- The Washington Times - Monday, December 18, 2000

Washington Redskins coach Terry Robiskie doesn't plan to play reserves against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday as an early look ahead to next year.

Quarterback Brad Johnson will start if quarterback Jeff George can't play with a strained back. George is considered questionable, but was walking yesterday. Even if the Cardinals game proves lopsided, rookie quarterback Todd Husak won't get a late chance.

"If Jeff is unable to go, Brad gives us the best chance to win the game," Robiskie said. "We're still trying to win to show we're capable of winning. If winning a game against Arizona helps me to say 'This is where I want to be head coach' then I'll do all I can to win the game. I'm not sure Todd gives us the best chance."

Robiskie is 0-2 as the interim coach and hopes he can retain the job with a victory. That's why he's not willing to risk trying rookie guard Mookie Moore and receiver Derrius Thompson despite injuries or poor production at their positions.

But the receiving corps has problems. Andre Reed is out with a strained hamstring and that could force cornerback Champ Bailey to also play receiver. Albert Connell remains on the bench after he caught just one pass for 17 yards against Pittsburgh and also committed a turnover when he didn't protect a pass.

James Thrash will start over Connell despite a bruised hip that forced him out briefly against Pittsburgh. However, Thrash won't return kickoffs or punts.

"James Thrash has been pretty much dead every week," Robiskie said. "I think he was on the verge of a dislocated hip and played."

The 24-3 loss to Pittsburgh was first time since a 24-3 loss to Kansas City on Nov. 5, 1995 that Washington didn't score a touchdown in a game. The offensive woes are the result of an ineffective rushing attack. The Redskins have averaged just 54 yards rushing during the four-game losing streak. Washington averaged 126.6 yards as it went 7-4 in its first 11 games. Robiskie denied that a fractured forearm caused running back Stephen Davis to fumble for the second time in two weeks. However, Davis gained only 135 yards rushing in the last three games.

Robiskie didn't even address special teams problems. Steelers punt returner Hank Poteat scored on a 53-yarder for a 10-3 lead that Pittsburgh never surrendered on Saturday. That was the third time this season that the Redskins allowed a kick to be returned for a score. From 1995 through 1999 the Redskins allowed only three touchdown returns.

Defensively, the Redskins may miss end Ndwuke Kalu (sprained knee) and cornerback Deion Sanders. Kalu is considered day-to-day while Sanders' status is uncertain because he didn't seek treatment yesterday. Still, the Redskins believe Sanders will play.

Injuries may be carrying over until next season. Guard Keith Sims said he could miss the start of training camp after recent surgery for a ruptured Achilles' tendon. Sims left Redskin Park on crutches, but said he expects to make the regular-season opener in September.

"You don't want to be too aggressive because I don't want it to snap again," Sims said. "I plan on playing a couple years. I don't want to go out in a [32-13] loss to the Cowboys."

Meanwhile the Quarterback Club's Redskin of the Year will be announced tomorrow. Defensive ends Bruce Smith and Marco Coleman, Bailey and Davis are the finalists. The announcement will be shown live on WUSA (Ch. 9) at 7:30 p.m.

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