Washington’s most important left ankle was better but not 100 percent Thursday. It belongs to halfback Stephen Davis, whom the Redskins could certainly use back on the field for tomorrow’s playoff game against the Detroit Lions at FedEx Field.
During the brief part of practice that the media was allowed to watch, Davis walked gingerly after running his first pass pattern, took off his helmet and grimaced in pain. But he, trainer Bubba Tyer and coach Norv Turner are optimistic that Davis will play this week for the first time since spraining the ankle in the second quarter of a 24-21 loss at Indianapolis on Dec. 19.
“It’s a whole lot better,” said Davis, who led the NFC with 1,405 rushing yards despite missing the final 2 and 1/2 games. “Early in practice, it was kind of tight, but once I got it loosened up it felt pretty good. I did a lot more stuff than yesterday [his first practice since the injury], but I’m just trying to ease into it. I’m very tired of eating sunflower seeds [while standing on the sideline]. I’m very excited to get back out there. I’m going to do everything I can to get myself prepared.”
Turner is prepared not to have Davis for the entire game.
“Stephen made it through the entire practice,” Turner said. “We’re making progress. We’ll see where he is Saturday. I believe he’ll be able to start. How long [can he play]? He’s awfully mentally tough.”
Turner noted that backup halfback Skip Hicks is 5-2 as a starter the past two seasons but added, “Skip has been a good runner, but he’s not as consistent as Stephen.”
Hicks averaged 3.3 yards per carry to Davis’ 4.8.
Pro Bowl guard Tre Johnson (thigh) and strong side linebacker Greg Jones (back) joined Davis in stepping up their workloads while right defensive end Anthony Cook (flu) returned to practice. Backup safety Darryl Pounds (back) took some work after sitting out on Wednesday. However, Darrell Green didn’t step on the field for a second straight day. The seven-time Pro Bowl cornerback is still battling bronchitis.
“I’m not concerned about Darrell being ready to play,” Turner said of Green, who hasn’t missed a start since the second-round playoff game at San Francisco seven years ago. “He watched some film. He took some tape home with him. He’s going to practice tomorrow. We could have to spot [nickel corner] Mark McMillian for him.”
Smelling a rat
“I’ll get him back,” Sellers said. “It’s not over yet. What makes you laugh, makes you cry.”
Said Conway: “He ran like a little girl. One down, two to go.”
Center Cory Raymer and offensive tackle Jon Jansen, who are co-conspirators with Sellers, are awaiting Conway’s next move.
“It gets your mind thinking,” Raymer said. “It was funny watching Mike open that thing up.[
And a backup shall lead them
The Cowboys lost a second-round game at Carolina in 1996. The New York Giants lost a first-round game at home to Minnesota in 1997. And the Cardinals lost their second-round visit to the Vikings last year. All five other divisions won interdivisional playoff games in 1998.
Staff writer Rick Snider contributed to this report.