By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
A day after the Washington Redskins won for the third time in four games, the team began preparing to play Green Bay by assessing which key players were likely to be healthy enough to play.
Wide receivers Santana Moss, who missed the team's 34-3 victory Sunday over Detroit with a groin injury, and Antwaan Randle El, who injured his hamstring in the first half, were among the starters listed as "kind of questionable" by Bubba Tyer, the team's director of sports medicine. The same can be said for linebacker Marcus Washington, who hurt his hamstring, and defensive end Phillip Daniels, who suffered a separated shoulder. Daniels faced the stiffest odds of playing next Sunday against the Packers.
"I'm amazed how quick guys sometimes can come back from stuff. That's why I'm always hesitant to say how long it's going to be," Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs said. "These guys are obviously superior than most people in the way they come back from injuries. . . . I'm hoping we get some quick heals. Certainly, this week that would help us."
Washington went into its bye week in better health -- with Gibbs giving the players the week off -- but will have to work around several lingering injuries as it prepares for the Packers (4-1).
The offense Sunday was sharp even though Moss missed the game and Randle El, having a career season, was forced from the game. The defense limited Detroit's offense to 144 net yards (the fewest given up by the Redskins since Oct. 12, 1992, according to the Elias Sports Bureau).
Gibbs and the team's athletic trainers will face daily challenges as they decide which players to keep from practice, and how much to limit others.
Moss, who suffered a groin injury Sept. 23 against the New York Giants, said he will practice today, but probably in a reduced role. He was encouraged by his progress after workouts Sunday and yesterday but is taking precautions not to aggravate the injury.
Randle El said he expects to miss practice today, and has a mild strain, according to Tyer. "I will be playing Sunday," Randle El said.
Washington, who has a high pain threshold and suffered what the team calls a "moderate" strain, knows he will need to be candid with trainers to avoid long-term problems, Tyer said. Daniels's right shoulder was in a sling, and team sources said he is a long shot to play in Green Bay.
Tyer said at this early point in the week, all those players are questionable for the game, but how they respond to practice and/or treatment through the week will determine their final status.
Despite the absence of Moss and Randle El, his top two targets, quarterback Jason Campbell (23 for 29 with two touchdowns) had his most productive game against the Lions, but the Redskins would prefer not to continue operating under those conditions. Moss and Randle El are dangerous deep threats and open up the rest of the field. Moss has battled lingering hamstring and groin injuries before, and said in the past he may have pushed to play. But after hobbling through the second half of last season with recurring hamstring problems, he erred on the side of caution.
"To tell you the truth, if I didn't go through what I went through last year, I would have probably played," Moss said. "And that's the reason why I didn't do it. I didn't want to put myself and my team in that situation. I just let my body heal and took it day by day, and that's what I'm going to do again. Every day I'm going to progress. I know I'm going to practice, but you never know how the load is going to be. I know I'm not going to go out there and go crazy."
Randle El had seven catches for 100 yards in the first half and took a fourth-down slant 37 yards to the 1; he would have scored had he not strained his hamstring on the play. He entered this season with one career 100-yard receiving game, and already has had two in four games. His 18 catches for 338 yards nearly equal his output from 2006 (32 catches for 351 yards). With Moss out, James Thrash assumed a starting role and newcomer Keenan McCardell's role expanded when Randle El left the game; they and Reche Caldwell are providing depth.
"I've got great range of motion, it's just sore right now," Randle El said. "It almost feels like it's a cramp and I need to stretch it, but they tell me not to stretch it."
Washington, playing all season in pain after dislocating his elbow in preseason, was replaced by veteran Randall Godfrey on Sunday, and Godfrey would replace him again, if necessary. Washington rarely misses even a practice, however, and generally finds a way to play through anything. "I knew it was going to be a little sore today; that's to be expected," Washington said. "We'll kind of see how it feels tomorrow."
Daniels still had swelling in his right shoulder yesterday, which Tyer said was anticipated, after he returned to the game despite the separation. He will remain in the sling for a few days. Daniels said the pain was tolerable, but the joint is unlikely to heal sufficiently before the Packers game. Demetric Evans has been a solid replacement.
"Hopefully, I'll get some practice in this week," Daniels said.
The Redskins also suffered a series of minor injuries, but none that will affect Sunday's game. Tailback Clinton Portis was hit on the knee and bruised his hand, but Tyer and Gibbs said he is fine. Cornerback Fred Smoot, who suffered a shoulder burner, is fine. Fullback Mike Sellers (heel), safety Vernon Fox (groin) and linebacker Rocky McIntosh (shoulder) all played normally against the Lions and suffered no setbacks, Tyer said.
Staff writer Jason Reid contributed to this report.