- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 18, 2001

The Washington Redskins continued to miss injured starting quarterback Jeff George badly in last night's 27-6 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Backups Todd Husak and Sage Rosenfels threw costly interceptions as the starting offense remained scoreless after two preseason games.
Husak completed four of six passes for 32 yards, but his interception set up the Falcons' opening field goal for a 3-0 lead. Rosenfels' first pass was intercepted and returned for a 31-yard touchdown and a 17-0 advantage.
Husak played despite a troublesome strained rib muscle that limited his practice during the week. However, with the team obtaining veteran Tony Banks on Thursday, Husak probably needed a good effort to stay ahead of the newcomer as the team's No. 2 quarterback.
Husak mixed his passes well with an 11-yarder to tight end Stephen Alexander on the opening drive and a 12-yarder to receiver Michael Westbrook in the second possession. However, a short pass intended for fullback Donnell Bennett was intercepted by Falcons cornerback Ray Buchanan at the Washington 20 to set up the field goal.
Rosenfels' gaffe came with 1:20 left in the first quarter. Buchanan stepped inside Westbrook at the 31, grabbing his second theft for a 17-0 lead.
George is not expected to play against Cleveland on Friday night after recently missing 10 days with shoulder tendinitis. George started throwing lightly only on Wednesday after resting 10 days. He could return against New England in the preseason finale Aug. 30.
Meanwhile, offensive tackle Chris Samuels left early in the second quarter with a pulled back muscle. Running back Stephen Davis missed the second drive with a sprained toe but returned for the third series to finish with 25 yards on seven carries.

New home colors
The Redskins have switched to burgundy uniforms at home for the first time since 1980. A team official said the switch from white signifies "a new era."
Coach Jack Pardee was the last to use the burgundy jerseys. Joe Gibbs preferred white jerseys after his arrival in 1981 because San Diego, where he had been an assistant, wore white at home.
Some teams prefer home whites so fans can see the colored jerseys of opponents. Also, the white jersey also appears larger to quarterbacks passing downfield.

Brown, Butz back?
Running back Jamaal Dinkins is the first Redskin to wear No. 43 since Larry Brown in 1976. Guard Derrick Fletcher is the first player to wear No. 65 since defensive tackle Dave Butz in 1988.
The Redskins don't retire numbers, but former equipment manager Jay Brunetti kept nine from being reused until his departure earlier this year: Joe Theismann (7), Sonny Jurgensen (9), Sammy Baugh (33), Charley Taylor (42), John Riggins (44), Bobby Mitchell (49), Art Monk (81), plus Brown and Butz.

Salary cap update
The Redskins have a bit less than $1.5 million of salary cap space following Thursday's signing of quarterback Tony Banks to a one-year, $477,000 contract. However, the club doesn't really have any room to sign new players because the current figure will shrink when the season begins.
For example, it does not include roster spots Nos. 52 and 53 (players who will consume just over $400,000 of additional space) or $120,000 for rookie linebacker Jauron Dailey, who is on injured reserve.
Clubs like to enter the season with about $1 million of cap space as an injury fund, because once the season begins each new player counts against the cap without any rebate for the player he replaces. In contrast, only the highest-paid 51 players on each roster count before the start of the season.
Of course, the Redskins could create cap room if they needed to, as they have demonstrated repeatedly this offseason. Some ways to create space, like when wide receiver Michael Westbrook lowered his salary in exchange for a package of incentives, didn't do any damage to future caps.

Still some time
Those clinging to the bottom spots on the NFL's current 80-man rosters have another week to make an impression. The first cuts, from 80 players to 65 (plus NFL Europe exemptions), come Aug. 28. For the Redskins, that is four days after their third preseason game Aug. 24 against the Cleveland Browns.
Final cuts to the 53-man roster come on Sept. 2, a week before most teams open the season.
Washington still has three NFL Europe exemptions: center Ryan Kalich, tackle Terrance Simmons and defensive back Eric Whitfield. Whitfield, however, has a serious shoulder injury, and the club is attempting to reach an injury settlement with him.

Last time
The Falcons were led by current Redskins quarterback Jeff George the last time they played Washington. Atlanta's 27-20 victory came Sept. 25, 1994, at RFK Stadium. George, in his first season with the Falcons, led the rally from a 13-7 halftime deficit.
Playing a key role in Washington's loss was quarterback John Friesz, who had three second-half turnovers. Friesz is unemployed these days, though he is considered by many to be the best available passer. The Redskins bypassed him this week to sign Banks.
George, who currently is sidelined with shoulder tendinitis, threw for 3,734 yards and 23 touchdowns in 1994, then followed that with a career-high 4,143 yards in 1995. But he rarely played in 1996 after getting into a sideline shouting match with Falcons coach June Jones and departed Atlanta for Oakland at season's end.


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