Don Warren and Anthony Jones were at the office on their day off yesterday. Warren, the Washington Redskins' starting tight end for six seasons, showed up at Redskin Park to have ice and tape put on and around a deep bruise on his right thigh. Jones, his backup, was there to work out -- and get ready.
Once again, the Redskins' depth chart is in a potential flip-flop because of an injury. Warren, who bruised his thigh in the second quarter of the 37-13 loss to the New York Giants last Sunday, yesterday was listed as "questionable" for the Monday night game at RFK Stadium against the Atlanta Falcons. That means his chances of playing are 50-50. If he doesn't start, Jones, a rookie from Wichita State, will.
Warren went out of the Giants game when he tried to block linebacker Lawrence Taylor as John Riggins ran with the ball. That is significant because Warren is an original Hog from way back in the summer of '82.
It hasn't been a good year for Hogs, what with center Jeff Bostic out for the season with a knee injury, right tackle George Starke hobbled by fluid on the knee, and left guard Russ Grimm bothered by a groin pull. In fact, in the second half of the Giants game, four of the six blocking positions were filled by players not normally there.
"It's got to affect things a lot because the people just haven't played together," Warren said after the game.
To which Jones added yesterday: "It takes away the continuity of the team when you stick in someone else. But as far as replacing Don, I'm not going to say it will be easy, and, at the same time, I'm not going to say it will be hard."
Wichita State ran the option, which means Jones, the 306th player taken in the NFL draft, is used to blocking. "That was my primary role," he said. "I won't say all I did was block, but, most of the time, that's what I did."
But Jones' blocking style was a bit unusual. He lined up at tight end, but he didn't drop into a lineman's stance. He stood up, like a wide receiver, and blocked that way.
The Wichita State coaches had their reasons. Jones was in charge of calling the line's blocking schemes, and they thought the best way for him to do that was to stand up so he could see the defense.
"Obviously, it was a little bit of an adjustment for him when he came here," the tight end coach, Warren Simmons, said. "But, because of his college offense, he was used to blocking people downfield, so he was experienced that way."
The switch from blocking college players, Jones said, is "not that different. It's a matter of getting a chance to play, really."
Another injury and, voila. Even if Warren is able to start, Simmons said Jones will play, possibly quite a bit, against the Falcons. "Donny probably will be held out until game time, and then we hope he is ready to go. So Anthony will get the practice time, and, the way it looks now, he definitely will see playing time."
Simmons saw Warren Tuesday, and while the leg was "a little stiff on him," it didn't swell as much as the trainers thought it might, Simmons said. "He seemed to think it was doing pretty good."
Jones (6 feet 3, 248 pounts), who is about the same size as Warren (6-4, 242), already had played more than he expected when he made the team in training camp. He played more than half of the game against the Indianapolis Colts, when the Redskins decided to use their three-tight-end formation. And he plays on three of four special teams -- kickoff coverage and return, and punt coverage. Against the Giants, he was credited with 11 hits on special teams.
"He has had some excellent blocks," Simmons said, "and he has made some mistakes. But the best thing you can say about any new player is that he is improving, and Anthony is improving."
On some teams, the tight end's main role is to catch passes. Obviously, that's not the case here, especially considering the coaches' legitimate concern about the line's run blocking last Sunday. Yet, somewhere in the fine print following the game was this statistic: Jones caught a pass, his first in the pros, for a little six-yard gain. Warren only has 10 more this season, for 134 yards.
Warren's name was one of 15 on the Redskins' weekly injury report, but only two of those players are not listed as probable for Monday night. Running back Otis Wonsley (sprained left ankle and knee) joins Warren as questionable.
The "probable" list includes wide receiver Calvin Muhammad (sprained ankle), who did not play against the Giants last Sunday; strong safety Tony Peters (abdominal strain), and Starke (fluid on knee).