- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 16, 2000

Washington Redskins linebacker Shawn Barber didn't want to miss a game, much less a month with a sprained knee. He finally will return against the St. Louis Rams on Monday wondering why it took so long to recover.
"It's like I had a midseason offseason," Barber said. "Four weeks off? I come to play football, not watch. I thought I was back a long time ago, but you have to pass so many running tests and get approval from trainers. I'm ready. If it were up to me I would have played the next day. I'm real eager to get back on the field."
The Redskins desperately need Barber to return against the Rams' four-receiver offense. Washington must counter short slants with its linebackers, and Barber has a knack for making big plays as a nickel back. While backup Eddie Mason played credibly during Barber's absence, he's better suited against the run. The Redskins figure to forgo run defense and send their linemen after Rams quarterback Trent Green and let the linebackers worry about short-yardage plays.
"Just getting Barber's athleticism back on the field [is a plus]," coach Norv Turner said. "He made a catch [in practice yesterday] for an interception that I don't think many guys would make. One or two plays like that in a game could make the difference."
Overshadowed by first-rounder LaVar Arrington, Barber was the Redskins' best linebacker over the season's first half before he was injured during the first quarter against Jacksonville on Oct. 22. Barber's 40 tackles and two sacks were among the defensive leaders after a standout 1999 season.
But Barber's sprained knee was worse than first expected. He couldn't change direction quickly in practice, so the Redskins decided to rest Barber until Monday, when every able body will be needed to counter the NFL's No. 1 offense. He will wear a brace to prevent a relapse, though. Both Barber and Arrington will chase receivers out of the backfield, but Arrington will probably blitz often, too.
"Players feel comfortable when he's out there," linebackers coach Foge Fazio said. "He's bringing his little bit of experience and air of confidence and speed."
Barber is one of only four Washington defensive players who faced Green during practices in 1998, when Green was the quarterback for the Redskins. He conceded there are tradeoffs to knowing the other's tendencies.
Cornerback Darrell Green will also return after missing three games with a strained calf. Green practiced for the first time after running last week. Turner said it would be a gameday decision, but he expects Green to play extensively against the Rams. Green is expected to be upgraded from questionable when injury reports are updated tomorrow.
Quarterback Brad Johnson, however, may not return to face the Philadelphia Eagles on Nov. 26. Johnson has missed one game since suffering a sprained knee against Tennessee on Oct. 30. Turner said Johnson needed to be 100 percent by Nov. 22 to return against the Eagles, which is doubtful since he isn't yet running. The Redskins expected Johnson to miss 2-4 weeks that would extend against Philadelphia.
"Next week we'll look at it, and if Brad's 100 percent and able to practice on Wednesday, then there's a chance he could play that week," Turner said.
Guard Keith Sims practiced during the midweek for the first time since injuring his left heel against Detroit on Sept. 10. Sims has missed only one game but has practiced little. Having Sunday off for the annual bye greatly improved Sims' tendinitis.
Meanwhile, offensive tackle Chris Samuels already knows the score Redskins 28, Rams 14 after playing a simulated game on his PlayStation 2.
"The Redskins beat them. I looked pretty good," he said. "I looked for my picture, and they only showed my number."

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