From listening to Jess Atkinson talk last night, one might easily have thought that he was going to be released from his injury today, not just from Arlington Hospital.

That, of course, is not the case.

Atkinson is scheduled to leave the hospital today, but he is not scheduled to walk for six weeks and not scheduled to play for eight to 12 weeks. However, the Washington Redskins kicker will not need surgery and does not believe his football career is over.

"It could have been my career," Atkinson said of the extra-point play Sunday in which his left ankle was dislocated by a hit from the Philadelphia Eagles' Andre Waters. "It could have been a disaster. But if I work, I could still get a quarter of a season or maybe the playoffs. I know by any stretch of the imagination, things will have to go right for me to play this season, but I'm optimistic."

That optimism sprang from the results of a magnetic resonance imagery (MRI) test Atkinson underwent yesterday. It showed that the ligament on the inside of his ankle is completely torn (a dislocation's normal side effect), but that his ankle cartilage is intact and there is no major damage to the bones in his ankle or leg. Had there been problems with the cartilage or with bone fragments, surgery would have been likely and Atkinson might have faced a recovery period of up to 18 months, he said.

"There were a few real tiny {bone} fragments and the cartilage has to have been bruised, but that's about it," said Atkinson, whose full-leg cast is supposed to be replaced this week by one that ends below the knee. "The doctors were telling me I was one of the first people in which the bones didn't break at all."

"The tough part really starts now. But I'm going to get back. I was having too much fun. I've come too far to prove myself to let an injury keep from it. I have to go back and get ready."

Asked what he will do now that he is not kicking, Atkinson said, "I'll be going to meetings, getting treatment. I don't want to just go home and say, 'See you at the end of the season if everything goes right.' I want to keep my head in it as if I were kicking. I don't know why, but I really feel good. I really think things are going to turn out all right."

Redskins trainer Bubba Tyer said he probably will list center Russ Grimm (strained back) as questionable for Sunday's game, but said there is a "good possibility" Grimm will be able to play against the Falcons after a week of rehabilitation.

Defensive tackle Darryl Grant (pulled right calf muscle) is expected to play Sunday, Tyer said, and defensive end Markus Koch (torn tendon in finger) does not need to wear a cast and will play.