CARLISLE, PA., AUG. 13 -- The Washington Redskins play their first preseason game tonight at 8 at RFK Stadium, but they are preoccupied with injuries and illness, not the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Veteran defensive tackle Dave Butz was taken to Carlisle Hospital at 1:30 this morning suffering from a severe migraine headache and nausea.
He said he underwent tests and spent the night at the hospital before being released later this morning. Butz did not practice this afternoon and said he did not know if he could play Friday night. If he can't play, Dean Hamel is expected to start in his place.
"I'm better than I was, but it was bad last night," said Butz, who has had migraine headaches before. "It felt like somebody took one of those meat cleavers and just tenderized the right side of my head, down my neck."
Veteran free safety Curtis Jordan also missed practice today after being kicked in his right leg at the team's scrimmage Wednesday night. Todd Bowles replaced him in practice and will play against the Steelers if Jordan can't play.
Meanwhile, cornerback Brian Davis, the Redskins' top draft choice, was left behind to undergo treatment on his strained right thigh when the players broke camp, head trainer Bubba Tyer said. And offensive tackle Wally Kleine, the team's second draft pick, is scheduled to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his swollen right knee Saturday morning, Tyer said. It is likely Kleine will be placed on injured reserve.
But the medical news wasn't all bad for the Redskins. Running back Kelvin Bryant, who has had a strained right quadriceps, will play in third-down situations, running backs coach Don Breaux said. Running back Keith Griffin will start in place of George Rogers, who has a sprained left big toe and said he can't play Friday.
In all, four usual starters (Rogers, defensive end Dexter Manley, Butz and Jordan) are either out or in doubt for this exhibition, the Redskins' first game in seven months after losing the NFC championship game to the New York Giants.
But even if a few of the key characters are missing, as dress rehearsals go, this should be interesting.
"It's just like a job interview to me," said wide receiver Clarence Verdin, nicknamed "CNN" because he talks 24 hours a day. "A game like this can help you get a job or lose one. It's time to shine."
The Washington roster has 94 names on it today. In 19 days, on Sept. 1, the National Football League mandates that every team have only 60 players on the roster. And one out of every three Washington players on the field or bench Friday night will not be there in three weeks.
The marginal players have the most to lose, of course, but the coaches might be most interested in the veterans. For the Redskins, quarterback Jay Schroeder will start.
If Schroeder looks good, Coach Joe Gibbs likely will take him out after halftime. But if he doesn't, Gibbs likely will leave him in longer, to give him a chance to right any wrongs and leave the field on a positive note. Doug Williams will play after Schroeder, Gibbs said. Second-year quarterback Mark Rypien will come in next, if there's time.
For the Steelers, eight-year veteran Mark Malone will quarterback the first half, according to Coach Chuck Noll.Both second-year man Bubby Brister and free agent Steve Bono could play against the Redskins.
The Steelers are coming off two straight losing seasons, including a 6-10 record last year after a 1-6 start.
Pittsburgh's top draft choice also will be absent. Cornerback Rod Woodson from Purdue has gone to Europe to run track in hopes of making the 1988 Olympics after failing to come to terms with the Steelers. That puts added pressure on eight-year veteran Dwayne Woodruff, who missed last season with a knee injury, to perform well. That's also true of cornerback Delton Hall, a second-round pick from Clemson.
What happens on the field as a result of the Redskins' injuries and personnel changes will be interesting. All-pro guard Russ Grimm will debut at center, in place of Jeff Bostic. Grimm, who weighs 275 pounds, will butt heads with nose tackle Gary Dunn, an 11-year veteran who also weighs 275. After two weeks of practice, Raleigh McKenzie appears firmly entrenched at left guard, where Grimm used to play.
But as soon as you think you've got the line figured out, it changes. Mixing and matching will occur all night: tackle Mark May will play guard, rookie Ed Simmons will move to tackle, Bostic will play guard, McKenzie and guard R.C. Thielemann might switch sides.
The coaches primarily will be looking to clarify certain positions Friday night.
For example, they need a tight end to take Anthony Jones' spot due to an injury. Will it be Chris Dressel, a proven five-year veteran whom the Redskins obtained in an offseason trade with Houston? Or second-year man Todd Frain, who has a bruised tailbone? Or ninth-round draft choice Alfred Jenkins?
The running back situation is cluttered at best. After Rogers, Bryant and Griffin, there are a bunch of players shorter than 6 feet vying for a fourth and fifth roster spot. Rookie Timmy Smith is the most likely to succeed, followed by Rick Badanjek, Kenny Fells, Reggie Branch and Dwight Garner, who has a bruised left foot and is not expected to play.
On defense, the question is how much will the Redskins miss Dexter Manley? He suffered a partial tear of the medial collateral ligament in his right knee last Saturday and will be replaced by Markus Koch.
A year ago, Manley missed all four preseason games because of a contract holdout and the Redskins pass rush suffered considerably. If Butz is out, that's two veterans missing from the line.
Linebacker Mel Kaufman, who has looked particularly good in practice, is returning to the scene where he suffered his ruptured Achilles' tendon 11 months ago. Kaufman, Rich Milot and Neal Olkewicz have young players breathing down their necks, although one of them, Anthony Copeland, will miss the game with a sprained left knee.
Gibbs said he has no set formula on how Jess Atkinson and Max Zendejas will share the kicking duties, except to say Atkinson will kick whatever comes first. The Redskins are placing quite a bit of weight on preseason games to determine if Atkinson keeps his job or Zendejas takes it away from him.
"With all our veterans, we want to give them a good run," Gibbs said.
Chiefs 32, Oilers 20:
Kansas City's Nick Lowery kicked six field goals and Bill Kenney connected with Darrell Colbert on a 40-yard touchdown pass with 5:01 to play, lifting the Chiefs to a 32-20 NFL exhibition victory in Houston last night.
Lowery, the second most accurate kicker in NFL history, kicked a 22-yard field goal to give Kansas City the lead for good at 22-20 with 7:58 left in the game.
Rams 23, Seahawks 14:
Ron Brown caught a short pass from quarterback Jim Everett and ran 46 yards for a touchdown to cap a 20-point second quarter as Los Angeles won at home.
The win, though, proved costly for the Rams. Inside linebacker Mark Jerue, second on the team in tackles last year, suffered torn ligaments in his left knee in the first quarter. He is to undergo surgery Friday and could miss the season. Los Angeles also lost rookie cornerback Clifford Hicks for 4-6 weeks after the No. 2 draft pick separated his shoulder in the second period.