Jake Scott, the Redskins' starting free safey, is not expected to play Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys and his status for the rest of the stretch drive will be uncertain because of at least two broken ribs he suffered Monday night in the 10-9 victory over the Green Bay Packers.
Scott, who has been bothered by leg-muscle problems the last month was injured in the final two minutes of the first half when he made a tackle and landed on someone's heel in a pileup.
Scott broke the eight and 10th ribs and may also have cracked the ninth, according to Redskin team trainer Bubba Tyer. He said Scott's injury is extremely painful and that he would have to miss the important game against the Cowboys at RFK Stadium.
Tyler said he was not certain how much time Scott would need to recover, and Redskin coach George Allen made himself unavailable for comment yesterday, cancelling his usual day-after-game press conference to begin preparations for the Cowboys.
Last night, on his WJLA-TV-7 television show, Allen said the Redskins would have to play "by far" their best game of the year to defeat Dallas.
The Redskins may once again be missing the services of outside line-backer Chris Hanburger. He aggravated the injury to his left knee against the Packers and one team source said he would probably be listed as doubtful for Dallas.
Another Redskin defensive starter, tackle Bill Brundige, was limping because of what the Redskins described as a sprained left foot. Brundige's foot was placed in a cast during the game Monday, but Tyler said it the swelling does not get out of hand, he has a chance to play against the Cowboys.
If Brundige cannot go, he will be replaced by Karl Lorch, a man Allen lists among the most pleasant surprises on the season. And Mike Curtis, the original masher, will take over once again for Hanburger, with Ken Houston calling defensive signals from the strong-safety position.
Allen added that Scott and Hanburger were "very doubtful" and said Brundige does have a chance to play but should also be listed as doubtful. Dave Butz also has a sprained ankle, but should be available, Allen said.
Nevertheless, the Redskins surely will be shuffling bodies this week during practice, and won't help the preparations for a Cowboy team that is ranked second in the NFC in total offense.
The Cowboys dominate the latest league statistical lists, boasting the leading scorer (Efren Herrere), the No.1 receiver (Drew Pearson), the No. 8 passer (Roger Staubach and an offense that burned the Redskins for 34 points and 435 yards of total offense when the teams last met, Oct. 16.
With Scott out, Eddie Brown will move into the starting lineup, and rookie Safety Mark Murphy will probably be used as the fifth defensive back in the Redskins' nickle defense used in obvious passing situations.
Normally, when Brown plays regularly, special teams' coach Paul Lanham gives him a breather by taking him off the kick-off-return team. But Brown is now second in the NFC in kickoff returns, with an excellent shot at a winning the tittle, and Lanham will probably keep him busy returning kickoffs and punts.
Brown has been giving the Redskin offense excellent field position with his clutch returns, and that beleagured unit needs all the help it can get against a Dallas team that is ranked No.1 in defense in the NFC, third against tthe run and first against the pass.
The Redskins struggled all night against the Packers, although they did manage to gain 753 yards rushing, their second-most productive performance on the ground this season.
The Redskins prevailed Monday night because quarterback Joe Theismann, in his hour of greatest need, turned to the air to produce the games's only touchdown.
On the scoring drive, Theismann completed four of five passes, including one of 9- yards to Danny Buggs and the seven-yards touchdown toss to Mike Thomas with 7:22 left in the game.
Theismann did not start the first game against the Cowboys but played most of the second quarter after quaterback Billy Kilmer bruised his shoulder. Theismann completed only three of 7- passes and had one intercepted to set up a Cowboy touchdown. He was sacked four times.
Redskins quarterbacks were sacked eight times in that first Cowboy game, and they have been dumped on their pants a total of 44 times this season, tops (or bottoms) in the National Football League.
"I know all 44 sacks have not been charged to the (offensive) line," said line coach Bill Austin. "But blaming any one guy or group of guys doesn't do much good. Were encouraged by what's happening; we think we're coming around. These guys are hustling, and that's all you can ask.
When you play the Cowboys' or any good team, really, what you do on first down is very important. You need to get at least four yards on first down as often as you can; that way they can't just play the pass. That's what Dallas thrives on. In our first game, we averaged 4.7 yards on first down. But we also got behind, and against Dallas, that's something you can't afford to do."
Everything you have to know about the Redskin offense is contained in the following statistic: Mark Moseley has kicked more field goals (15) than extra points (13) this season.