Redskins can't figure decline in fortunes Wondering what hit them, they're now wary of Bears

November 02, 1997|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Where are the Washington Redskins really headed other than to Soldier Field today to meet the 1-7 Chicago Bears?

Washington was blind-sided by Eddie George two weeks ago in Memphis, Tenn., and destroyed by Bam Morris last week at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium.

Its defense is last in the NFL against the run; its offense is 21st overall. Redskins starters have missed 22 games because of injuries and that number will rise today. And the team has lost two in a row to teams supposedly in the soft part of the schedule.

The Redskins (4-4) were a bit subdued this week in practice as they tried to explain what has gone wrong and what they have to do to turn the season around.

The word "playoffs" was rarely heard in any corner of the locker room.

Instead, there was mostly talk about finding a way to get out of Chicago with a victory amid fear the Bears might be ready to take off after breaking the ice Monday night with a 36-33 win over the Miami Dolphins.

Bears running back Raymont Harris was treated with the utmost respect by every member of the Redskins' defense. Harris is third in the NFC in rushing with 744 yards on 173 carries.

The Redskins seemed to be wondering out loud if Harris could help Chicago drive them into an even deeper funk with another one of those effective ground-control games.

Harris will not have to run against three-time Pro Bowl linebacker Ken Harvey, who will be missing his first game after 56 straight starts. Harvey has a shoulder injury that should have kept him out last week against the Ravens, but he didn't because the 10-year veteran wanted to play.

"When I saw Kenny running with one arm hanging down at his side and barely moving, I knew there was no way he could play this week," coach Norv Turner said.

Harvey will be replaced by rookie second-round draft choice Greg Jones.

Jones, middle linebacker Marvcus Patton and rookie right linebacker Derek Smith will be playing behind a badly battered defensive line.

The only good news on the defensive line is the expected return of the team's No. 1 draft choice, Kenard Lang, at left end.

Lang's strength is stopping the run, which hasn't been accomplished too often this season.

Lang has missed the past five games after undergoing extensive surgery for an inner-ear infection. He was supposed to have a good chance of playing last week against the Ravens, but he didn't make it.

To emphasize just how important Lang is to the defense, the Redskins allowed an average of 263.6 total yards of offense in the first three games of the season, when Lang was on the field.

Without Lang for five games, Washington has allowed an average of 332.8 total yards.

On offense?

Turner can only hope that quarterback Gus Frerotte returns to his 1996 form today after several inconsistent performances that have been aided by dropped passes by supposedly sure-handed receivers.

Washington (4-4) at Chicago (1-7)

Time 1 p.m., chs. 45, 5

Line: Redskins by 2 1/2

Vs. spread: Redskins 4-4; Bears 3-5.

Last week: Redskins lost to Ravens, 20-17. Bears beat Dolphins in OT, 36-33.

Worth watching: Redskins RB Terry Allen, averaging 3.5 yards ++ per carry, will try to play after missing last week with a sprained knee.

Outlook: A healthy Bears offense delivered the first victory of the season last week in Miami. The Redskins' soft run defense should be even weaker with the loss of Pro Bowl LB Ken Harvey to a shoulder injury. Washington has lost two in a row and three of their past four.

Notable: Victory would make Bears first NFL team with 600 wins. Their record: 599-401-25.

Injuries:

REDSKINS: Out: DE Jamal Duff (ankle); LB Ken Harvey (shoulder); WR Michael Westbrook (knee). Doubtful: T Ed Simmons (knee). Probable: RB Terry Allen (knee); DT Marc Boutte (knee); G Bob Dahl (knee); DE Kenard Lang (ear); DT Chris Mims (abdomen); DE Rich Owens (back); P Matt Turk (thigh).

BEARS: Out: DE Alonzo Spellman (shoulder) Questionable: CB James Burton (leg); WR Curtis Conway (shoulder); G Chris Gray (knee); G Todd Perry (back); C Casey Wiegmann (shoulder); T James Williams (shoulder). Probable: S Marty Carter (finger); RB Raymont Harris (shoulder).

Pub Date: 11/02/97

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