Linebacker Mike Barrow was again limited in his activities during yesterday's practice due to tendinitis in his left knee and was listed as questionable by the Redskins for Sunday's opening game against Tampa Bay at FedEx Field. Barrow has not been able to get through a full practice in more than a month and it is looking increasingly likely that Antonio Pierce will start in his place.
Coach Joe Gibbs did not rule out Barrow getting on the field Sunday, but it would be difficult to expect him to play much given that he missed all five preseason games and has not taken much contact in training camp. The loss of Barrow, a key free agent acquisition, has been countered by the emergence of Pierce, who had been limited to primarily special teams duty over the past few years. Pierce had an outstanding training camp and can play all three linebacker positions.
"With Micheal having problems this guy has stepped in there," Gibbs said. "We made a little [preseason] highlight film that we did and he's in about half, whether it's on special teams or [defense]. That's a perfect example of a guy who's super smart, super smart. He's a super smart football guy, and as a consequence you say, 'We can count on this guy.'
"When he's been in there we feel very comfortable. He's a high-quality guy that we would feel needs to be on the field anyway. When Micheal gets back in there, this guy [still] needs to be on the football field for us."
The Redskins also listed H-back Brian Kozlowski [calf strain] and safety Andre Lott [knee strain] as probable for Sunday.
S. Rice Is a Marked Man
Tampa Bay defensive end Simeon Rice will garner considerable attention from Washington on Sunday, particularly after he registered four sacks against the Redskins in a game last season. The blocking schemes are entirely different under Gibbs and protecting the passer is of the utmost importance to him. But Rice could still create problems.
Tight end Walter Rasby said he expects to line up next to left tackle Chris Samuels to double-team Rice on many plays -- "A way to slow him down is to put a tight end on his pass rush," Rasby said -- and Samuels is looking to redeem himself from last year's game.
"He had a great game," Samuels said of Rice. "I'm looking forward to playing him again." Rice expects more of a collective effort from Washington's linemen Sunday.
"Samuels blocked me twice," Rice said of his team's 35-13 win at FedEx Field Oct. 12, "and I got by him a couple of times. . . . I don't think I'll see that this time. I think they'll be ready and they've got a lot to prove this year."
When asked if there is a tight end in the NFL who could block him, Rice responded, "Yep, I just haven't found him yet." When asked what the secret to his success was, he again elicited laughs from those listening in on his conference call with the Washington media: "If I told you that, I'd have to kill you."
Live and Let Dye
Starting Redskins right guard Randy Thomas died his hair golden blond, generating considerable attention from his teammates. Thomas declined to elaborate on his choice of hair color -- "It's personal," he said -- but took the ribbing with a good sense of humor. . . .
Assistant head coach-offense Joe Bugel said that Gibbs will continue to call plays entirely by feel. The coaches do not create any scripts for the first few series, as many teams do these days.
"He goes by where the kickoff is and where you return the ball," Bugel said. "Let's go from there." The excitement for Sunday is building, Bugel said. "I can't sleep at night," he said. "My stomach is churning. . . . I'm a little nauseated but excited more than anything."