Brad Dusek, the Redskins' best linebacker, has a possible ruptured disk in his back that could require immediate surgery.
A decision whether to operate will be made as soon as the Redskins receive a second doctor's opinion, possibly today. Team physician Stanford Lavine has recommended surgery.
Redskin officials have been told that if surgery is required, Dusek could play again in July, when training camp starts. But the problem could be more serious than anticipated and keep Dusek out far longer.
Dusek, who is in Sibley Hospital, has had pain in the leg that has been troubling him since last summer, when he badly pulled a thigh muscle.
The pain flared up following a minicamp at Redskin Park that ended 10 days ago. Dusek practiced the first two days, but not the final workout when his leg hurt. At that time, he thought it was tightness in his thigh.
With Dusek sidelined, the Redskins will be forced to move Rich Milot from middle to outside linebacker. They have just three healthy linebackers: Milot, Neal Olkewicz and Monte Coleman.
Bobby Beathard, the Redskin general manager, said last night that Dusek's injury would not alter the team's draft plans.
"We have said right along that we needed to pick up at least two more linebackers," Beathard said. "But we aren't going to panic and take a linebacker in the first round even though he really is a second-round player.
"I'm going to stay optimistic about this. I hope Brad is back by training camp. Until then, we have three excellent front-line players. We just need a lot of depth now to back them up."