In down time, Redskins upbeat Stressing positives, 1-2 team hits bye

September 21, 1993|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

ASHBURN, VIRGINIA — ASHBURN, Va. -- It was a time for gallows humor and talk of rebounding for the Washington Redskins yesterday, the day after the team's heart-wrenching 34-31 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

"At one time, maybe you might have slit your throat, but you can only do that once," said offensive coordinator Rod Dowhower. "That's sick humor. It's nothing to laugh at."

The Redskins weren't laughing, but even the news that linebacker Andre Collins was hospitalized and might have to undergo an appendectomy didn't change the positive attitude at Redskin Park that the team will rebound from its 1-2 start.

Coach Richie Petitbon said there was a "good chance" the team would be 3-0 if Mark Rypien hadn't gotten hurt in Week 2, and said: "Things happen in this game. You get people nicked. You just have to work your way through it. We're going to win a lot of football games."

Petitbon also named rookie Reggie Brooks as starting running back after his 154-yard game and said he'd "certainly look at" using rookie Tom Carter in place of cornerback A. J. Johnson, who was burned by the Eagles' Calvin Williams.

The Redskins also said the bye week will give their injured players time to heal and quarterback Cary Conklin time to upgrade his game.

Though Rypien said he hoped to start in the next game, Oct. 4 against the Miami Dolphins, the Redskins don't think he will be back that soon.

Their most immediate concern is the condition of Collins, who missed the first three games with a knee injury and was hospitalized yesterday after getting sick Saturday night.

Collins underwent a battery of tests, and trainer Bubba Tyer said heprobably was suffering from appendicitis. The doctors aren't sure whether to operate or treat the ailment with drugs. Surgery could sideline him six weeks.

Although the Redskins insist their injury situation isn't as bad as it was last year, it continues to be a matter of concern.

Discussing the loss of Collins, Petitbon said, "I hate to dwell on injuries [but] obviously Andre's one of our better football players."

On the overall injury situation, Petitbon said, "Everybody on our team is nicked. That's why I'm saying it's a good thing the bye week is hitting this week."

The Redskins did get good news about two starters, defensive lineman Charles Mann and guard Mark Schlereth, both suffering from knee injuries that limited them Sunday.

Mann had a magnetic resonance imaging exam that revealed no serious damage to his knee, and Schlereth's injury wasn't deemed serious enough to have an MRI. Both expect to play against the Dolphins.

The team is not sure about the status of defensive lineman Eric Williams, who is due for an MRI on his knee today.

Meanwhile, the Redskins watched the videotape of Sunday's loss to the Eagles and insisted they will put it behind them.

"It's over. That's the way we look at it. You can't dwell on it," Mann said.

Mann also scoffed at the theory being mentioned in Philadelphia that the Redskins -- who have lost five of their past seven games, including playoffs -- are growing old.

"Let's see if that young Philly team makes it to the Super Bowl," Mann said. "That's where you measure yourself and they haven't been there in recent years. People are entitled to their opinions [but] I think you win with seasoned veterans."

Meanwhile, of Randall Cunningham's winning touchdown pass in the final four seconds, Petitbon said he had no second thoughts about using a zone defense because he had been burned a few times on the blitz. Petitbon said he didn't blame the defensive backs because Cunningham had time to pump a couple of times before throwing and they had to react to the pumps.

Petitbon, however, clearly was unhappy with Johnson's play.

"I didn't think he had one of his better games," the coach said. "He's got to pay attention to techniques. Sometimes, he gets a little sloppy."

Although Petitbon wouldn't rule out switching to Carter, he said it's probably too early for that move. "He's really an excellent athlete, but he's only 20 years old. You have to be careful," he said.

Petitbon now faces the task of trying to bring the team back from a slow start. It's a job that former coach Joe Gibbs mastered, and Petitbon will be judged against that standard.

"I have no qualms about motivating this football team," Petitbon said. "Instead of giving you a long dissertation on how I'm going to do that, why don't you just judge by the games and let me know if you think we're playing hard."

NOTES: Dowhower wasn't happy with the head-bob penalty on Conklin that set up an interception on the next play. He said it was a "phantom" call because Conklin simply called the play with a hard count. . . . Dowhower also said that Brian Mitchell scored on the play before Conklin threw a fourth-down touchdown pass to Ron Middleton, although officials ruled him down at the 1. . . . LB Kurt Gouveia broke a ring finger but won't miss any time. . . . The Redskins will have today off and start practicing for three days tomorrow to sharpen their game during the bye week.

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