- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 3, 2000

Washington Redskins guard Tre Johnson is expected to miss the rest of the season after becoming the team's fourth player to suffer a major knee injury.
The Redskins will wait two weeks before deciding whether to place Johnson on injured reserve, but coach Norv Turner yesterday said Johnson will need surgery for a torn left medial collateral ligament. While Johnson's torn MCL might only cost him six weeks, team officials are more concerned with the partially torn anterior cruciate ligament. Johnson needs two weeks of rehabilitation to reduce swelling for a better MRI review, but Turner was pessimistic about Johnson's return. Each injury could force surgery.
"My gut feeling, my instincts, tell me he'll end up having surgery and be out for the year," Turner said.
The Redskins will sign former New England Patriots guard Derrick Fletcher, who was released Sept. 17 after playing the first two games. The 1999 fifth-rounder was cut because of poor play and weight problems, according to Patriots sources. He has spent the last two weeks on New Orleans' practice squad. Fletcher will earn $206,250 over the rest of the season, leaving the Redskins about $500,000 under the salary cap.
Fletcher replaces center Cory Raymer, who was placed on injured reserve Thursday after undergoing knee surgery. The team will have another roster opening once Johnson is placed on injured reserve, but team officials aren't committed to signing another offensive lineman.
Johnson joins running back Gerard Arnold, receiver Michael Westbrook and Raymer, also sidelined with season-ending knee injuries, while kicker Brett Conway is out with a thigh injury. Johnson hobbled off the field during the second series of the 20-17 overtime victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday after being hit from behind. Johnson was unsure of the injury's extent.
"It's frustrating. You have to live with it, not cry with it," Johnson said. "All I can do is what I can do."
The Redskins are now extremely thin at guard. While Jay Leeuwenburg replaces Johnson, left guard Keith Sims needs to rest the sore left Achilles' tendon that has limited him the past three weeks. Offensive tackle Andy Heck would replace Sims if the latter's injury worsens Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles at Veterans Stadium, where the artificial surface is renowned as the NFL's worst field. Rookie guard Mookie Moore will be activated for the first time this season, and Fletcher should be available.
Still, Turner conceded Sims will need a two-week rest soon or risk missing several games. Sims admitted the injury limited him against Tampa Bay.
"It's very difficult to do what he's doing," Turner said. "Keith would tell you that's not him out there. He did not have the type of game he's capable of having. He's not moving the way he's capable of moving. I don't think we can go a real long time."
Leeuwenburg, 31, is a nine-year veteran signed in June. He started 96 of 121 games in Chicago (1992-95), Indianapolis (1996-98) and Cincinnati (1999) and can play center and deep snap. Leeuwenburg replaced Johnson in the season-opener while the latter served a one-game suspension.
"I pride myself on, if I'm given the opportunity, we won't drop off," said Leeuwenburg, who has a sore ankle and knee. "Hopefully, I can bring some things that will improve the team."
Turner denied the Redskins will scale back the offense after losing Johnson, who was the team's only Pro Bowl lineman last year. Still, running back Stephen Davis' favorite lane last year during his team-record 1,405 yards was between Johnson and Raymer, who are both gone.
"We haven't gotten into the kind of rhythm we were in during the middle of the year last year," Turner said. "I think we're making a lot of plays to give us a chance, but we can get a lot better on offense… . I thought [quarterback] Brad Johnson did a great job of handling the pressure [against Tampa Bay]. We didn't protect the quarterback as well as we normally do, and we had more breakdowns in the running game than we normally would have. We have some real work to do with our interior line."

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