'Skins left bruised after battering by Bucs

Canidate, Smoot injured

Royal out at least 6 weeks

October 14, 2003|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

ASHBURN, Va. - The Washington Redskins' run of good health took a drastic turn one day after absorbing their worst loss of the season.

Relatively injury-free for the first five games, the Redskins (3-3) learned yesterday that as many as three starters could join starting left guard Dave Fiore on the sideline for Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Running back Trung Canidate is dealing with a high right ankle sprain, and cornerback Fred Smoot has a sprained clavicle. Coach Steve Spurrier said their status - like Fiore's (ailing right knee) - won't be determined until later this week.

The most serious injury involves tight end Robert Royal, who will miss at least six weeks with a fractured right hip and could be shelved for the rest of the season.

Royal, who sat out last year with a high ankle sprain during the preseason, suffered the injury when he turned to block Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Simeon Rice in the first quarter of Tampa Bay's 35-13 win Sunday.

"When I turned it, I knew something was wrong, but I didn't know it was to this extent," said Royal, a second-year pro from Louisiana State who has caught five passes for 48 yards in five starts this season. "It was one of those crazy incidents that happened to me, but life goes on. I just have to go out there and hopefully just rehab and get stronger and come back."

Spurrier said Byron Chamberlain, who was signed by the team last week, will become the starter. Chamberlain caught three passes for 23 yards in his debut.

"Byron Chamberlain played pretty well in there for his first time," said Spurrier, who added that Kevin Ware could be promoted from the practice squad. "He [Chamberlain] did some good things here and there."

If Canidate can't play, Ladell Betts will become the featured back, and rookie Sultan McCullough could get in the game.

Defensive coordinator George Edwards said Rashad Bauman would move from his nickel back position to replace Smoot. Either of safeties David Terrell and Todd Franz could be the nickel back in Washington's five-defensive-back scheme, Edwards said.

Smoot said he will try to play in Buffalo, noting that - like Brett Favre and Jerry Rice - he is from Mississippi. "We're built to last in the country," Smoot said. "We don't miss many games."

Edwards declined to single out the defensive player who blew an assignment that allowed the Buccaneers to convert a third-and-15 from their 15-yard line.

Brad Johnson's dump-off to running back Michael Pittman covered about 10 yards, but Pittman ran another eight before Smoot tackled him at the 33.

"It was a situation where we had a miscommunication and a missed assignment," Edwards said of the critical play that helped Tampa Bay kick off a 28-point rally. "The guy just didn't pick up the back as he came out."

It was a mixed day for the Redskins' offensive line.

Washington continues to lead the league in sacks allowed with 23 after the line surrendered six sacks Sunday.

But the unit cut down on its penalties. A week after committing six false starts in a 27-25 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the line committed just one against Tampa Bay.

"Finally, I think we got a handle on the cadence, which means as soon as I say that, there'll be seven or eight offsides this week," right tackle Jon Jansen said jokingly. "Hopefully, we do have that under control and can go from there."

NOTES: Spurrier said he did not think defensive end Regan Upshaw was guilty of roughing the passer in the second quarter of Sunday's game. Upshaw's hit on Johnson on third-and-11 from Washington's 11-yard line drew a penalty and extended a Tampa Bay drive that ended in a touchdown and a 7-3 lead. "That was one of those judgment calls that was very, very, very close," Spurrier said. "We try to tell them, `Don't hit them after they throw it,' but his momentum just carried him into Johnson." ... Kicker John Hall, who has accounted for 52 of the team's 128 points and has converted 14 of 18 field-goal attempts, would be Spurrier's choice for the team's Most Valuable Player if the season ended today. "John Hall's made just about every kick," Spurrier said. "John has been outstanding."

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