The Washington Redskins could regain tackle George Starke and tight end Don Warren this week, but they now are concerned about fullbacks Clarence Harmon, Ricky Claitt and Buddy Hardeman, each of whom has an injured ankle.
The Redskins are so concernced that they waived reserve offensive lineman Gary Anderson yesterday to open a spot on the roster.
"We'll wait until later in the week, maybe even until Monday, before we decide what to do with that spot," Coach Jack Pardee said. The Redskins play the Boncos in Denver Monday night.
"We're prepared to wait until the last minute. If we don't get some backs healthy, we'll have to get a back from somewhere."
The Redskins also are carrying only three wide receivers and one of them, John McDaniel, has an injured shoulder. And if Starke can't go full speed, they may need an offensive lineman.
Harmon was in for only a few plays with the special teams in Philadelphia last Sunday. Claitt sprained his ankle during that game but continued to play. Neither has practiced this week.
Hardeman hurt his ankle a month ago and just now is coming around.
The return of Starke and Warren should improve the running attack. Starke is the team's best blocker and Warren is the only tight end who has a complete command of the offense. He fractured a bone in his left leg in the final preseason game, at Tampa Bay, sat out the regular season opener agaist Dallas and played against the New York Giants the second week of the season. When his backup, Phil DuBois, fractured ribs in that game. Warren was forced to play more than planned and he reinjured the leg. He did not play the next two weeks and was in only for a couple of plays against the Eagles.
Starke injured his knee in the Giant game and hasn't played since. He'll get his first heavy work since the injury today. How he does will determine his status for Monday. The same holds true for Warren, but he says he is ready to go full speed.
"George definitely isn't full speed, but he'll take some plays and see how it goes," Pardee said. "He's been out watching the last two days and he's been to the meetings, so knows what to do. The next day or two will tell us a lot more about Warren, too. It's just a matter of how sore the leg gets."
Anderson's release was a surprise. He began the season as the backup guard, having beaten out Dan Nugent. When Terry Hermeling and Starke were hurt in New York, he was moved to tackle and started the following week agaist the Oakland Raiders.
Hermeling sustained a concussion on the last play of the first half in Philadelphia and Anderson played tackle the second half. He was called for three holding penalties.
Nugent, re-signed the Friday before the Oakland game after being cut in the preseason, is now the primary backup guard.
Pardee is particularly excited about getting Warren back.
"He's awfully important to everything we do, both running and passing," Pardee said of the second year pro from San Diego State. "The tight end is just so important and Don is the only one we have who's been here long enough to know the offense well."
Warren said he is feeling "real good." He said his leg aches after he runs for more than an hour and a half, but that it is strong enough for him to play an entire football game on.
"There isn't much you can do for a broken leg," he said. "I drink a lot of milk and take extra calcium. People always said that was good for your bones."
The fracture is near the outside of the knee. Warren tapes his leg heavily and wears a soccer pad over the injury.
The last couple of games he has tried to help his replacement, Rick Walker. He noticed in the Eagles game that Walker was taking a wider split from the tackle on passing plays and that was tipping off the Eagle defense.
"That's all I could do was watch and try to help," Warren said. "If you break a finger or something like that, you can tape it and keep on playing. But when you start messing with your wheels, that's your transportation and there isn't much you can do until you heal.
"The doctor left it up to me if I could play or not. He said that if it didn't hurt I could play. It didn't hurt before the Giant game so I played."
With an extra day to practice this week because they don't play until Monday night, Pardee has used the last two days to put the Redskins through some "teaching."
In addition to Harmon and Claitt, defensive end Coy Bacon and left guard Ron Saul haven't been able to do much the last two days. Bacon has a sore knee and Saul an injured calf.