The troubled Washington Redskins will be without their most decorated player, Chris Samuels, for at least this Sunday’s game against the visiting Kansas City Chiefs.
Coach Jim Zorn said Monday the six-time Pro Bowl offensive left tackle has been playing with stenosis, a narrowing of the spine. The condition was aggravated by a collision with Carolina defensive end Tyler Brayton on the second play of Sunday’s 20-17 loss. Samuels was helped off the field and didn’t return.
“He got popped; he got some tingling,” Zorn said. “He will not be available to play next week just to quiet this thing down.”
But that doesn’t mean the 32-year-old Samuels will be back against Philadelphia on Oct. 26, the game before Washington has its bye week.
It’s even possible Samuels’ injury could be career-threatening. University of Pittsburgh professor of neurological surgery Joseph Maroon, who also works for the Pittsburgh Steelers, said 1,000 athletes suffer spinal injuries each year and that neurapraxia, sometimes referred to as “concussion of the spine,” can be a career-ending occurrence.
However, the only published record of Samuels having a neck injury came in his rookie year, 2000, when he missed the final three quarters of the season finale. While the 6-foot-5, 314-pound Alabaman has worn a thick neck pad for many years, Zorn said he thought Samuels had been diagnosed with stenosis three or four years ago.
In the postgame locker room, Samuels said he was feeling better. He was unavailable for comment Monday because he was undergoing an MRI.
With Samuels out, Zorn said he likely will move right tackle Stephon Heyer to the left side, with Mike Williams sliding from right guard into his natural right tackle spot. Either Will Montgomery or Chad Rinehart, who started Weeks 3 and 4 after Randy Thomas was lost for the season with a torn right triceps, will man right guard.
Daniels will play on
The offensive line is a mess, but the defensive line has its own injury woes. Left end Phillip Daniels, who played his best game of the season at Carolina, tore his right biceps on the final drive.
However, the 36-year-old Daniels, who missed all of 2008 with two torn knee ligaments and contemplated retirement, plans to keep playing. A powerlifting champion during his spare time, Daniels will wait to have surgery until the offseason.
“I can play with this,” Daniels said. “It’s not like a torn triceps [the injury that ended Samuels’ 2008 season and Thomas’ 2009 season]. The doctor said playing with it won’t do anything [worse] to it. I might lose a little strength, but I’m strong enough. It only limits me doing a couple of things like turning my wrist.”
Cornelius Griffin, who lines up next to Daniels at left tackle, didn’t play at Carolina because of the sprained left elbow he suffered the previous week against Tampa Bay. Griffin is hopeful he’ll be back for Kansas City. Kedric Golston started in his place Sunday and set up the Redskins’ first touchdown by forcing a fumble on the opening play.
Smith could be back
The Redskins are counting on Hunter Smith punting against the Chiefs. On Monday, they cut his replacement, Glenn Pakulak, and re-signed veteran defensive end Renaldo Wynn, whom they waived Saturday to make room for the second punter.
Smith, who was inactive at Carolina with a strained groin after never missing a game during his decade with Indianapolis, said he’s questionable to return.
“I’d say there’s a good chance, but I’d like to hit some balls that are pretty close to full speed before [playing again],” Smith said.
Pakulak averaged (an NFL-adjusted) 42.4 gross yards and 35.6 net in Smith’s place. The league added 30 yards to his gross yardage.
If Smith isn’t recovered by Sunday, the Redskins could go through the Pakulak-Wynn switch again or cut a young player to make room for the fill-in punter.
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