Cornerback Shawn Springs was unable to practice again yesterday and could miss the Washington Redskins' game Sunday in Kansas City. Gregg Williams, assistant head coach-defense, said that if Springs, who is listed as questionable with a shin injury, is unable to participate in drills today his status for the weekend will be in jeopardy, which would be another blow at a crucial position.
Washington has been short at corner this season -- at least in part because of carrying two kickers while John Hall is injured -- and two other cornerbacks, Walt Harris and rookie Carlos Rogers, are dealing with injuries as well. Harris missed the last two games with a calf injury but has practiced this week and is not listed on the injury report. Rogers has played all four games, but is listed as probable with an ankle injury. He missed Wednesday's practice but returned yesterday.
Williams said Rogers is progressing well, but will be monitored closely at today's practice. If Springs cannot play, Harris and Rogers would likely start, leaving Ade Jimoh as the third corner. Jimoh, primarily a special teams contributor, played extensively last week in Denver and is the only other cornerback on the active roster. The fact that Springs is experienced, and used to play in the AFC West against Kansas City, is working in his favor, however.
"I don't worry as much about a guy that has played in that division," Williams said, "and has played against some of those players and has the understanding part of it. But again, [today] is big and we do believe that you have to practice before you get out there and play Sunday."
Hall (quadriceps) is expected to miss his fourth straight game, while running back Ladell Betts (groin) is also questionable and missed practice again yesterday. That may mean a bigger role for reserve runner Rock Cartwright this weekend. Running back Clinton Portis (calf) also missed practice yesterday and is probable. Defensive linemen Cornelius Griffin (wrist), Joe Salave'a (thigh) and Renaldo Wynn (knee) all practiced and are probable. Offensive lineman Randy Thomas (shoulder) also returned to practice and is probable.
Gonzalez vs. Taylor
Kansas City tight end Tony Gonzalez presents some major coverage problems for defenses with his size (6 feet 5, 251 pounds) and speed, and Williams said several players could be matched on him Sunday. Safety Sean Taylor could see the most time there, with Pro Bowl linebacker Marcus Washington getting some reps against Gonzalez.
Taylor was drafted fifth overall in 2004 at least in part to neutralize an emerging class of monster tight ends. Several now toil in the NFC East, led by New York's Jeremy Shockey, whose team hosts Washington at the end of the month.
"That's one of the reasons we drafted him. It really is," Williams said. "Looking at our division, that matchup you're not as worried as much about. It helps you when you've got a presence."
Taylor is gaining respect around the league, with quarterbacks and receivers avoiding him at times, while Gonzalez, a six-time Pro Bowl selection, has only seven catches for 34 yards in the last two games.
Tupa Still Not Ready
Veteran punter Tom Tupa, who was placed on injured reserve with a back injury before the season but hoped to get healthy and play elsewhere, was at Redskins Park yesterday and said he still cannot punt and is unsure about when he will be able to do so. . . . Williams said linebacker LaVar Arrington, who was benched in Denver, "could" play more this weekend, but did not practice more than in past weeks.