The Washington Redskins are looking more likely to be without the services of at least a few key veterans Monday for their preseason opener. Starting linebackers LaVar Arrington (sore right shin) and Mike Barrow (tendinitis in left knee) missed the morning and evening practices yesterday, while running back Clinton Portis (groin pull) aggravated his injury in the morning practice and missed the night session, which was held at an undisclosed area high school.
Coach Joe Gibbs said he has not decided which injured players to rule out of Monday's game and director of sports medicine Bubba Tyer and his staff will meet today to make determinations on all the injured players, 14 total. Barrow's injury appeared serious, as he went down in the morning and could not finish practice. An MRI exam revealed tendinitis.
"We'll just take it day to day and see how he's doing," Tyer said.
Arrington's bruised shin should not keep him out much longer, Tyer said, and he could return to practice today.
Defensive end Phillip Daniels saw an abdominal specialist yesterday and got a good report, but he has been out most of the week with the strain and is expected out at least a few more days ("I think it will probably be awhile on that," Gibbs said).
Offensive lineman Randy Thomas continues to experience swelling in his knee and also pulled a muscle in his torso, forcing him out of practice yesterday.
Portis, meantime, first felt discomfort in his groin on Thursday and will be watched closely today to determine if he will be cleared to play Monday against Denver, the team he was acquired from for Champ Bailey in the offseason.
The Redskins kept practice brief this morning and spent the evening session hashing out details like the pregame warm up routine, running through halftime procedures, getting the players used to the substitution patterns and the general working of the coaching staff.
"We try to simulate the organization of what we'll do and get the players used to that," Gibbs said.
Pepper Rodgers, the team's vice president of football operations, announced his retirement yesterday. Rodgers, 72, was a longtime associate of former coach Steve Spurrier. He spent four years in the organization and he was a central figure in attracting Spurrier to Washington from the University of Florida. However, his role has seemed to diminish in recent months with the regime change.
Gibbs is also the team's president and brought back much of the staff that coached with him here before. "Pepper has played an important role with the Redskins," owner Daniel Snyder said in a statement.
One of the changes to which Gibbs is adapting after 11 years away from coaching is advances in sideline technology. Coaches now wear headsets that are wired to a quarterback's helmet to call plays; Gibbs and his staff were used to using hand signals and yelling to get the plays in.
Gibbs will be calling plays, with assistant head coach-offense Joe Bugel and offensive coordinator Don Breaux on the sidelines with him to assist. Quarterbacks coach Jack Burns will be wired with them from a perch in the press box getting an overhead view.
Gibbs is also studying the option of going for a two-point conversion, which was not part of the NFL during his previous tenure, and the ability to challenge calls with instant replay.
"I've got a lot to learn," he said.