Quarterback Mark Brunell was limited during yesterday's practice because of a strained calf, but Coach Joe Gibbs said the veteran will start tomorrow's game against San Francisco. Rookie Nick Novak will also continue place kicking, Gibbs said; John Hall is progressing from his lengthy quadriceps injury but is not yet at 100 percent.
Brunell suffered the injury midway through Thursday's practice, when he dropped back and felt a "tweak." Brunell, listed as probable, said the injury improved yesterday, but with the slick conditions the Redskins took no chances during practice. "I didn't get much work today, but I do feel better, so it's [Gibbs's] call," Brunell said yesterday. Gibbs said he expects Brunell to play. "He's fine," Gibbs said.
Running back Clinton Portis returned to practice yesterday after nursing a calf injury and will play, Gibbs said. Backup Ladell Betts, who missed the last game with a groin injury, also is ready to return. Center Casey Rabach (ankle) and cornerback Carlos Rogers (ankle) also returned to practice yesterday and are probable, while cornerback Shawn Springs (shin) practiced all week and is probable after missing the game in Kansas City.
Safety Ryan Clark, who missed last week's game with a bruised spleen, has been upgraded to probable. Defensive linemen Joe Salave'a (foot), Cedric Killings (ankle) and Aki Jones (hamstring) all missed practice the entire week, which generally means they will not play. But the Redskins are short along the line, and Gibbs said Salave'a, a starter, looks good, so he may be able to play. Killings remains questionable, however, and Jones is probable.
Starting Things Off
Gibbs said he expects Novak to continue handling kickoff duties, although punter Derrick Frost practiced them extensively this week and remains an option. Hall, who kicked for years in the difficult conditions of the Meadowlands as a New York Jet, could be back Oct. 30 against the Giants.