- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 28, 2000

The Washington Redskins have started 12 different offensive lineups this season. Make it 13 against the New York Giants on Sunday.

Quarterback Brad Johnson and running back Stephen Davis will return from injuries against the Giants at FedEx Field while receiver Albert Connell looks doubtful with a sprained knee.

The struggling offense continues to reinvent itself weekly since losing three starters by September's end. After all, Redskins offensive starters will miss 48 games this season because of injuries compared to just eight last year.

But coach Norv Turner left no wiggle room over Johnson's return after missing three games with a sprained knee. Jeff George completed 69 of 116 for 833 yards with five touchdowns, three interceptions and an 85.2 pass rating during the 1-2 stretch, but Turner fulfilled his pledge that Johnson would play when healthy.

"We can come up with a lot of reasons. No. 1 is he's our starting quarterback," Turner said. "We waited another week to make sure. He moved around well last week. He's ready to go."

Johnson said his knee has steadily improved since being injured against Tennessee on Oct. 30. He returned to practice on Nov. 22, but won't work with the starting offense until tomorrow. Johnson felt he could have played in the 23-20 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday if needed.

Teammates took no sides on the switch because the Redskins (7-5) are more concerned with trying to make the playoffs than who's quarterbacking the team.

"Not in this locker room. We're a very solid team. They're no controversies here," guard Keith Sims said. "We just want to win."

Said receiver Irving Fryar: "Either way, they're both capable. They're both Pro Bowl quarterbacks."

Davis said the hairline fracture in his right forearm continues to improve and should practice later in the week. A late inactive against Philadelphia, Davis said his arm still hurts and expects it to bother him for the rest of the season.

Still, the Redskins desperately need Davis back after rushing for just 44 yards on 19 carries against the Eagles. Washington settled for a field goal to tie the game at 20-20 with 5:42 remaining after failing to score despite six plays from inside the 3-yard line.

"Deep down in my heart, I think the result would have been a little better," Davis said.

Connell didn't catch a pass before leaving midway through the second quarter when blocking downfield. Turner said it would be "hard" for Connell to play against the Giants. The Redskins will start James Thrash and Irving Fryar and promote Derrius Thompson from the practice squad, but Connell's downfield presence will be missed.

That the Redskins have started 19 different offensive players is one of the leading reasons why they're averaging nearly eight points less than last year's 27.6. Still, players admit penalties and turnovers have been more problematic than injuries. The Redskins are averaging seven penalties per game, slightly more than 6.5 last year. Their 22 turnovers are only three less than last year's total.

"We have thinned ourselves out," Johnson said. "Even at that, we still have enough guys to make plays. We just hurt ourselves with either turnovers or penalties or in bad situations with missed assignments."

Meanwhile, the lengthy injury report contained no other serious injuries. Tight end Stephen Alexander (mild sprained left ankle), linebacker LaVar Arrington (concussion, pinched nerve left shoulder), linebacker Shawn Barber (arm laceration), defensive end Marco Coleman (sprained right shoulder), center Mark Fischer (swollen foot), Fryar (pinched nerve right shoulder), cornerback Darrell Green (strained calf), running back Skip Hicks (sore hamstring), tight end James Jenkins (sprained right shoulder), defensive end Kenard Lang (bruised knee), Sims (sore heel) and Thrash (bruised right thigh) will play against New York.

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