Mike Nelms, the Redskins' Pro Bowl kick returner, says he is nearly completely recovered from painful thigh bruises that have hindered him for almost a month, and is ready to play against Dallas Saturday.
"If I'm not 100 percent, I'm awfully close to it," said Nelms. "I have a full range of mobility in both legs for the first time in a long, long time."
Nelms said he benefited from a reduced work load last Saturday against Minnesota when he returned only one kickoff and one punt.
"I was able to really get through a work day without putting much strain on the thighs," Nelms said. "Really, I felt better as the game went on. That's why I returned the second kickoff after not being in there on the opening kickoff. I got looser and looser and I told them I could go in and play."
Nelms hasn't played at full speed since the Giants game Nov. 21, in which he returned one punt for 14 yards and a kickoff for 44. A thigh bruise and pulled muscle limited him to punt returns against New Orleans, and he sat out the regular-season finale against St. Louis. Against Detroit Jan. 9, he again bruised a thigh, although he came within one tackle of breaking a kickoff return.
Nelms' recovery is a boost for the Redskins' special teams, ranked the best in the NFL this season. The special teams players still are smarting from Danny White's fake-punt run in the Dallas game Dec. 5, perhaps the key play of that game.
"You better believe we are going to have three people watching him all the time," Clarence Harmon said. "They may try a trick play again, but I doubt if he would do it . . . That's the first time I can remember anyone doing that to us in a crucial game."