Monk, Schlereth raise questions for Redskins Receiver's output, lineman's knee iffy

December 22, 1992|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

ASHBURN, VA — ASHBURN, Va. -- The Washington Redskins, looking for a back door into the playoffs, will go into the regular-season finale Saturday worrying about offensive lineman Mark Schlereth's knee and wide receiver Art Monk's hands.

Schlereth, who told the coaches he'd be willing to undergo arthroscopic surgery this week if they wanted him to because his knee is hurting "seven days a week, 24 hours a day," was told the operation likely would sideline him four to six weeks, so he'd miss the playoffs if the Redskins make it.

Schlereth, who had hoped surgery would sideline him only two weeks, then decided he'd try to keep playing on his ailing left knee Saturday against the Los Angeles Raiders and delay the surgery.

If the Redskins win, they'll qualify Sunday if either the Green Bay Packers lose to the Minnesota Vikings or the New York Giants lose to the Philadelphia Eagles.

"We've got two teams [Minnesota and Philadelphia] playing at home. If either one of them wins, we're in," Gibbs said.

Monk is healthy, but his production has dropped off so dramatically that the Redskins are looking for explanations. They insist he hasn't lost a step even though he turned 35 on Dec. 5.

Monk caught only one pass for the third straight game when the Redskins lost to the Philadelphia Eagles, 17-13, Sunday.

Monk, who rarely talks to reporters, declined comment yesterday, but quarterback Mark Rypien and coach Joe Gibbs said they've looked at the videotape of the Eagles game specifically to see why Monk hasn't been more involved.

"I looked at the mental aspect of it to see if I'm cutting my reads short," Rypien said. "There were probably two or three instances if I would have read things out, Art would have [had a chance to make a catch].

"There's no doubt here if we can start getting Art involved, he's going to be one of the guys who lead us down the road. It [lack of catches] has nothing to do with Art and what he's doing. It has more to do with what defenses are doing," Rypien added.

Gibbs said, "I went through that thing myself to break it down. I counted about seven of those that if there was a primary receiver, it was Art Monk. But the coverages we're getting, they're either taking them away or we have bad protection and Ryp has to run or something like that."

Monk, who broke the career reception record earlier this season, has 43 catches this year while Gary Clark had 59 and Ricky Sanders 51. He caught 71 last year and his lowest total in a season in which he has started 16 games was 68 in 1990.

"It's got me about as buffaloed as anybody," Gibbs said. "We like to get the balls evenly disbursed as best we can. The very first pass of the game was designed really to go to Art Monk, but they had him sandwiched. This week, he'll probably jump out of there with five or six catches."

One of Monk's records -- his single-season mark of 106 catches in 1984 -- could fall this Sunday because Green Bay's Sterling Sharpe goes into the finale with 102 receptions.

"I think he'll be one of the best at understanding that [records often get broken]," Gibbs said.

Meanwhile, Schlereth keeps astounding the coaches by playing well despite the painful knee injury.

"He's one of the toughest guys I've ever been associated with," said offensive line coach Jim Hanifan.

Hanifan told Schlereth it was his decision, but he'd miss the rest of the season if he underwent the surgery.

The Redskins stressed that Schlereth isn't aggravating the injury by playing.

Trainer Bubba Tyer said, "It's a painful thing for him and it's annoying and if it gets to the point where it gets too painful or affects the way he plays then we'll go in and do it."

NOTES: Besides Schlereth, the other nine ailing players are Sanders (knee), Charles Mann (knee), Terry Orr (knee), Danny Copeland (calf), Kurt Gouveia (shoulder), A. J. Johnson (heel, shoulder), Darrell Green (heel), Andre Collins (ribs) and Brian Mitchell (foot). Most will play Sunday.

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