Injuries compound Redskins' troubles
Even as the uninspired performances and dreadful results begin to look the same from week to week, the Washington Redskins have reached the season's midpoint and have no choice but to seek change.
Coach Jim Zorn went through the long list of casualties suffered in Sunday's 31-17 loss at Atlanta and noted that injuries will force the team to shuffle its lineup on both sides of the ball. With two offensive linemen already on injured reserve and tight end Chris Cooley still on crutches, the Redskins lost at least three more starters against the Falcons.
Running back Clinton Portis suffered a concussion in the first quarter, and Zorn said he's doubtful for this weekend's game against the Broncos. In addition, second-year safety Chris Horton is out for at least a month, and tackle Mike Williams will miss the next couple of games.
"I'm concerned about all of our injuries," Zorn said. "No question about it. It's what teams have to deal with each week, and we've absolutely had our share. But one of the things that we will do is we'll be competitive."
Horton suffered ligament damage in his big toe and could soon find himself on season-ending injured reserve. He's scheduled to see a specialist Tuesday and will miss at least four to six weeks, Zorn said. If doctors decide surgery is necessary, Horton could be out up to six months.
With Portis likely missing at least one game, Zorn said the team had internal discussions about Larry Johnson, who was released Monday by the Kansas City Chiefs. Asked about the beleaguered running back later in the afternoon, Zorn told reporters, "I don't know."
"I need to have a longer conversation than I've had" before making a decision, the coach said.
A league source indicated that the Redskins likely wouldn't add Johnson to the roster because of their many other pressing needs, primarily on the offensive line. Washington will start its fifth combination of linemen Sunday against the Broncos.
Zorn told Comcast SportsNet Monday afternoon that pursuing Johnson "is tempting, and we'll continue to talk about it as we go along."
Complicating matters for any team entertaining the possibility of a waiver claim is the money that would be owed to Johnson. The Chiefs have already paid the running back $2.4 million of his $4.55 million base salary this season, according to a league source familiar with Johnson's contract. Any team claiming Johnson off waivers would be on the hook for the remaining $2.1 million of his base salary, in addition to a $62,500-per-game bonus he's owed each week he's active.
If Johnson clears waivers Tuesday afternoon, teams interested in his services can begin negotiating a new contract.
According to a league source, the Redskins have about $4 million remaining in cap space, which means they have some flexibility.