- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 16, 2001

CARLISLE, Pa. Todd Husak practiced yesterday, Jeff George finally tossed a few and Tony Banks flew in for a workout. Suddenly, the Washington Redskins received positive news about their beleaguered quarterback position.

One day after the Redskins announced that third-stringer Sage Rosenfels was expected to start tomorrow night against the Atlanta Falcons, Husak's strained rib muscle improved enough that he might still get the nod. George talked of fully practicing next week. And Banks took a cross-country flight for an expected tryout today.

Husak was the biggest surprise, working regularly in the afternoon session after a moderate morning practice. Whether Husak awakens none the worse today largely will determine if he'll start against Atlanta.

"I'm toughing it out," said Husak, who had his ribs taped and will wear a flak jacket under his pads. "I might wake up and it will kill [me], or it might feel better. I've never been hurt before. I don't like the feeling. I feel like I'm letting my teammates down."

Coach Marty Schottenheimer won't decide Husak's status before tonight, with a decision possibly not coming until game day. Ultimately, Schottenheimer won't let Husak chance aggravating the injury unless he is cleared by the medical staff. Husak then would play at least the opening quarter.

George threw 30 15-yard passes to a stationary receiver with little zip, his first time throwing in 10 days and second in 15. George felt it was a needed step toward returning from shoulder tendinitis as soon as next week. However, team sources said George probably won't play until the preseason finale at New England on Aug. 30.

George said he was pain-free during the easy tosses after experiencing discomfort on Aug. 5. He'll steadily increase distance and intensity over the coming days.

"I think there's a lot of progress," George said. "I'm right on pace for what the doctors said. As far as the pain, I didn't feel anything. Hopefully, Monday or Tuesday I'll be 100 percent and practicing."

However, George won't feel fully recovered until he starts throwing hard. After all, he didn't feel pain until progressing past short throws on Aug. 5.

"That's the ultimate test when I throw deep down the middle and put some zip on it," George said. "I'm going to let it rip in the next few days because I have to see where I'm at. But this was encouraging. I wasn't able to do this a week ago."

Banks flew to Washington from Los Angeles after being released by the Dallas Cowboys on Tuesday. Schottenheimer spoke with Banks' agent, Marvin Demoff, about a deal, though the plan is for Banks to work out before any agreement is reached.

Banks is the front-runner over Danny Kanell, who worked out Tuesday. Banks started for St. Louis (1996-98) and Baltimore (1999-2000). He completed 1,004 of 1,857 passes for 12,047 yards with 61 touchdowns and 58 interceptions. That Washington quarterbacks coach Brian Schottenheimer was a St. Louis assistant in 1997 gives him some familiarity with Banks.

Schottenheimer seems committed to signing Banks or Kanell soon despite the improved health of George and Husak.

"It doesn't make any sense for us to sit around and say they'll be fine," Schottenheimer said. "We're better served finding somebody that in an event there's a problem we've already resolved it."

The Redskins didn't alter their practice schedule despite working Rosenfels and fourth-stringer Mike Watkins with the starters. Watkins especially struggled, throwing three straight interceptions. During one seven-on-seven drill, Redskins quarterbacks threw four interceptions with one batted pass and one overthrown ball in six attempts.

"If you change what you do based on the quarterback, then it has a negative impact on everybody else," Schottenheimer said. "We'll limit to some extent what we do, but we're not going to run the ball a lot because we don't throw it."

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