Washington Redskins tailback Stephen Davis practiced yesterday and said he expects to play Sunday against the New York Giants. But Coach Steve Spurrier said he was not convinced Davis can handle a full workload, saying Davis and Kenny Watson might split the tailback duties at Giants Stadium.
Davis was on the inactive list for the past two games because of an injured right knee. He did not practice the previous two weeks, but was back on the field at Redskins Park yesterday with a brace on his knee.
"I did some things as far as running the ball that I'm pretty confident I can do," Davis said. "I felt good. . . . I feel pretty good about Sunday."
Spurrier said he was happy to have Davis back but did not believe that the running back was fully healthy.
"Stephen ran around a little bit," Spurrier said. "He ran straight. I don't know if he's 100 percent yet or not, but he was able to do a little bit for the first time in three weeks. He's planning on suiting up. How much he can play, I think we've just got to wait and see."
Spurrier said he "possibly" would split the work between Davis and Watson, who started the last two games in Davis's place, if Davis is not at full capacity Sunday.
"There's a good chance that may happen," Spurrier said. "He'll do what he can. He's still limited somewhat. But he was out here running around for the first time in three weeks, so that's encouraging. . . . He's just not 100 percent. . . . Whether or not he's all the way ready or not, we've just got to wait and see."
The Redskins likely will lean on their running game Sunday. Giants Stadium is known for its swirling winds, and inclement weather is expected. After the Redskins threw 51 passes in last Sunday's 26-7 loss at Jacksonville, Spurrier said he abandoned the run too soon and it might be time for him to temper his confidence in his club's passing game.
Davis suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament when he originally hurt the knee during the Redskins' victory at Tennessee on Oct. 6. He kept playing, but was reinjured during an Oct. 27 win over the Indianapolis Colts.
Watson made his first NFL start the following week at Seattle and rushed for 110 yards on 23 carries in a 14-3 triumph. But he got only 14 carries against the Jaguars and ran for 52 yards. Now the Redskins hope Davis, their three-time 1,000-yard rusher and two-time Pro Bowl selection, will come to the rescue. Davis said he felt he tested the knee enough during yesterday's practice to know that he'll be ready to play in a game this weekend.
"It went pretty good," Davis said. "I'm pretty confident about what went down. I'll go out [today] and do a little more and see how it feels, and hopefully by Sunday I'll be running full, full, full, full speed."
Meanwhile, reserve safety Sam Shade said he was told by doctors to not play Sunday because of a bulging disk in his neck. Shade said he will be reevaluated today and will consult with a specialist to determine whether the injury will have long-term implications on his career.
"I'll see what's said [today], and we'll take it from there," Shade said.
Shade sat out yesterday's practice and said he was barred from contact drills by his doctors, fearing that a head-on collision could produce a serious injury. He said he suffered a disk injury last season, but played with it and was told by doctors last offseason that he did not need surgery. He aggravated the injury during the Jacksonville game, he said, and an MRI exam Monday showed no worsening of that disk but a possible problem with another disk.
Shade, 29, has played mostly on special teams since losing his starting job at strong safety to Ifeanyi Ohalete. His football future was uncertain even before the injury.
Bailey to Return Punts
Cornerback Champ Bailey will serve as the punt returner Sunday, Spurrier said. Bailey struggled on punt returns in Jacksonville after regular returner Jacquez Green, who was released Tuesday, got hurt. . . . Spurrier said it's possible wide receiver Justin Skaggs, who was promoted from the practice squad Tuesday, will be on the active roster Sunday and play on special teams. . . . The Redskins signed wide receiver Richmond Flowers to take Skaggs's place on the five-member practice squad. Flowers was with the Dallas Cowboys during training camp and was featured prominently on the HBO series, "Hard Knocks." "That was an exciting time," Flowers said, "but it's over."