- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 15, 2000

Washington Redskins center Cory Raymer could miss several weeks after spraining two right knee ligaments yesterday in practice.

Raymer underwent an MRI last night at Arlington Hospital that will determine how long he will be sidelined. Coach Norv Turner said Raymer won't play against the Cleveland Browns on Saturday and worried the six-year veteran could miss the season-opener against Carolina on Sept. 3.

"I'm hoping it's not serious in terms of long term," Turner said. "When you start thinking long term it could be the Carolina game. It could be six weeks."

Raymer injured his anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments during a pileup when guard Jay Leeuwenburg was knocked on top of him. Raymer remained on the ground for several minutes before he was helped to a golf cart with only a few minutes remaining in the afternoon practice.

"Anytime you get hurt like that it's more scary than anything else," said Raymer, who said it sounded like he cracked his knuckles. "It freaks you out. You see it happen to other people and hope it doesn't happen to you. When it does you're just hoping you'll be all right. It takes a little bit to get your heart beating back to normal."

Raymer's 37 straight starts were the most among offensive linemen. However, Raymer has been sidelined three times by injuries. Four days after reporting following a brief holdout in 1995, Raymer broke his ankle, which cost him the first 10 games of his rookie season, although he started two games that year. Raymer started the first five games in 1996 before missing three games with a sprained knee. However, he suffered season-ending knee and back injuries in a car accident after playing one game. Raymer then lost his job to Jeff Uhlenhake in 1997 before Uhlenhake's knee injury forced Raymer to start the final three games. He hasn't miss a game since.

"Continuity is so critical on the offensive line," Turner said. "We went three or four years where it seemed three guys were starting new positions. One of our strengths last year was that group stayed together."

Raymer was optimistic about a speedy recovery, though. He walked out of Redskin Park to a truck waiting to take Raymer to the hospital.

"If it goes by how it feels I'll be at practice [today]," he said. "It's one of those stupid things. Hopefully, it will be all right."

Center Mark Fischer replaces Raymer. The 1998 fifth-round pick missed his rookie season with a broken leg and played on special teams for six games last year. Leeuwenburg is the backup center.

"I'm probably as ready as I've ever been," Fischer said. "This is the time [of year] that I'm in peak playing condition. As as backup, you get a little rustier as the season goes."

Meanwhile, kicker Brett Conway practiced for the first time since he was sidelined two weeks with a strained thigh. Conway kicked extra points and short field goals. He could play against Cleveland, though Peter Elezovic will handle long field goals and Clay Rush will kick off.

"I can still feel it. I'm just taking it slow and getting it stronger," Conway said. "The biggest problem would be to come back and go as hard as I was before."

Conway said he doesn't feel threatened by Elezovic, who has converted all five of his field goals, or Rush, whose kickoffs regularly have reached the end zone. Turner remains committed to Conway.

"I still consider it my job. They do, too. I just have to get healthy," Conway said.

Cornerback Tim Denton (sprained toe), cornerback David Terrell (sore hamstring) and receiver Derrius Thompson (sprained thumb) suffered minor injuries. Fullback Mike Sellers (bruised shin), safety Josh Symonette, defensive end Nolan Harrison (sprained knee) and cornerback Lloyd Harrison (sprained ankle) didn't practice.

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