- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 21, 1999

The Washington Redskins might have to try to clinch their first playoff berth in seven years Sunday night at San Francisco without Stephen Davis.
The NFL’s rushing leader, who sprained his left ankle during the second quarter of Sunday’s 24-21 loss at Indianapolis, was better yesterday, but his status for the 49ers is iffy at best.
“My guess is it’s a long shot, but I wouldn’t rule it out,” coach Norv Turner said. “We’ll know a lot better in a couple of days. Stephen is a pretty quick healer and a very mentally tough guy. We could wait until Sunday [to decide whether he plays].”
Trainer Bubba Tyer is officially listing Davis as day-to-day. The MRI of Davis’ ankle yesterday showed that the chip fracture Tyer suspected in Indianapolis was an old injury.
Davis limped around the visitors locker room in the RCA Dome and still favored the ankle yesterday morning at Redskin Park, but he was somewhat improved by the afternoon. However, Davis quickly downgraded his prediction that he was “very” optimistic that he would face the 49ers.
“I feel I could possibly play this week,” said Davis, who caught his foot in the artificial turf on a 4-yard run to the Colts 9-yard line. He finished with 70 yards on 14 carries in less than 28 minutes.
“My ankle feels a whole lot better than it felt yesterday. But who’s to say? It might feel worse tomorrow. I’m going to try to get a lot of [treatment] the rest of today and tomorrow to try and get it better. I feel I could possibly play this week. [But] later on in the week if I can’t run on it, I probably won’t play.”
If Davis can’t play, Turner will start the faster but less physical Skip Hicks. Hicks ran 11 times for 39 yards against the Colts but was stopped twice on third-and-short. Brian Mitchell will remain the third-down back.
“Skip had some good runs,” Turner said. “On the third-and-1, as Skip comes around a complete blind spot, the safety [Jason Belser] is sitting right there. That was a real difficult situation. The sweep [on third-and-3] is a very good play for Skip, but that’s one [call] I would like to have back.”
Although Hicks isn’t the same type of back as Davis, Turner said he doesn’t expect the offense to change much if the runner does. Hicks started five games as a rookie in 1998 and scored eight touchdowns while gaining 433 yards on 122 carries. Hicks is averaging 3.6 yards on 43 carries this season, compared to Davis’ 4.8 on 290.
“We’ve got to pick and choose the things that Skip does best and tie them into what our line’s doing well,” Turner said.
That line should be back to its usual quintet for the 49ers. Keith Sims is expected to reclaim the left guard spot from Brad Badger after missing the past two games with a sprained right knee.
“I’m going to prepare as if I’m the starter,” Hicks said. “You never know about ankle sprains. One day you might not be able to walk on it. The next day it’s 100 percent.
“I’m more of a speed guy. Stephen’s more of a power guy. But it’s up to me to adjust to the line. I’ve got to run off their blocks, find the holes and slam it up there. We have a great line. I just have to do my job. They’re expecting me to come in and pick up the slack. If they open the holes, they expect me to run through them. I should be able to get right in there and keep on pounding.”

Fryar loves Indy
With two catches at Indianapolis, Washington’s Irving Fryar has caught 74 passes against the Colts, more than all but four other receivers. Fryar, who also faced Indianapolis while with New England, Miami and Philadelphia, joined Hall of Famer Hugh McElhenny, Webster Slaughter, Keith Byars and Quinn Early as the only players to catch passes against the Colts for four teams. Fryar’s 23 receiving yards at the RCA Dome moved him past Hall of Famer Charlie Joiner and into seventh place in NFL history with 12,147.

Health watch
The only names Tyer added to the injury report were guard Tre Johnson, with tendinitis in his Achilles’, and nickel cornerback Mark McMillian, who has bruised ribs. They’re expected to play against the 49ers along with defensive ends Marco Coleman (ankle) and Ndukwe Kalu (foot), receiver Albert Connell (shoulder), linebacker Greg Jones (thumb), tight end James Jenkins (wrist) and Badger (ankle).

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