- The Washington Times - Friday, August 10, 2001

CARLISLE, Pa. The Washington Redskins escaped calamity yesterday after both starting defensive ends left practice with injuries. Bruce Smith may miss two weeks with a sprained shoulder, and Marco Coleman could return next week after aggravating his sprained back.

Serious injuries to both a future Hall of Famer (Smith) and a 2000 Pro Bowl player (Coleman) could have wrecked the defense. Smith was injured 35 minutes into the morning session when he was hit by guard Mookie Moore on a trap play. Moore pulled from the right side and hit Smith just below the right shoulder pad with the crown of his helmet. A sharp crack of the pads was heard from the sideline, and Moore was stunned and knocked slightly backward.

"I really didn't think anything was wrong with him," Moore said. "I went to a knee, but Bruce was still standing. If anybody was hurt, I thought it would be me."

Smith pushed Moore away with his left arm, then suddenly grabbed his right arm and dropped to his knees. It would take several minutes to move Smith to a nearby training tent, which he left 10 minutes later with an ice bag taped to his shoulder. Smith walked 200 yards to the locker room, pausing for nearly 30 seconds midway when he doubled over in pain. However, X-rays proved negative, and coach Marty Schottenheimer said Smith wouldn't play until the pain subsided.

Teammates first feared that the 38-year-old Smith had dislocated his shoulder, but defensive tackle Kenard Lang later said jokingly, "Bruce can't dislocate anything. He's too old. He doesn't have any bones."

Coleman aggravated a back that already had caused him to miss three days from soreness caused when he was working on footwork in rope drills.

"Marco probably did a little more than he should have on his own," Schottenheimer said. "You know Marco, you can't slow him down. He always wants to go, go, go."

Said Lang: "I saw the [discomfort] in his face. Your back is the most important thing. If you hurt that, you're done, period."

That the pair didn't suffer long-term injuries bolstered the team's mood by the afternoon session. Many figured that if they return before the season opener at San Diego on Sept. 9, it would be time enough for them to regain their timing with linemates.

"This doesn't go on the win-loss column. As long as [Smith is] back for the last two [preseason games], that's the major thing," Lang said. "As far as chemistry, me and Bruce are still working on it. It won't decimate our progress that much."

Said center Cory Raymer: "You can get hurt doing anything. You can slow down a smidgen, but you can hurt doing that just like going full pads at 100 mph. Right now, bodies are beaten up."

Backup defensive ends Michael Bankston and Derrick Ham will start in Sunday's preseason opener at Kansas City. It's Ham's first career start, but Bankston has never missed a game in his nine-year career.

"Guys are going to miss some time, and you have to have somebody prepared to step up and perform," Schottenheimer said. "Maybe not at the same level as the other guy but in a winning fashion."

Ham was inactive for 15 games last year before playing in the Redskins' finale against Arizona.

"It's hard to mimic what Bruce does on the field," Ham said. "All you can do is watch him and try to do what you can do with your abilities."

Meanwhile, Raymer practiced after missing one day with a sore right knee. He missed last season with a torn ligament in the same knee but has been a regular during training camp.

* Staff writer Jody Foldesy contributed to this report.

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