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Haven't Got Time for the Pain

The wide receiver, who has five touchdown catches and ranks fifth in the NFL with 658 yards receiving, has an injured hamstring.
The wide receiver, who has five touchdown catches and ranks fifth in the NFL with 658 yards receiving, has an injured hamstring. (By Preston Keres -- The Washington Post)
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Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 31, 2008; Page E01

After five preseason games and eight in the regular season, the Redskins

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are limping into their bye week. But first they must face the 5-2 Steelers.

As practice began the other day at Redskins Park, quarterback Jason Campbell quickly noticed many of his teammates were not participating. It seemed most of Washington's top players needed a break because of injuries, and that could be a problem with a game Monday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"You really couldn't help but notice" how many key performers sat out Wednesday, Campbell said yesterday. "You always have some guys out because they need a little extra time, but I haven't seen it like that in a long time. Right now, we just have a lot of guys who are trying to get their bodies back healthy. And with Pittsburgh coming up, we're definitely going to need them."

After five preseason games and eight in the regular season, the Redskins could use a long break as many players are hobbled by injuries. Washington's bye week occurs after it hosts Pittsburgh at FedEx Field, and players are eagerly anticipating the time off.

First, however, Washington faces a major test against one of the AFC's top teams. Despite being weakened by injuries, the Redskins must push through the pain and make a strong statement against the Steelers, several veterans said.

"You know, we've been going strong for a long time now, and you're going to have injuries the longer you go," said backup running back Ladell Betts, sidelined the previous two games because of a sprained left knee and also ruled out of Monday's game.

"We played five preseason games and we're going into our ninth regular season game, so that's 14 games. That's a long stretch, so guys are definitely looking forward to the break, but we're looking forward to Monday night. Take care of business, then rest."

The Redskins (6-2) and Steelers (5-2) have records that are among the best in the NFL, but Washington could have to juggle on offense and defense unless many players heal in time for kickoff.

In addition to Betts, cornerback Shawn Springs (calf) and defensive end Jason Taylor (surgery) have been ruled out. Taylor had a second procedure Sunday on his left calf, having it lanced to drain fluid from an infection, and will be reevaluated after the bye week. He initially underwent emergency surgery Sept. 22 to relieve a buildup of pressure known as acute compartment syndrome, and has taken antibiotics to treat a strep infection, Coach Jim Zorn said.

Springs will miss his fourth game, and third in a row, because of a left calf injury he suffered in the second half of a Week 4 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. Springs also sat out the season-opening loss to the New York Giants because of a shin injury.

"We're definitely missing some key guys, but you never want to look at it like one guy or two guys is going to make that difference" in winning or losing, cornerback Carlos Rogers said. "You know you're going to have injuries, so it's all about having people step up when guys go down. That's the only thing you can do. You're not going to give up. You're still going to play the game."

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