- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 1, 2000

An injury to Washington Redskins quarterback Brad Johnson may allow talented backup Jeff George to make his first start Sunday at the Arizona Cardinals.

Johnson will miss at least one day of practice this week after suffering a second-degree left knee sprain in Monday night's 27-21 loss to the Tennessee Titans. George will take first-string snaps in Johnson's place.

Johnson underwent an MRI yesterday and will be evaluated daily. Coach Norv Turner expects Johnson to play, but trainer Bubba Tyer was more guarded.

"I'm concerned to some degree," Tyer said. "I guess if you were [asking] what I would say today, he might be questionable. We'll see how he does later in the week, how he functions."

Said Turner: "I would think he would practice Thursday… . He's walking fine, there's no swelling. I think he will be fine."

Johnson's injury occurred on the Redskins' final touchdown drive of the game. He was hit as he completed a pass to tight end Stephen Alexander. Johnson did not leave at that point or any other despite facing some of the season's fiercest pressure. He was sacked three times and leveled many others.

The hits on Johnson included a helmet-to-helmet one by Titans cornerback Denard Walker on Washington's opening drive. The play may be reviewed by the league for being improper. Redskins free safety Mark Carrier served a one-game suspension for a helmet-to-helmet hit in the opener, while strong safety Sam Shade paid a $7,500 fine for one the following week.

According to Turner and Tyer, no one on the sideline including Johnson thought much of the hit.

"I didn't get as good a look at it as [the public] did, and Brad didn't say anything about it," Turner said. "I don't think it was something that was a factor in the game."

George, the NFL's third-rated passer in 1999, signed a four-year, $18.25 million contract this offseason to back up Johnson, the league's fifth-rated passer in 1999 and the NFC's No. 5 quarterback this season.

There was a public outcry to start George after the Redskins began 1-2 and Johnson struggled to complete deep passes. But Johnson guided Washington to five straight victories with plenty of long completions prior to Monday's defeat.

Johnson underwent arthroscopic surgery on the currently injured knee in the summer of 1999, after being traded by the Minnesota Vikings. The surgery caused him to miss some time in summer practices but he returned to play a full 16-game season for the first time in his career.

The Redskins were treating a variety of other injuries yesterday, including the sprained rib cartilage of wide receiver Irving Fryar. X-rays were negative for Fryar, who was playing his first game since he suffered a frightening bruised neck nerve Oct. 8 at the Philadelphia Eagles. Tyer expects Fryar to play Sunday but with pain.

Starting receivers Albert Connell (bruised shoulder/knee) and James Thrash (bruised thigh) also were injured Monday. Each should play but is considered day-to-day. Their injuries had cornerbacks Champ Bailey and Deion Sanders playing wide-out in fact, at the same time in the fourth quarter.

First-year wide receiver Derrius Thompson is likely to be active available to play Sunday.

Left guard Keith Sims was walking without his boot and called his Achilles' tendinitis "better than in previous weeks." It is not clear, though, when Sims will begin practicing this week. An earlier plan had him missing Sunday's game at Arizona, but no decision has been made.

Weakside linebacker Shawn Barber (first-degree knee sprain) and third cornerback Darrell Green (strained calf), who both missed Monday's game, will be evaluated day-to-day to return to practice.

Green's injury ensures that Sanders will be no more than a situational punt returner for the time being, even though Thrash has been too conservative in his decision-making and Turner is concerned about the amount of pounding the wide receiver is taking.

Also ailing are linebacker LaVar Arrington (shoulder burner), Bailey (sprained thumb), Carrier (shoulder burner) and defensive end Marco Coleman (mild shoulder sprain). All should play.

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