For a few fleeting moments at Redskin Park yesterday, they ran routes on the same pass play: Charlie Brown, Art Monk, Calvin Muhammad, Don Warren and Joe Washington.
"That's exciting . . . when we get everybody back," Washington Coach Joe Gibbs said after the 2 1/2-hour workout. The Redskins can reactivate two more players from injured reserve before the playoffs, and those two slots belong to Brown and Washington.
Gibbs indicated that unless Brown, who has not played since the fifth week of this 7-5 season, has a relapse from a foot injury, he will be activated for Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills at RFK Stadium.
Washington's prospects for being reactivated this week are "less likely," according to Gibbs. "I want Joe to take more work and tell me when he's 100 percent."
Washington said, "I think I can play. I know I'm not 100 percent. I don't know what I am. But, if they activate me, I think I can help the club."
Not only was there good news for the offense, but for the special teams as well. Kick returner Mike Nelms, who incurred a sprained ankle in Sunday's 16-10 loss at Philadelphia, was off crutches. He and trainer Bubba Tyer expect him to be ready to play against the Bills. Nelms will begin jogging today.
In a season in which 20 Redskins have been put on injured reserve, including 11 since the final preseason cutdown, there was only one negative note: Defensive tackle Dave Butz was home with the flu. Tyer said he expects Butz to return today.
The return of Brown and Washington to full practice seemed to add a spark to a team whose offense has been struggling, scoring only 92 points while losing three times in the past five games.
But no one should expect an immediate return to the form that helped the Redskins score a league-record 541 points in the 1983 regular season.
For openers, there are injuries in the offensive line, and Brown likely will return initially as a third-down receiver.
"I feel pretty good," Brown said. "But I'm not near 100 percent, I'll tell you that. Nobody can come off of an injury and be 100 percent . . . But if I don't jam it or sprain it again, I'll be full speed by the playoffs."
Brown, an all-pro last season, has caught only 12 passes this season. He hasn't been completely healthy since Week 2, when he incurred a hamstring injury against the 49ers.
He missed the next game, then two weeks later against the Eagles incurred a sprained right ankle when a defender fell and rolled over the back of his leg. Two weeks later, X-rays revealed a stress fracture of the right fibula and he was placed on injured reserve after the eighth game.
Brown said he has gone through the rehabilitation process fairly calmly, without much frustration. "Once you experience being injured, you know how to take it the second time around," Brown said. "If I'd been a rookie, I'd have gone berserk. My mental attitude was great, magnificent."
Brown said his ankle was sore after yesterday's practice, in which he ran both with the scout team against the first-team defense, and with the first-team offense. "That's a lot of work," he said. "Tomorrow, I think it'll feel real good."
His biggest concern for Sunday is staying warm and loose on the sideline, if the temperature remains as cold as it was yesterday, Brown said. "I won't be in on every play," he said. "I've got to be ready. You'll see me moving on the sidelines like a little bug moving around."
For Washington, yesterday's practice represented the first time he had participated in 11-on-11 drills in two months, and he was rusty.
"My biggest problem?" he said. "Remembering the snap count. Seriously. That and going up to the line and forgetting what the play is. I did that today. It was good to get it out of my system."
Asked about the alignment in which he is playing with Monk, Muhammad and Brown, Washington smiled and said, "That's a lot of people in there. There's no such thing as double-covering. Give us two more balls out there and watch out, world."