The Washington Redskins will consider fining punter Matt Turk if he doesn't play in Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys, sources close to the situation said yesterday.
Turk has a broken finger on his left hand and told team officials the injury occurred during the Redskins' 24-10 victory at Arizona Sunday night. But the Redskins suspect Turk actually hurt himself playing basketball the following day, sources said.
Turk, who underwent surgery Wednesday and had two pins inserted in his finger, was not available to comment yesterday. He left Redskin Park without speaking to reporters and did not return telephone messages left at his home.
The Redskins looked at four punters yesterday but did not find a replacement for Turk, as they had hoped. They will try again today, when veteran punters Mike Horan and Brian Hansen are scheduled for workouts. Coach Norv Turner said the Redskins may not know until Saturday whether Turk, who has been to three straight Pro Bowls but has struggled this season, will be able to punt against the Cowboys.
Quarterback Brad Johnson will replace Turk Sunday as the holder for place kicker Brett Conway, Turner said.
"We're going to know by Saturday morning," Turner said of Turk's availability to punt. "If it doesn't look good, we'll sign someone [today]. We're just waiting to see."
Turner, director of player personnel Vinny Cerrato and owner Daniel M. Snyder declined to comment about the possibility of disciplinary action against Turk. But sources said the Redskins believe Turk violated his contract by getting hurt playing basketball and will consider their options--including a fine--if Turk doesn't play against the Cowboys.
According to sources, the Redskins studied film of the Arizona game and didn't find a play on which Turk could have injured himself, and doctors indicated it was highly unlikely that Turk could have suffered such an injury without realizing it at the time. Redskins officials said Wednesday Turk told them he didn't know exactly when during the game he was hurt.
Redskins officials weren't impressed with any of the four punters they looked at yesterday. That group included Greg Montgomery, Shayne Edge, Lonny Calicchio and John Kidd.
Conway could be an emergency punter, but special teams coach LeCharls McDaniel said the Redskins don't want to go into a game counting on Conway to punt.
"We'll see what the status is of Matt, and look at a couple other guys," McDaniel said.
Horan, 40, is a 15-year NFL veteran who has punted for the Philadelphia Eagles, Denver Broncos, New York Giants, St. Louis Rams and Chicago Bears. He played in the 1988 Pro Bowl and led the league with a 44.4-yards-per-punt average in '90. He led the league in net punting average three times and in punts inside the 20-yard line once. He has punted in three Super Bowls and shares the record for the longest punt--76 yards--in a postseason game.
Hansen, 38, is a 14-year veteran who has been with the New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns and New York Jets. He was a Pro Bowl player as a rookie in '84.
Turk has been inconsistent this season while using some new punting mechanics. Even without a broken finger, he has had trouble in the past catching snaps, dropping three of them in recent seasons on punts. In the Redskins' season-opening loss to the Cowboys, Turk mishandled a snap that prevented Conway from attempting what would have been a game-winning field goal.
If the Redskins sign a punter, they likely would have to cut a player to create a roster spot.
Conway said after working with Johnson in practice this week, he doesn't expect to have any problems with the change in holders.
"Brad has done it before," Conway said. "We worked pretty well together."