If it weren't for something called surgery, Russ Grimm might not have missed a game this year.

Grimm, the Washington Redskins' center/guard, has been known to make a mockery of injury reports, often times showing up for duty when he's supposedly "doubtful."

Unfortunately, doctors strapped him down for arthroscopic knee surgery on Nov. 10, forcing him to miss consecutive games for the first time since 1981. Five weeks later, he has grown bored and lonely, yet seemingly is ecstatic now that pain might be around the bend again.

"I'm looking forward to getting my pads on," he said Wednesday, his first day of practice since the injury. "It's been a long time since my neck's been sore from hitting somebody, and it's been a long time since I had any bruises. In other words, I've been pretty comfortable sleeping. After a while, it gets a little boring."

A bland Redskins running offense could surge with the return of Grimm -- a three-time Pro Bowl selection -- though the team is in no hurry to activate him and risk reinjury before the playoffs.

"But if he's the solution to our running game, I'll be glad to have him back in there," running back George Rogers said.

Had it not been for surgery, Grimm says he almost certainly would have tried to play. A season ago, he blocked the Bears' William Perry with severely bruised ribs, his only fear being that Perry might sit on him. Earlier in the season, he had played with a slight hamstring pull and a sprained neck, which was partly why he made the All-John Madden team for an unprecedented third straight season.

He sprained his left knee this year against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 8 and was out in the woods hunting a few days later, crutches replaced by rifle.

"It's not like you can tape it or put a brace around it or anything like that," Grimm said of his knee injury. "They tell you four weeks minimum, and all you can do is wait.

"Hey, someday I hope {doctors} get to the point they can snip the leg off and strap another one on and have it work. Maybe someday, they'll get to that. Sitting . . . that's the worst part of football."

While injured, Grimm would become jealous of teammate Joe Jacoby because Jacoby was allowed to sweat and get dirty.

"I've been friends and played with these guys {on the offensive line} for six, seven years," said Grimm, 28. "You don't notice it when you're playing, but when you're the one that gets injured, it's like there's a big piece missing. Even though they're still you're friends, you no longer feel the friendship's at the same level because you're no longer out there on the field sweating all week and getting banged up and going through the things they're going through."

Ironically, Grimm broke a personal trend and spent most of last summer in the weight room, specifically to prevent injuries this season. In the past, Grimm said he spent summers on the fairways.

"Up until this past year, I spent probably an hour {in the weight room} before tee off, or something like that," he said.

"{Lifting} was never something I really wanted to do. I was always able to get by with just athletic ability, and what happened was that the injuries started catching up to me . . . I had to say to myself, 'Hey, I've got to get in gear or I'm taking years away from my career.' Not only was I hurting myself, but I was hurting guys I was playing with. So, I had to re-evaluate.

And then -- definitely firmer -- he went out and messed up his knee.

"Explain that one," he said.