Matthews gives Washington slotback start

CFLS NOTEBOOK

November 25, 1994|By Ken Murray and Roch Eric Kubatko | Ken Murray and Roch Eric Kubatko,Sun Staff Writers

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Joe Washington, who made three critical catches in Baltimore's Eastern final victory at Winnipeg, will start in Sunday's Grey Cup in place of slotback Shawn Beals.

Beals hyper-extended his knee in the 14-12 win Sunday, and will be able to play Sunday against the B. C. Lions at B. C. Place.

But Washington has earned the right to start, coach Don Matthews said yesterday.

"There are a lot of crossing [patterns] we'll be doing," Matthews said, "and Joe's going to get some good matchups."

Washington's three catches went for 49 yards last week. He had 12 catches for 192 yards and one touchdown during the regular season, most of which he spent as a backup receiver.

"My mind-set is to go in and help the offense keep going as smoothly as if Shawn was in the game," Washington said.

"I learned a lot from all our vets, B. K. [Williams], Chris [Armstrong] and Shawn."

Comfortable with McManus

When asked after Wednesday's practice if there was concern about quarterback Kent Austin's uncertain health going into Sunday's game, B.C. Lions coach Dave Ritchie smiled and said, "Not with me."

Why should he worry after what his backup, Danny McManus, did Sunday in snowy Calgary?

Bearing scant resemblance to the befuddled quarterback who couldn't throw straight in his first start on Oct. 22, a 48-31 loss to the Baltimore CFLs at Memorial Stadium, McManus led B. C. back from a 13-point deficit late in the third quarter of the Western Division final.

His 4-yard pass to Darren Flutie on the game's last play gave the Lions a 37-36 win over the favored Stampeders, putting them in the Grey Cup for the first time in five years.

And putting Ritchie's mind at ease.

Austin has a third-degree separation of his left shoulder, the same injury that knocked him out of the Baltimore game after he relieved McManus, who had completed two of 12 passes with an interception.

Sunday's Grey Cup awaits. Baltimore is the opponent. And though Ritchie still hasn't named a starter -- he said a decision may not come until "one hour before the game" -- McManus could get the nod.

He put together two impressive outings after the Baltimore debacle. He was 26 of 36 for 355 yards and two touchdowns against Las Vegas, and 17 of 33 for 278 yards and two scores against Calgary. But when Austin was healthy enough to start the Western semifinal at Edmonton on Nov. 12, McManus went back to the bench.

He would have stayed there, too,if Austin hadn't gone down in the third quarter of the Calgary game.

McManus has his own health problems, though not as serious. He has been playing with a deep thigh bruise that limits his mobility, a key component of the Canadian brand of football.

Both quarterbacks received treatment yesterday before a closed practice.

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"I expect them both to be back to normal," Ritchie said.

Miscellaneous

Rush end Elfrid Payton (shoulder), nose tackle Jearld Baylis (calf) and wide-out Walter Wilson (shoulder) sat out yesterday's practice at B. C. Place, although all three will play, Matthews said. . . Mike Alexander worked at Wilson's spot. . . . CFLs #F spokesman Mike Gathagan said WJFK (1300 AM) will carry the radio broadcast of the game with Tom Matte, Bruce Cunningham and former Baltimore Colts running back Joe Washington.

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