Rypien to miss 3-6 weeks, but only 1 game, he says Fast heal, bye week key for Redskins QB

September 14, 1993|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

ASHBURN, Va. -- Quarterback Mark Rypien gets another chance to prove he's a quick healer.

"He's tough. He's exceedingly tough," Dr. Charles Jackson said yesterday after announcing that the Washington Redskins quarterback will be out three to six weeks with a torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee.

"He's shocked us in the past at how quickly he's returned," Jackson added.

This time, it won't be a shock if he comes back quickly. Rypien and Jackson said after Rypien underwent a magnetic resonance imaging exam, which revealed the tear, that it's more likely he'll be back in three weeks than six weeks.

"I'm shooting for the Miami game [on Oct. 4]," Rypien said.

"I would take the short side [three weeks]," Jackson said.

That would mean Rypien would miss one game, because the Redskins have a bye next week after playing the Eagles at Philadelphia on Sunday.

Rypien, who won't need surgery, came back after six weeks in 1990, when he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee for a tear in his anterior cruciate ligament.

He went on to start 48 straight games -- 41 in the regular season -- before being knocked out in the second period of the 17-10 loss to the Phoenix Cardinals on Sunday.

That was the third-longest string of starts among active quarterbacks. Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins leads with 142 straight starts, and Jim Everett of the Los Angeles Rams is second at 82. Troy Aikman of the Dallas Cowboys and Jim Kelly of the Buffalo Bills now are tied for third at 18.

The Redskins were relieved to find out they'll get Rypien back at some point this season.

"I'm optimistic we got a report that he's not gone for the season," coach Richie Petitbon said. "I don't want to get too optimistic. He's a fast healer, and we'll have to see."

In Rypien's absence, Cary Conklin, who had thrown just two passes in three seasons before taking over in the Phoenix game, will make his first start.

It's the fourth time since 1985 the Redskins will have to give a quarterback his first NFL start because of an injury. In 1985, Jay Schroeder came in after Joe Theismann broke his leg. In 1988, Rypien made his first start when Doug Williams underwent an appendectomy. And, in 1990, Stan Humphries got his first start when Rypien injured his knee.

Rich Gannon, who was obtained in a trade Aug. 19 and still is learning the offense, will be the backup, and running back Brian Mitchell will be the emergency quarterback.

Petitbon said he doesn't want to cut a player he can use in practice to bring in another quarterback, because he has several other players on the shelf, including tight end Terry Orr (back), linebacker Andre Collins (knee) and defensive lineman Sterling Palmer (knee).

"I just don't think it makes any sense [to sign another quarterback]. You've got people hurt. The [roster] spot is really important for us. With Ryp coming back, I think you roll the dice for a couple of weeks," Petitbon said.

When he was asked yesterday if he feels comfortable with Conklin, the coach said: "Do I have any other choices? I think Cary's going to be all right. I think he's just inexperienced. That's a very tough situation to get thrown into without any real background. He's going to have to grow up fast."

Of Conklin's performance against Phoenix, Petitbon said: "I think he improved as the game wore on. I think he started slowly, but in the second half he made some nice plays, and some of the things that didn't go his way weren't totally his fault. I thought he settled down pretty well in the second half. Hopefully, he can take it from there."

Of the difference between Rypien and Conklin, Petitbon said: "He's inexperienced. That's a big thing. At that position, experience means a great deal. He's got a lot of talent -- big, strong kid, strong arm. It's his baptism of fire, man."

When Petitbon was told he didn't seem to be giving Conklin a vote of confidence, he said: "I wouldn't say that. I just think it's an unknown quantity. I think everybody's in the same boat on this one. We're just going to have to wait and see how he does. He just hasn't been at it enough to know what he's going to do."

Offensive coordinator Rod Dowhower was more positive when he discussed Conklin, saying: "I've had some young guys go in there, and they go into another world. I thought he had a lot of poise in the second half, and I thought he did a good job. Now, there are some things he can do better, and I expect him to improve a heck of a lot during this next week."

Conklin, meanwhile, said: "I feel like I'm ready to play."

NOTES: The Redskins also have got to be concerned about their left tackle spot, where Jim Lachey is out for the season. Moe Elewonibi pulled a hamstring Sunday, and the Redskins don't know if he can practice this week. Joe Jacoby came out with a knee injury, and Petitbon hopes he can see some action in practice. Elewonibi couldn't practice last week because he was in the hospital with a staph infection.

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