The Washington Redskins' struggling special-teams unit suffered a setback yesterday when it was learned that Pro Bowl punter Matt Turk had broken the middle finger on his left hand during Sunday's 24-10 victory over Arizona.
While Turk may be able to punt Sunday at Dallas, it is highly unlikely he'll be able to hold for field goals. That means quarterback Brad Johnson, who has experience as a holder, may handle the job on Sunday. After yesterday's practice, Johnson stayed on the field to work on his holding with long snapper Dan Turk and place kicker Brett Conway.
"Brad has held before," said Coach Norv Turner. "I'd prefer him not to, but he's probably our best solution."
Turner added: "We hope it's not going to affect [Turk] from the standpoint of being able to punt. It's very questionable whether he'd be able to hold. It's something we're going to have to address."
The Redskins plan to work out several kickers today, hoping to find a veteran who can punt against Dallas if Turk can not play.
Turk was scheduled to undergo surgery last night at Arlington Hospital, where physician Jeffrey Lovallo was to insert a pin in the finger, which is fractured along the joint line, according to Redskins trainer Bubba Tyer. Turk also will wear a splint.
Turk told Tyer after the Arizona game that he didn't recall suffering the injury. Tyer examined the sore finger at the time, but it appeared to be a sprain. X-rays performed yesterday morning confirmed the fracture.
Turner said he was concerned about the risk of a turnover if Turk attempted to hold. "We'll make sure over the next three days that he can handle the football, and we won't put him out there if there is any possibility of a turnover," Turner said.
Turk had gotten off to an uneven start this season, as had the special teams in general, partly because of a new NFL rule mandating the use of a brand new ball on punts and kickoffs. Through five games, he was averaging 41.7 yards per punt, compared with 44.1 yards last season.
Honors for Bailey
Rookie cornerback Champ Bailey was named NFC defensive player of the week for his three-interception performance against Arizona.
Bailey is the youngest player in NFL history to get three interceptions in a game. He returned his first interception 59 yards for a touchdown to give Washington a 10-3 lead.
It's the fourth week this season that a Redskin has been honored as an NFC player of the week. Johnson won offensive honors in Weeks 2 and 4, following victories over the New York Giants and Carolina Panthers. Defensive end Kenard Lang won defensive honors for his three-sack performance in the 27-20 victory over the New York Jets.
Surgery for Strickland
Linebacker Fred Strickland is expected to miss three weeks with a sprain of his posterior cruciate knee ligament. Strickland will undergo arthroscopic surgery on the knee today for a different matter, to clean up some loose meniscus in the joint.
With Strickland sidelined, Turner said he'll move backup Twan Russell to strong-side linebacker, where he will take over Strickland's role backing up Greg Jones. Eddie Mason, who was signed on Sept. 21, will take over as Shawn Barber's backup at weak-side linebacker.
Green Gets a Breather
Cornerback Darrell Green was given the day off from practice yesterday. He said he felt fine and planned to return to practice today. . . . Running back Stephen Davis (sprained ankle) said he felt "well and dandy" yesterday and participated in most of practice, sharing snaps with Skip Hicks. Turner said he expected Davis to be fully ready by Sunday. . . . Center Cory Raymer missed practice with a sprained toe and is probable for Sunday. . . . Tight end James Jenkins (knee) continued his rehabilitation and did limited work in practice. . . . Defensive end Ndukwe Kalu is expected to miss three weeks with the broken foot he suffered Sunday.