- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 15, 2001

CARLISLE, Pa. The preseason is all but gone and the regular-season opener is in jeopardy for Washington Redskins defensive end Bruce Smith. The future Hall of Famer expects to miss two to six weeks following the latest round of tests on his bruised shoulder.
Smith, 38, already missed the preseason opener, Sunday's 20-0 loss at the Kansas City Chiefs. The starting right end was one of seven Redskins who did not make the trip to that game.
Smith, an 11-time Pro Bowl selection, hopes to participate in at least the final exhibition game, Aug. 30 at the New England Patriots.
"I'd like to try to play in the last preseason game, but it's all according to Mother Nature," Smith said after watching practice. "It's out of anybody's hands."
Among the other injuries, defensive end Marco Coleman (back) and tight end Stephen Alexander (hamstring) returned to practice, but guard Ben Coleman (knee) remains sidelined and is expected to receive an injection as early as today to relieve the pain.
Marco Coleman and Alexander should play Friday night against the Atlanta Falcons. Coleman strained his back during the same Thursday morning practice in which Smith was injured. Coleman's return to practice was a bit of good news because coach Marty Schottenheimer believed the starting left end would see limited work this week.
"I feel better today than I did yesterday," Marco Coleman said. "I'm still day-to-day. Today was a good day; I made it through today. We'll see how things go tomorrow."
Alexander, coming off his first Pro Bowl, has missed virtually all of training camp after straining a hamstring. But he gradually worked back into condition over the past week, traveled to Kansas City and participated in pre-game warmups.
"Slowly each day [I] progressed a little more, and finally today I felt great out there," Alexander said. "Today was really my first test, when I opened it up a little bit. [My hamstring] passed, as far as I'm concerned."
Schottenheimer remains optimistic that Ben Coleman's knee will heal. Coleman received the largest signing bonus given to a free agent acquired by the Redskins this offseason, $623,000. The bonus was part of a one-year, $1.1 million deal that clearly was intended for an interior starter.
Instead, second-year player Mookie Moore is the first-string right guard. Moore is a physically strong player with potential, but he made several errors in Sunday's loss getting caught out of position at times. He also caused Smith's injury Thursday when he rammed Smith's shoulder with his head.
An MRI has revealed no structural problems with Ben Coleman's knee. It showed only "a roughening," according to Schottenheimer.
Smith, before the latest tests, thought he might have torn his rotator cuff, an injury he suffered in the past. Instead, the tests revealed that his shoulder and his collarbone are bruised. Although less serious, he calls the maladies "pretty painful." On the positive side, the swelling has subsided and the pain has become localized.
Smith, a 17-year veteran, is not worried about getting ready for the regular season, assuming he rehabilitates quickly enough to play in the Sept. 9 opener at the San Diego Chargers. He said he has started a season in the past without participating in any preseason games.
"I would like to get some work in before the season starts, and I will be able to get some type of work in, even if comes down to the week prior to the [last] preseason game," Smith said. "It's just a matter of having a limited or a not-full-contact type of practice."
Notes Rookie defensive lineman Terry Bryant, sidelined virtually all of camp with a rib injury, has left the team for personal reasons. Schottenheimer said the club came to an injury settlement with Bryant… . Rookie cornerback Fred Smoot earned an opportunity to cover the Falcons' starting receivers Friday after his promising debut against the Chiefs. Said Schottenheimer: "He'll get beat [Friday], but everybody gets beat."

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