Injuries Leave Holes in Secondary

By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Safety Pierson Prioleau hobbled out of Redskins Park on crutches yesterday afternoon, his season ended by a freakish knee injury on the opening kickoff of the season Monday night. Cornerback Shawn Springs left the facility walking well, but is still recovering from abdominal surgery last month and said he does not believe he will be able to play Sunday night in Dallas.

The Washington Redskins stand to be short two of their top defensive backs against the Dallas Cowboys, and the secondary struggled in a 19-16 loss to Minnesota without them. Prioleau left the game after the opening kickoff with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee; he was not touched on the play but turned awkwardly to avoid a Viking. Prioleau plays a key role as the fifth defensive back in many passing situations, and with him out, Mike Rumph, who was acquired a few weeks ago, was thrust into that position. The Redskins will put Prioleau on injured reserve, Coach Joe Gibbs said, opening a roster spot to add depth to the secondary.

"When you put in a year's worth of hard work -- all the offseason and training camp work -- you feel like part of the family," said Prioleau, in his second year with the Redskins. "And you feel almost like you let the guys down when you're not out there trying to get a win with them."

Springs, a former Pro Bowler, underwent surgery about four weeks ago and said he is encouraged by his progress, but did not believe it would be possible for him to play this weekend. Gibbs said he was hopeful Springs might return.

"I'm not nearly where I want to be," Springs said. "Hopefully, relatively soon I will be. When we opted to have the surgery, we knew I wouldn't be here for the first couple of games, so we've got to just keep working on it."

Washington will likely look to add depth to the secondary this week. Without its premier talent back there, the Redskins rarely blitzed, while the Vikings had great success downfield. Besides starting safeties Adam Archuleta and Sean Taylor, the team has only undrafted rookie Reed Doughty and journeyman Vernon Fox, signed late in the preseason, on the roster.

Reserve defensive lineman Renaldo Wynn missed Monday's game with an ankle injury, but is expected to play, said Bubba Tyer, the team's director of sports medicine. Tight end Christian Fauria suffered a bad cut on his calf in the game, but is also expected to be fine by the weekend, Tyer said.

Portis Eases Back In

Running back Clinton Portis said he was surprised he was able to carry 10 times against Minnesota after missing most of the preseason with a partially dislocated left shoulder but ached all over yesterday because of it. Portis said he had had little physical contact the past four weeks and "played more than I expected."

Portis expects to be more active against the Cowboys, and said it was important to take a few hits. He is wearing a harness and extra padding on his shoulder. "To get that first play out of the way, I was like, 'Oh, okay, I'm straight,' " Portis said. "I'm all right to play."

Team Adds Yoder

The Redskins, who had been carrying just two tight ends on the roster, signed free agent Todd Yoder yesterday and cut fullback Nehemiah Broughton, a 2005 draft pick. Yoder, a seven-year veteran, missed all of 2005 with a knee injury. . . . Several players intimated that safety Sean Taylor, who disputed two key calls against him Monday night, may have been penalized for his reputation. The officiating crew Monday night also worked Washington's playoff game at Tampa in January, when Taylor was ejected for spitting on running back Michael Pittman, an incident that Taylor denied and that was caught on video. . . . Gibbs again voiced strong support of place kicker John Hall, who missed badly from 48 yards with a chance to tie the score late in regulation. "For me, I'm glad John Hall is kicking for us," said Gibbs, who has expressed confidence in Hall repeatedly through two injury-marred years. . . . Practice squad tight end Manuel White, a 2005 draft pick, tore his meniscus in practice Saturday and will have surgery on the knee, Tyer said. The extent of his absence will not be determined until after surgery.

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