Out of traction and out of Sibley Hospital, running back George Rogers returned to Redskin Park yesterday and got the distinct impression that he is out of the Redskins' plans for Sunday's home game with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Rogers, who ran 20 minutes on a treadmill but did not participate in the team's 2 1/2-hour practice, was surprised when Coach Joe Gibbs mentioned his name after both John Riggins' and Keith Griffin's in strategy sessions.
"In the meeting, it was Keith and John . . . and it used to be John and George," Rogers said. "I'm already just about counted out."
Gibbs said that really isn't so, that if Rogers, who sprained his lower back in Washington's 16-13 victory over Houston, is able to practice today or Friday, he could play Sunday, and likely will dress for the game no matter what.
But it's possible the Redskins (1-1) will try to keep Rogers out of the game, especially if they get an early lead against the Eagles (0-2), who have not scored a touchdown this season.
Rogers officially is listed as questionable (50-50) for the 1 p.m. game at RFK Stadium.
"George will get mad at me if I say this, because he said I forgot his name in the meeting," Gibbs said, "but obviously, if you could rest him a week and let Keith and John take it, that would be good.
"It's a hard thing. He wants to get out and go, but you run the risk of hurting it even more . . . Maybe a little rest won't hurt him."
Rogers, who spent about 24 hours in Sibley Memorial Hospital before checking out at noon Tuesday, said he "could hardly walk" Monday.
"But I'm about ready to do the Michael Jackson now," he said, smiling. "That's an improvement. I was like Frankenstein Monday."
Rogers said his back felt "like it hurts" before he ran, and said it still hurt after he ran.
"If I'm hurt, I ain't going to go out there," he said. "Hopefully, I can practice (today), but I'll take it day to day."
Rogers, in shorts and a T-shirt, acted as Riggins' shadow yesterday, lining up on his own several yards behind Riggins to get a feel for the running plays. As Riggins darted with the ball, Rogers darted without it.
But he soon gave that up to sit along the sideline at Gibbs' feet and stretch and watch the offense work without him.
Riggins, who is another concern at running back with his two strained hamstrings, ran through all the plays, but not at full speed, according to Don Breaux, who coaches the team's running backs.
"He said he felt okay," Breaux said. "He didn't totally go all out, though. That's not really anything to worry about because, normally, he builds up as the week goes on.
"He told me he was still a little sore, so I said, 'Hey, go slower.' He wanted the repetition, and he got plenty of work."
Of the two aching backs, Rogers by far is the Redskins' greater worry. His injury appears to be more severe than Riggins', while his knowledge of the offense is far less extensive.
Rogers, who was traded to the Redskins in April and has slowly picked up the system here, wondered aloud if missing so much as a day of practice might set him back.
"I don't want to lose what I've got, which ain't much," he said, laughing.
Said Gibbs: "It's just a little harder for him. He has not been here as long as John."
The timing of Rogers' injury could not have been worse. After five games (in preseason and at Dallas) of fumbles and tentative running that he said bothered him, he seemed to find his niche last Sunday.
He rushed for 78 yards in 15 carries, including a 31-yard touchdown, before leaving the game early in the fourth quarter.
Of his stop-and-start touchdown run, he said, "It was kind of awkward. Everyone gave up, and I kind of squirted out of there . . . It gives you a little confidence."
Breaux still hopes to have Rogers back this weekend so he might become "even more ingrained in the system.
"He is on a roll right now and it would be great if he could build upon that."
No one says Rogers will lose ground if he doesn't practice or play, but it's likely he won't gain any, either.
In the locker room, Rogers walked up to Riggins, who twice checked himself into the hospital last season with back and hip problems, and asked if he had a remedy for the dreaded running-back back.
Riggins shook his head no.
"(The players) say I'm 'Young John' now," Rogers said. "I don't want to be the one sitting out with the back injury all the time."
Rogers still says that sharing time does not bother him.
"If John's going real good, it's best to leave him in," he said.
However, he added that because he doesn't carry the ball 30 to 35 times a game, "you lose some of your conditioning, I think."
Griffin, who has become one of the coaches' favorites, has entered the picture now, too.
"It looks like he may be our runner quite a bit of this week," Gibbs said.
He's also our third-down back, and can return kickoffs and play on special teams. There's not enough of him to go around."
Rogers, who has to sleep on a floor at his home because of the injury, has impressed the coaches in another way -- with his enthusiasm.
"I'm pleasantly surprised he is so excited about coming back," Breaux said. "It's really encouraging that he came in and ran. Of course, we don't know how he'll feel tomorrow."
Running back Otis Wonsley and strong safety Tony Peters added a little spice to practice yesterday when they tussled briefly out of bounds after Peters tackled Wonsley. The most interested observer was owner Jack Kent Cooke, who was seated 10 feet from the combatants . . . Quarterback Joe Theismann's second restaurant opens today in Vienna, Theismann said. The name, of course, is Joe Theismann's.