Washington Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs said yesterday that the team is considering placing middle linebacker Mike Barrow on injured reserve if his knee injury doesn't improve. Doing so would end the 12-year veteran's season.

Barrow, signed in the offseason to a six-year, $11.6 million contract (that includes a $2.5 million bonus) with the expectation he would be the starter, hasn't played an exhibition or regular season game for the Redskins. Gibbs cited the need to fill the roster spot as a reason to make such a move if Barrow remains hurt.

"It's getting kind of to a critical stage," Gibbs said. "You can't keep going short a guy. He knows that. We need to have something happen there because it's been a long time now."

Barrow, 34, said he is suffering from a tendon tear in his left knee, although the injury was initially described by the team as severe tendinitis. Yesterday, Barrow said he was surprised that the club would consider ending his season.

"I'm just trying to get healthy, so I'm not looking ahead," Barrow said. "I'm just going day by day, trying to get healthy so I can play. That [going on the injured list] is not anything I need to think about. I'm just frustrated at being hurt."

Barrow has been replaced in the starting lineup by middle linebacker Antonio Pierce, who has emerged from the obscurity of special teams and played well.

Before this season, Barrow was known for his sturdiness, missing only five games out of 176 during a long NFL career. Barrow hadn't missed more than one game in a season since 1995, when he was out for three games.

Portis, Davis Meet Again

Running back Clinton Portis faces his former college coach when the Redskins play at Cleveland tomorrow. Portis had a strained relationship with Browns Coach Butch Davis when the two were at the University of Miami.

Davis, who was coach for Portis's first two years, had a philosophy in which underclassmen waited their turn for playing time. When Portis entered as a freshman in 1999, he was third on the depth chart, with James Jackson as the starter. When Miami's top two tailbacks were injured by the fifth game, Portis received playing time and set a school freshman record with 838 rushing yards.

But Portis and his brash personality didn't exactly endear himself to Davis when during his freshman season Portis declared himself the school's best tailback. The relationship reached a low point when Portis rushed for 137 yards in the first half in one game and Davis replaced him with Jackson in the second half. . . .

Kickoff and punt returner Chad Morton surprised the Redskins by participating in his first practice this week after suffering a concussion and sprained knee Monday. Morton, who withstood a vicious hit while returning a punt in the third quarter, will see if he can play during warmups Sunday. Morton is listed as questionable with a knee injury . . .

Safety Andre Lott (hamstring) won't play tomorrow after being listed as questionable for most of the week. . . .

Dallas Cowboys safety Roy Williams has been fined $7,500 for his helmet-to-helmet hit on wide receiver Laveranues Coles in Monday night's win over the Redskins.