The Washington Redskins will be without several starters for their preseason finale against the Atlanta Falcons Friday night, and it looks increasingly likely that linebacker Mike Barrow will be out for the first regular season game as well.
Barrow has not practiced in three weeks because of a knee injury and has yet to play in a preseason game. He did not put on pads or a helmet during yesterday's workout and said that he would not be able to play Friday even if it was a regular season game. The rest of the defense is relatively intact, however, with linebacker LaVar Arrington again practicing yesterday and likely to play at least a few snaps Friday. Arrington has maintained throughout the last few weeks that he could play if these were regular season games and he has been missing games and practices to ensure his knee injury is not exacerbated.
The offensive line will be reshaped on Friday as injuries mount. Starting right tackle Jon Jansen was lost for the season in the preseason opener on Aug. 9, and starting left tackle Chris Samuels remains out with an ankle injury. Samuels has not practiced since spraining his right ankle last Friday in St. Louis and he will not play against the Falcons Friday at FedEx Field. Samuels is no longer in a walking cast but is still wearing a splint and is unsure exactly when he can return to the field.
"We're just resting it right now," Samuels said.
Starting right guard Randy Thomas, who sprained his neck lifting weights over the weekend, said he is feeling better but he too missed practice again yesterday and said he will miss Friday's game as well.
"My goal now is [the opening game against] Tampa Bay," Thomas said. "That's my feel on it. We're going to be smart with it, man. Next week is the regular season and that's my goal."
Coach Joe Gibbs said that running back Rock Cartwright might also miss Friday's game because of a stinger in his neck. Cartwright did not practice yesterday but said he is not ruling out playing against Atlanta and does not believe the injury is serious.
"I just think it's a little pinched nerve in my neck," Cartwright said. "I think I'll be able to go [Friday]."
There is considerable competition at the running back spot with final cuts set for Sunday, and Friday's game will be the last opportunity for bubble players such as Cartwright to prove they belong among the 53 players who stay in Washington.
"I know that if I don't make plays then I won't be here," Cartwright said. "I'm just going to go out and try to contribute on special teams, offense, and if they need me to do something on defense, I'll be willing to do that. Anything to make this roster, I'm willing to do."
Tight end Fred Baxter remains out with a knee injury and has not practiced in weeks.
Sanders Draws a Buzz
The return of former Redskin Deion Sanders continues to elicit compliments from Washington players. Sanders has signed with Baltimore and will face the Redskins in October. "It's good for the game," cornerback Shawn Springs said. "He brings the excitement to the game, and I like to laugh and I think he's pretty funny." . . .
With a lack of players for some special teams drills yesterday, reserve kicker Ola Kimrin, who has impressed with his accuracy, was manning a blocking spot on kick return drills. "If we can use you, we'll work you," special teams coach Danny Smith said.