Injuries taking bite out of Redskins' defense

9 may not suit up tonight

Williams is philosophical

August 19, 2005|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

The Washington Redskins' training camp is beginning to look more like an emergency ward.

As if trying to resuscitate a comatose offense isn't labor-intensive enough, the Redskins' defense is losing bodies to a spate of injuries.

As many as nine defensive players may not suit up against the Cincinnati Bengals tonight at 8 at FedEx Field in Landover. That would match the number of players that stood on the sideline in Washington's 28-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Saturday.

But if Gregg Williams, the assistant head coach in charge of the defense, is worried, he has a funny way of showing it.

"That's a part of this game," Williams said. "You deal with it during the season, too. You deal with those nicks and bumps and bruises and pulls and strains during the season, too. It's just part of the process. We've been able to kind of fit people in and keep things going."

The latest injury occurred Wednesday when strong safety Matt Bowen sprained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee. It's the same knee that required season-ending surgery last October for a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

"The only scare that we had there was that Matt tweaked his knee," coach Joe Gibbs said Wednesday evening. "The doctors took him in [from practice] just to make sure that we can do everything we can here to look at it."

The loss of Bowen further depletes a secondary that will be asked to blunt a Bengals passing attack anchored by Pro Bowl wide receiver Chad Johnson, fellow wideout T.J. Houshmandzadeh and quarterback Carson Palmer.

Safety Ryan Clark sprained the posterior cruciate ligament in his knee Monday and also will miss tonight's game. Cornerbacks Walt Harris (swollen calf) and Artrell Hawkins (strained hamstring) and safety Tony Dixon (sore hamstring) have missed several practices this week and likely won't play.

Cornerbacks Shawn Springs (sore hamstring), Carlos Rogers (bone bruise) and Garnell Wilds (bruised thigh) returned to practice this week, but may not be 100 percent.

The team sought to plug at least one hole in its safety corps by signing former Houston Texan Eric Brown on Tuesday. But a day later, the Redskins waived Brown and signed former Atlanta Falcon Siddeeq Shabazz, who likely will not play due to a lack of familiarity with Williams' complex system.

Linebacker LaVar Arrington (bone bruise) and defensive tackle Brandon Noble (staph infection) practiced for the first time this preseason earlier in the week, but likely will be held out as a precaution.

Throw in the nagging injuries of defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin (strained shoulder) and end Phillip Daniels (sore wrist) - neither of whom played against Carolina - and the Redskins' defense could be severely undermanned against Cincinnati tonight.

On the offensive side of the ball, running back Clinton Portis has a sore elbow and also may sit out tonight.

Williams, whose schemes attack offenses rather than sitting back, said the absences will allow the coaches to observe the performances of players trying to make the final 53-man roster.

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