The Washington Redskins are bracing for the possibility that starting defensive end Phillip Daniels could be lost indefinitely after aggravating a groin injury in the first half of Sunday's 17-10 victory over the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Daniels, one of the team's bigger free agent signings, said he felt his groin pop, forcing him to leave the game and, perhaps, miss several weeks if not the rest of the season.
Daniels endured groin and abdominal injuries in training camp, managed to return for the start of the season and then missed four games after tearing his groin in Week 2. Daniels visited several specialists, played in last week's loss to Green Bay and believed he was back to full health at the start of the Lions game, before getting hurt in the second quarter. Daniels will undergo further testing Monday and could require surgery.
"I felt it pop again and it's just frustrating," Daniels said. "It felt great, probably the best I felt all year, and it's just one of those things. I have to seek out some guys and see what's really causing me to have this problem over and over again. It's just one of those things."
Daniels was pushing a tackle inside on a draw play when the injury occurred. He stayed in for the next play but could not move laterally, and had to come out of the game. The Redskins have been hit by injuries since the first preseason game, when offensive lineman Jon Jansen suffered a season-ending Achilles' injury, and the trend has troubled Coach Joe Gibbs.
"My concern for us is that we keep losing people," Gibbs said. "You always worry that they're going to take their toll."
The Redskins again played without injured safeties Andre Lott and Matt Bowen, both out for the season, and linebackers LaVar Arrington and Mike Barrow, who could return at some point (Barrow has not played all season due to a knee problem). No one else suffered a significant injury in this game, team officials said, although safeties Todd Franz and Ryan Clark, cornerback Shawn Springs and defensive lineman Renaldo Wynn left the game for a few plays with minor ailments.
Defense Shines Again
Defensive lineman Cornelius Griffin had another outstanding game, picking up two more sacks, helping to stuff the run on the interior and defending two passes, as well. Griffin and the combination of Joe Salave'a and Brandon Noble have helped the Redskins become a top team against the run. They also pressured Lions quarterback Joey Harrington throughout the game.
"They brought the blitz a lot," Lions receiver Reggie Swinton said. "And I don't think Joey had time. When Joey doesn't have time, he has to scramble around to find us, and it is going to hurt you."
Washington's defense ranks first in the NFL overall, despite the loss of several key players to injury. Reserve linemen Demetric Evans and Ron Warner played much of this game with Daniels and Wynn missing time due to injuries. Detroit rushed for just 64 total yards on 24 carries -- a 2.7 yard per carry average -- and no runner gained more than 21 yards.
Griffin, a free agent signing in the offseason, has greatly bolstered what was a struggling defensive line, and leads the team with four sacks, one shy of his career-best set as a rookie with the New York Giants in 2000.
Offensive Struggles Continue
The Redskins continued to struggle on third down, going just 3 for 14. They were 1 for 10 last week and have struggled on third down all season. . . . The Redskins lost another video replay challenge -- questioning whether Harrington was over the line of scrimmage on a throw -- another common theme thus far. . . . Gibbs continued to use more trickery -- a staple in his first tenure with the Redskins -- with a halfback option pass leading to a touchdown and a reverse getting stopped for a big loss. But the team again failed to connect on a deep passing play. . . . H-back Brian Kozlowski caught his first pass of the season and was used much more than in weeks past. . . . The Redskins had numerous personal fouls called against them which could have swayed the game. Cornerback Fred Smoot and linebacker Antonio Pierce were called for unnecessary roughness when hitting opponents out of bounds, and Smoot also drew a 15-yard taunting penalty. . . . Washington did not activate recent signings Vaughn Parker (offensive line) and Antonio Brown (return man). . . . Place kicker John Hall was out with a groin injury; his replacement, Ola Kimrin, hit a 24-yard field goal and hit the crossbar from 51-yards out. Receiver Darnerien McCants and defensive lineman Jermaine Haley were also inactive.