The rush of kicking three perfect field goals yesterday afternoon -- accounting for all of the Washington Redskins' offense in a 9-7 opening day victory over Chicago -- had long since faded, and agony befell every pore of John Hall's face. Hall had been something of a hero in his first game back from a season-ending injury, but the uncertainty of when he will be able to kick again trumped any lingering joy.
Hall, 31, strained his right quadriceps on his final kickoff of the game, suffering the same injury that wrecked his 2004 season. Bubba Tyer, the Redskins' director of sports medicine, said it was too soon to put a timetable on Hall's return, but his words were ominous. "It's not good," Tyer said. "We know from his history with it that it's not good."
For Hall, that means a significant early-season injury for the second straight year, and for the Redskins it means another potential special teams crisis while they scramble to audition kickers yet again. "I pretty much worked my butt off to get back," Hall said. "I'm disappointed, but we've got a good medical staff, so we'll see what happens."
Coach Joe Gibbs was in contact with special teams coach Danny Smith after the game, telling him to put together a short list of potential replacements (Jeff Chandler, beaten out by Hall in the preseason, might be an option). Hall was limited to eight games last season -- he missed five games in October and November and was placed on injured reserve Dec. 16. His replacements, Chandler and Ola Kimrin, made just 11 of 18 attempts.
"We told Danny to get right on it," Gibbs said, "and we told our trainers to get right on it and try to get us some kind of feeling."
Hall, who signed a hefty free agent contract before the 2003 season, gave the Redskins a 3-0 lead midway through the second quarter, converting a field goal from 40 yards. He was called on again with a minute left in the half, and was true from 43 yards out. He nailed what turned out to be the game-winning kick late in the third quarter, a 19-yard chip shot.
It was on the ensuing kickoff that the injury occurred. Hall said he felt the twinge after striking the ball. When asked if he could have made another kick if necessary, he mustered a positive response -- "Sure, yeah, of course" -- but his body language told a different story. With the Redskins not playing again until Monday, Hall is hopeful that a week of treatment could help.
"We'll see what happens," Hall said. "We don't really know how extensive it is, so we'll wait and see."