Chad Morton suffered a right knee ligament injury returning a kickoff in the first quarter of the Washington Redskins' 28-14 loss to the Green Bay Packers yesterday. Morton, who also returns punts, will undergo tests today to determine the severity of the injury.
Morton has been inconsistent this season, partly because he hasn't been given much room to maneuver by his blockers. He entered the game averaging 22.3 yards on kickoff returns with a long of 49, and 6.2 yards on punts with a long of 14.
Morton suffered the injury after Green Bay kicked a field goal on its first possession for a 3-0 lead. Morton took the kickoff and dashed through a hole created by a wall of Redskins blockers. After a 28-yard gain (subsequently marred by a holding penalty), Morton was tackled by defensive back Bhawoh Jue and stayed on the ground writhing in pain.
Washington's trainers rushed onto the field to examine Morton's right knee. He walked off the field with the help of two trainers and slapped his hands in anger at the injury.
If Morton's injury is long term, the fifth-year veteran probably would be replaced on kickoffs by tailback Ladell Betts and on punts by wideout James Thrash. Those two took over Morton's duties yesterday.
Betts returned two kickoffs for 57 yards, including one for 35 yards. Thrash returned two punts for a total of 17 yards.
"It's nothing new to me, I've done it before so I felt pretty good," Betts said. "I work on it all the time."
Betts was Washington's kickoff returner in 2002, with 28 returns for an average of 24.6 with a long of 60. . . .
Safety Andre Lott tore his left pectoral muscle in the third quarter, keeping him out of action the rest of the game. Lott, who was filling in for rookie Sean Taylor, had missed the previous three games with a hamstring injury. Taylor was on the inactive list after being charged with DWI on Thursday.
Brunell Draws Boo Birds
The chants for Redskins backup quarterback Patrick Ramsey started in the second quarter after Mark Brunell was intercepted by defensive back Jue on second and eight from the Washington 43-yard line.
Brunell quieted the crowd on Washington's next possession by leading an eight-play, 24-yard drive culminated by a 12-yard touchdown pass to wideout Rod Gardner. But almost each time Brunell made a bad pass, the fans reacted with boos and calls for Ramsey.
Brunell won the starting job after the 11th-year veteran was acquired in the offseason. But he has been statistically one of the NFL's worst quarterbacks.
"It's a bit of a weird feeling but Mark deserves better than that," Ramsey said. "He's out there playing his heart out. I thought he played well today. The second guy is always popular when thing aren't going well.
"I don't get caught up in that [the cheering] at all. I'm out there to provide support for Mark and our team as much as I can." . . .
Linebacker Antonio Pierce had a message for fans: "Stay with us, just like we've stayed together. If our fans are true fans we're not going to hear boos like that at a home game."
Phillips Back in Action
Right defensive end Phillip Daniels played after missing four games with a groin injury. Daniels's absence had caused the Redskins to go with obscure players Ron Warner and Demetric Evans, both of whom made their NFL starting debuts this season.
Daniels started yesterday and was in for the majority of the snaps as the Redskins held the Packers to 88 rushing yards on 28 carries. Pro Bowl tailback Ahman Green -- who entered the game leading the NFC with 649 yards -- was held to 70 yards on 24 carries.
"Every now and then I kind of felt it [the injury] but I just pushed through," said Daniels, who had two tackles. "I went out and played my game. I felt pretty good." . . .
Ola Kimrin was perfect on two field goals in his NFL regular season debut two weeks ago to help the Redskins defeat the Chicago Bears, 13-10. Yesterday, Kimrin missed his only field goal attempt -- a 35-yarder early in the fourth quarter with Washington down 20-7. The kick hit the left upright.
"It felt good the whole way," he said. "It's just one of those things when it's windy. I'd like to get that field goal back and do it all over."
In the downcast Redskins locker room after the game, a few players tried to find humor in the ostensible connection between the game and the presidential election. Since 1936, when the Redskins have won their final home game before the presidential election, the incumbent party won. Each time the Redskins lost, the challenger won.
Cornerback Shawn Springs asked reporters, "Does this mean [John] Kerry is going to win or does this mean we stink?"
Offensive coordinator Don Breaux said, "I guess Bush thought he won, huh?" . . .
Former Redskins star defensive end Dexter Manley recently moved to Chevy Chase from Houston after serving two years in state prison in Humble, Tex., for possession of crack cocaine. Manley, who was at yesterday's game, is director of community outreach for Second Genesis, which he described as the largest rehab center on the Eastern Seaboard. "I just love being back," Manley said. "I bleed burgundy and gold." . . .
After carrying the ball 36 times in the previous game, Clinton Portis ran just 17 times yesterday, his fewest carries of the season . . .
Joe Gibbs on Taylor's absence: "We'd love to have him. We think he's a great player. I'm convinced he's going to be a great player for the Redskins and we'll get him back Monday and go to work and hopefully he'll make a difference for us down the stretch."