Quarterback Mark Brunell looked spry leaving Redskins Park yesterday afternoon following another round of treatment for his strained left hamstring and said the injury continues to feel better. Brunell, 34, said he is not certain if he will return to practice with the Redskins today, however. "That's up to the coaches," he said.
Coach Joe Gibbs has said that Brunell's ability to play against Dallas on Monday night at FedEx Field will be determined by his ability to practice. Backup Patrick Ramsey took 90 percent of the snaps during Tuesday's practice and the players were off yesterday. The team will be on the practice field each of the next three days before getting Sunday off, so a decision on the starting quarterback likely will come this weekend.
Brunell was listed as questionable for Monday's game, as were linebackers LaVar Arrington (knee) and Mike Barrow (knee); Arrington fully expects to play while Barrow seems likely to be inactive for the third straight game. Safety Matt Bowen (shoulder), kicker John Hall (hamstring), linebacker Antonio Pierce (ribs) and tackle Chris Samuels (groin) were listed as probable and all are expected to play. Defensive end Phillip Daniels is out at least two weeks with a groin tear.
Daniels said he was encouraged by a visit to a groin specialist on Tuesday and hopes to return to the lineup in two weeks. Daniels tore his groin on the right side in Sunday's 20-14 loss at New York and was worried that the injury was connected to a previous problem in his abdominal area that forced him out of most of training camp but was assured it was not.
"I've just got to rest it and give it some time to get well," Daniels said. "And when I come back I have to make sure that I stretch it well. . . . I heal fast so you never know, maybe I'll be back before two weeks."
Washington is carrying only seven defensive linemen on its active roster, including two ends -- Ron Warner and Demetric Evans -- with limited NFL experience; Warner is slated to start in Daniels's place this week and Evans was not activated for the game against the Giants. Two linemen -- Nic Clemons and Ryan Boschetti -- are on the practice squad and Vinny Cerrato, the team's vice president of football operations, said the Redskins had no plans to sign an additional lineman with Daniels out.
Barrow continues to battle a knee injury and did not sound optimistic about being activated for Monday's game. Barrow has not made it through a full practice since Aug. 7 and has not appeared in a preseason or regular season game. "I don't know, man," Barrow said when asked if he was progressing toward getting back on the field. "I'm just taking it day by day."
A Plan to Cut Down Turnovers
The Redskins will work hard in practice this week to eliminate the turnovers that have plagued the team the first two weeks of the season, including three fumbles and four interceptions in Sunday's loss.
Gibbs will watch the quarterbacks closely to get them to make better decisions with their passes and the running backs will spend a significant amount of time on strip drills, working to hold on to the ball. Gibbs has instructed the defense to go after the ball when lined up against the offense this week and avoiding turnovers is essential if the team is going to succeed this season.
"We'll have a lot of emphasis on it Thursday," Gibbs said, "and try to strip all the balls we can and put a real emphasis on it."