Springs's Reserve Role Takes Some by Surprise

By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Cornerback Shawn Springs has the highest base salary of any Redskin (nearly $5 million), said he feels as healthy as he has in years and is the most accomplished of Washington's defensive backs, yet with the game in the balance Sunday, he stood on the sidelines watching. Springs was the third defensive back in the season-opening victory, with Fred Smoot and Carlos Rogers playing in the base package, a move that surprised some veteran players.

Coach Joe Gibbs said that during practice last week the coaches thought that Springs was not as explosive as normal, not quite 100 percent, but said the team's "concern" with Springs was not related to his sports hernia from last year or any particular injury. Springs said he feels great, and he was not listed on an injury report.

"We were kind of worried a little bit the week before about him from a health standpoint," Gibbs said. "Certainly, I am sure he will start this year but we feel like we're real solid at corner and we've got three guys there who have started a bunch."

Gibbs said that Springs was not breaking full speed as he normally would and was "holding up a little bit," although he practiced fully. "I felt better going into that game Sunday than I have in four years," Springs said. "I don't know what Coach Gibbs is talking about." Springs, who rebuffed requests for him to slash his salary in the offseason, said that he is not anticipating a quick change to his starting status. "Start? I doubt it," Springs said. "Usually when you start the season off like that, that's probably the way it is."

Springs said that he is okay with his role, and was not shocked to be on the bench, though privately some players said that the coaches did not clarify the starting situation with the corners until game day, and did not speak with them to clarify their status. Springs laughed that off.

"Man, with my salary this year I'm not trippin,' " he said.

Daniels Says He'll Practice

End Phillip Daniels wore a walking boot on his sprained right foot, but believes he will be able to practice when the team returns to the field Thursday after two days off, while safeties Pierson Prioleau (hamstring) and Vernon Fox (groin) will be monitored all week as well, Gibbs said.

Daniels said he sprained the outside top portion of his foot and left the game in the fourth quarter after he could no longer push off. He said it feels better now and is unsure exactly how he was injured. "It could be a bone bruise, but I'm saying a sprain," Daniels said. "That's what it feels like." Fox said he has no intention of missing Monday's game -- "I'll be ready, the extra day will help," he said -- while Prioleau told Gibbs he was feeling much better today.

First Game-Winner for Suisham

Shaun Suisham fulfilled a lifelong ambition Sunday, getting to attempt a game-ending field goal for the first time. Suisham, who hit all three chances Sunday, had never tried a game-winner like that before -- not in the NFL, not in college, not in high school, not that he could ever recall -- but connected from 39 yards in overtime.

"That was my first opportunity at a game-winner," Suisham said. "You remember being 13 years old when kicking thinking of that game-winner, always pretending it's the game-winner on the last kick of the day. You do that all the time and all the preparation there that went into that kick, it's pretty satisfying. It's a great feeling, and I'm sure happy to be a part of this team and able to do that and help guys win."

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