Redskins' bad break: Green out CB faces surgery on arm, likely sidelined for season

September 15, 1992|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

ASHBURN, Va. -- The Washington Redskins now face the task of trying to repeat as NFL champions without one of the players they least could afford to lose -- five-time Pro Bowl cornerback Darrell Green.

The Redskins yesterday announced that Green, who fractured the radius bone in his right forearm Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, must undergo surgery and probably will be lost for the season.

Trainer Bubba Tyer said that Green must decide whether to have a plate inserted at the point of the break or to have pins inserted in his arm. Doctors failed in an attempt to set the break yesterday without surgery.

Although the plate is more likely to guarantee the break will heal properly, it is a major surgical procedure, and the plate would have to be removed when Green's career is over.

In any case, Green, 32, is likely to be sidelined for at least three months.

Richie Petitbon, the assistant coach who runs the Redskins' defense, said: "Three months is a long time. It'd be a miracle [if he made it back this season]. For all practical purposes, I think he's out."

For the second time in his four-year career, A. J. Johnson will move into the lineup to replace Green and Sidney Johnson, who was cut at the beginning of the season, will be re-signed to replace Green, who'll go on injured reserve.

Green missed the final nine games of the 1989 season after he broke his left wrist against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After Green was injured, the Redskins lost three of their next four games, but rallied to win their last five with A. J. Johnson and Martin Mayhew as cornerbacks.

"I'm not worried at all about what we have now," Petitbon said. "I think we'll do well. The thing that bothers is [another] injury. If that happens, then we have problems. A Darrell Green is hard to replace, but we can do that, and I think we'll still do OK. If somebody else goes down, we'll have problems."

What concerns Petitbon is that A. J. Johnson has a history of being injured. Last year, he was expected to beat out Mayhew for a starting spot, but he dislocated a bone in his wrist in camp and wasn't activated until the sixth week.

With Green out, the Redskins simply don't have much depth at cornerback behind A. J. Johnson and Mayhew. Alvoid Mays, Sidney Johnson and Johnny Thomas are reliable backups but unproven as starters.

Mays and Sidney Johnson each started once in 1990, when the Redskins tried a scheme with six defensive backs against the Detroit Lions' run-and-shoot offense .

Green was just rounding into shape after missing training camp in a holdout before signing a three-year, $4.5 million contract.

"He was rusty at first. You could see improvement, and he was starting to come around," Petitbon said. "It's unfortunate. It's a tough deal."

Petitbon said he didn't think the fact Green was rusty after the holdout had anything to do with the injury. "It probably had no bearing at all," he said. "That's something you never know."

Green suffered the injury when he apparently was kicked while trying to tackle Mike Pritchard of the Falcons.

"He just put his arm out. It was one of those freak things. He should have drank more milk, I guess," Petitbon said. "It was no big deal [at first]. He bounced right up and then it probably . . . It's a bad break."

It must have taken an instant for Green to feel the pain, because he then went to the ground.

"We didn't get a break there, either," Petitbon said. "A lot of time, [with a] clean break, you can be back in a month or so, but it doesn't look like that's the case."

Before the injury, Green had talked about how staying injury-free was a key to repeating. Last year, none of the Redskins' Pro Bowl players was injured, although the team started the season without tight end Don Warren and lost three starters, defensive end Markus Koch, safety Alvin Walton and offensive tackle Ed Simmons, during the year.

Before Sunday, they already had lost one starter, defensive tackle Eric Williams, for 10 weeks with a knee injury in training camp.

Coach Joe Gibbs said a team never knows when the breaking point comes with injuries.

"You've got to have other guys come through in these situations," he said. "We all know if you go too far, you run out of guys to come through."

NOTES: Gibbs said WR Stephen Hobbs, who sprained a knee Sunday, is "iffy" for Sunday's game against the Lions. . . . Joe Jacoby is expected back after twisting a knee for the second straight week.

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