Washington Redskins cornerback Fred Smoot may remain Darrell Green’s backup against the Denver Broncos on Sunday then again, he may not.
Smoot apparently has recovered from a bruised leg, but coach Marty Schottenheimer wavered on Smoot’s status yesterday. First Schottenheimer said Smoot would start if healthy, then he countered that, saying the decision would depend on which player gave the Redskins a better matchup against the Broncos. Finally, Schottenheimer said he wouldn’t make a decision between Smoot and Green until Sunday.
“I just want to make sure before we reinsert Fred that he’s 100 percent,” Schottenheimer said. “Health is a factor because as long as Fred is less than 100 percent clearly we’ll start Darrell.”
Smoot played nearly 65 percent of the defensive snaps during the 27-14 victory over Seattle on Nov. 4 after missing two games with a bruised leg. The rookie played unevenly against the Seahawks but said he’s ready to start after the team’s open date Sunday left him rested. Smoot played more than Green during practice, but Schottenheimer dismissed it as Green needing less work.
“I can pick up where I left off,” Smoot said. “I’m ready to go.”
Meanwhile, tight end Stephen Alexander and linebacker LaVar Arrington are both about “50-50” against the Broncos with ankle sprains.
Alexander participated in conditioning drills as the team worked for the first time since Friday. Alexander may practice by week’s end after missing three games. Still, his ankle remains sore.
“[The coaches] deal is they don’t want to hear it. They want to see it,” Alexander said.
Schottenheimer concurred, saying, “Until you put him in the team environment where the tempo picks up and see him plant and cut, it’s premature he will be available.”
Arrington’s return from a high ankle sprain after two weeks would be impressive; many players miss at least three. Arrington is the most questionable of the trio after being injured in the Seattle game. Schottenheimer said Arrington wouldn’t play as a reserve with Antonio Pierce the probable starter.
“I don’t know how it will play out, but I’ll stay confident,” Arrington said. “I don’t think it would be fair to who’s playing the position all week to come in and start [without practicing]. If it’s going to hurt the team, I’m not [playing].”
The air up there
The Redskins won’t adjust their practice schedule to include more aerobic conditioning even though the game will be played more than 5,200 feet above sea level. The thinner air weakens some players, but oxygen is available on the sidelines.
The Redskins travel to Denver on Saturday. Typically, altitude sickness isn’t bothersome until the second day, so teams either arrive one day earlier or four days earlier to avoid symptoms.
“It takes a little while to get used to, but after the first quarter you get acclimated to the climate,” Alexander said. “It’s tough, but not a big deal.”
Schottenheimer took the Cleveland Browns to Flagstaff, Ariz., four days before the 1987 AFC Championship game loss at Denver to acclimate at 7,000 feet. Still, Schottenheimer dismissed altitude as a home-field edge for Denver.
“I don’t think the altitude has had anything to do with the Broncos’ success,” he said.