- The Washington Times - Monday, August 4, 2003

The Washington Redskins’ most intriguing position battle of training camp appears to be on hold for yet another week.

Coach Steve Spurrier said yesterday running back Ladell Betts “probably will not play” in Saturday’s exhibition opener at Carolina and Kenny Watson’s status also is uncertain.

Betts and Watson, who are competing with newcomer Trung Canidate at running back, have been bothered by lingering injuries during camp. Betts’ severely sprained left elbow has affected the team’s plans.

Betts sat out his sixth straight day of practice yesterday. The team hoped to have him back on the field early this week, but Spurrier isn’t that optimistic.

“He probably will not play in the game this week,” Spurrier said. “Hopefully, the second game he’ll be ready.”

With little attention being given to the running game during camp, the coaching staff plans to make many of its evaluations during the four preseason games. Betts’ likely unavailability this week won’t help his cause, though his performance last year (65 rushes for 307 yards, a 4.7-yard average) was enough of an audition for some within the organization.

“I’m not concerned about Ladell, because he played [last year], and I know what Ladell’s capable of,” offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said. “What I’m concerned about is, once he’s back out there that we can keep him there.”

Betts said he doesn’t feel like he’s losing ground in the running back race yet, but he is eager to return.

“We haven’t played a preseason game yet,” he said. “So I don’t really see it as [being] a step behind. As long as I can get healthy and get back out there, I’ll be fine.”

Watson returned Sunday from a sprained right knee, but Spurrier said his status for the game against the Panthers is uncertain and the team would prepare to go into the weekend with Canidate starting and youngsters Sultan McCullough and Robert Gillespie backing him up.

Asked about his status, Watson said he expects to be in uniform Saturday night.

“I’ll most likely be playing,” he said. “I’ve been testing [my knee] out, and it feels pretty good.”

Chad Morton also will get playing time at tailback mostly in third-and-long situations.

Walls chooses Packers

The Redskins lost out on free agent tight end Wesley Walls, who yesterday signed a one-year deal with the Green Bay Packers for the league minimum of $755,000.

Walls, a 15-year veteran and one of the league’s premier pass-catching tight ends, turned down Washington though NFL sources said the Redskins offered him a multi-year deal.

Despite the larger offer and the possibility of more playing time in Washington, Walls chose Green Bay, sources said, because he wants to play with quarterback Brett Favre. He also feels the Packers have a better chance to make the Super Bowl this season.

Barring any last-minute signings, Zeron Flemister will open the season as Washington’s starting tight end, with veterans Robert Royal, Leonard Stephens and rookie Kevin Ware fighting for backup spots.

Extra points

Wide receiver Cliff Russell sat out both practices yesterday as he attempts to ease his surgically repaired knee back into shape. Fellow receiver Taylor Jacobs missed the afternoon session due to a slight groin pull. He said he expects to be back on the field tomorrow. …

On the defensive side of the ball, end Regan Upshaw, coming back from offseason knee surgery, was not in attendance for the second straight day. Linebacker LaVar Arrington was held out of 11-on-11 drills in both of yesterday’s sessions, but he said defensive coordinator George Edwards was just giving him a rest.

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