Redskin linebacker Brad Dusek said there was one consolation about the dislocated left shoulder he suffered today against the New England Patriots. "It's not," he said, trying to smile, "nearly as bad as my back was."

Dusek had made a miraculous recovery from April back surgery and was almost ready to again play full-time. But in the third quarter today, he extended his arm while trying to make a tackle. A bunch of players landed on the arm.

"It's just something you have to deal with," Dusek said about the injury, which will sideline him from four to six weeks. "I would have preferred not to have it happen, but no, I'm not frustrated. You just have to go from here and try to get better."

Besides being one short at the linebacking spot, the Redskins also probably will have to place Dusek on the injured reserve list, which could mean he might miss the rest of the season.

"Whatever they do with me, I'll understand," he said. "I want to play, but they have to think of the team first. They have to do what is best. I've been around long enough to accept anything."

Across the locker room, Mike Nelms, who broke his right thumb making a tackle with less than five minutes to play, said he was confident he could at least play in the secondary, despite a cast.

"I've returned punts and made interceptions before with a broken little finger and a cast," he said. "I'd like to at least try to see if I can catch punts. Maybe I can't be ready for Dallas but I'm going to try."

Nelms had been enjoying a fine preseason as a return man. Last week, he brought back a Colt punt for a touchdown, which earned him a day off from those chores this afternoon.

"At least I got hurt going all out," he said. "I wasn't loafing. It's something you just have to live with and hope it heals faster than you think."