- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 6, 2003

After Thursday night’s season-opening victory, the question was bound to be asked of Washington Redskins coach Steve Spurrier.

Did Ladell Betts show enough in the 16-13 victory over the New York Jets to merit his starting at running back over Trung Canidate next week at Atlanta?

Sure enough, Spurrier fielded the question early in his day-after news conference yesterday. The Ball Coach talked his way around the subject.

“I don’t think [Betts is] worried about that,” Spurrier said. “And really, [offensive coordinator] Hue [Jackson], I’ll let him make that call, who starts. Basically, we’re trying to get both of them involved a lot.”

The Redskins managed to do just that Thursday night. Canidate, the high-profile acquisition from St. Louis, started and had his moments en route to a 10-carry, 46-yard evening. But Betts, last year’s second-round draft pick, carried 18 times for 77 yards, ran with greater authority and seemed to inject more life into Washington’s offense than Canidate.

The increased workload came as a surprise to Betts, who missed most of the preseason with a sprained elbow.

“I knew I was going to get some touches, but not that many,” he said.

Spurrier might have played coy when asked about his running back plan for next week’s game. But there appears to be a good chance the Redskins will continue to split rushing attempts between Canidate and Betts all season, with a sprinkling of Chad Morton here and there.

“I don’t know if we have an exact plan,” Spurrier said. “Certainly, if one back seems to be running a little better than the other, he will probably get more carries. … They’ll both continue playing.”

Betts seems fine with a tailback-by-committee plan.

“I think we help each other out,” he said. “We have different styles. It keeps the defense off balance. They can’t really prepare for either one. It actually helps us both.”

Haley, Flemister OK

Defensive tackle Jermaine Haley and tight end Zeron Flemister were injured Thursday night, but neither is expected to miss next week’s game.

Haley broke his right thumb in the first half and returned to play briefly before being escorted to the locker room late in the third quarter. In the process, he also aggravated an old injury to the same hand.

“I had a pin placed in there before, and it’s a little rattled,” Haley said. “We’re just going to watch it and see what happens.”

Haley hopes to practice and play next week with a cast on his right hand.

Flemister, meanwhile, strained his left Achilles’ tendon in the second quarter and went in for X-rays late in the game. He was walking around Redskin Park in a boot yesterday.

“It was on a special teams play — I was pushing on a guy and kind of tweaked it a little,” said Flemister, who had a key third-down catch on the game’s first drive. “It’s nothing real serious. I didn’t tear anything. I should be ready next week.”

Extra points

The Redskins’ decision to wear white jerseys and white pants for the first time in anyone’s memory Thursday night was made by the players, Spurrier said. The coach added that it would not be surprising if the players choose to wear burgundy-on-burgundy for the first time at some point this season. …

Receiver Darnerien McCants sprained his thumb but is expected to practice and play next week. Center Larry Moore left the game for one play because he was dizzy from a hit on the head. Lennie Friedman filled in, and Moore returned on the next play and was deemed fine yesterday.

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