- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 14, 2001

Marty Schottenheimer acknowledged yesterday that he is looking to sign a free agent quarterback. The Washington Redskins coach said he is worried about injuries to his top two passers, particularly in a short week of preparation for Friday's second preseason game.

With starter Jeff George already sidelined by shoulder tendinitis, young backup Todd Husak played through a strained rib cage muscle in Sunday's 20-0 loss at the Kansas City Chiefs. Husak completed just three of 10 passes for 27 yards with an interception, doing little to convince coaches that he, at 23, is ready to be the team's backup.

But questions about Husak's qualifications apparently have been pre-empted by his injury, which was revealed after Sunday's game and apparently was suffered beforehand.

"At this point, I'm a little concerned, quite frankly, about this injury that he's got," Schottenheimer said in a conference call with reporters. "We're not going to know much until tomorrow."

That's when coaches will begin to determine how much Husak will practice this week and whether he'll be available Friday against the Atlanta Falcons. Before the home exhibition there are just four practices one this afternoon, two tomorrow and one Thursday morning.

George probably won't practice until next week or play until the third preseason game, Aug. 24 against the Cleveland Browns. Schottenheimer said George might do some light tossing on the side over the next few days, adding that the staff still believes the injury is short term.

"I don't think it will linger," Schottenheimer said. "Now I'm not a doctor. But I think it will be resolved with rest. But with Jeff on the shelf and now Todd, I think it's expedient to go get another quarterback."

But there isn't much left on the market, not with passers like Steve Beuerlein, Gus Frerotte and Jon Kitna signing free agent deals earlier this summer and remaining names like Trent Dilfer and Mark Rypien being picked up in recent weeks.

The top options at this point appear to be John Friesz, who passed for 1,266 yards for the Redskins in 1994, and Stoney Case, a former Baltimore Raven who spent last season with the Detroit Lions. Former New York Giant and Falcon Danny Kanell also remains unemployed, currently playing minor league baseball.

In addition, there are several backups who might be pried from their clubs with a trade such as Chicago's Cade McNown and Cincinnati's Akili Smith but Schottenheimer characterized that as highly unlikely.

Meanwhile, the Redskins will not resume talks with free agent safeties. Second-year player David Terrell missed several tackles Sunday but "appeared to me to become more confident as the game progressed," Schottenheimer said. The club has been in contact with veterans Keith Lyle and Darren Perry about jobs if Terrell cannot win the spot.

Husak's injury was one of two of significance from Sunday's game, the other being a broken thumb to defensive tackle Delbert Cowsette. Cowsette, competing for time as a backup, likely must begin wearing a cast, Schottenheimer said.

Among other injuries, tight end Stephen Alexander (hamstring) is ready to work back into practices after traveling with the team to Kansas City. But defensive ends Bruce Smith (shoulder) and Marco Coleman (back), both of whom were injured in Thursday's morning session and neither of whom traveled to Kansas City, should see at best limited practice time.

With regard to Husak's play, Schottenheimer reiterated that the offensive woes involving just 99 total yards were attributable to the whole unit, not just the quarterback. Specifically Washington appeared to lose the battle at the line on both sides of the ball. On offense that kept the Redskins from getting into any sort of a rhythm.

"The longer [Husak] was in the game, particularly after he suffered that hard hit [early in the second quarter], it became difficult for him," Schottenheimer said. "Todd was not pleased, and obviously we're not satisfied, but there were positives. It always looks like it's the quarterback, but often it's the product of a lot of guys not doing their jobs."

The game's biggest disappointment, Schottenheimer said, was several "players who we're counting on who didn't know what they were doing."

Those players weren't named, but it's easy to assume that they included offensive tackles Chris Samuels and Jon Jansen, who are considered two of the league's best. Samuels allowed Husak to be sacked on the Redskins' first third down, and Jansen committed an offsides infraction that doomed the second series.

Schottenheimer did not comment on the Redskins' poor special teams play, saying he had not gotten a chance to review that aspect of the game. Washington, coming off a season in which poor special teams helped do in a talented roster, surrendered a 92-yard punt return touchdown and committed several other miscues in the kicking game.

Not all Sunday's news was bad. Rookie cornerback Fred Smoot, in particular, made several nice plays. Schottenheimer liked the way Smoot responded when challenged. The coach also mentioned the efforts of receiver Darnerien McCants, running backs Kenny Watson and Stephen Davis, linebacker Shawn Barber, defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson, cornerback Champ Bailey and safety Sam Shade.

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