- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 27, 2001

The Washington Redskins will regain three injured players against the New York Giants tomorrow but lose another to surgery.

Linebacker Antonio Pierce will start after missing one game with a strained groin, while defensive ends Marco Coleman and Bruce Smith also return after missing four and two games, respectively. The trio practiced yesterday to dispel any lingering doubts by coach Marty Schottenheimer.

However, defensive end Dorian Boose will be sidelined for at least two games after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery Thursday. Cornerback Fred Smoot will miss his second straight game with a bruised leg.

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The defensive shuffling is an overall plus because the Redskins will have their starting defensive line for the first time since the Green Bay game on Sept. 24 to bolster a missing pass rush. However, losing Boose following the release of defensive tackle/end Tyrone Williams on Tuesday leaves the Redskins thin at backup end. Defensive tackle Kenard Lang also will play end while spelling Coleman or Smith, with tackles Jerry DeLoach and Del Cowsette playing and end Otis Leverette also being used.

Pierce should help contain Giants running back Tiki Barber on the latter's trademark outside runs. The Redskins considered moving backup middle linebacker Robert Jones outside, but Pierce greatly improved after leaving early in the 17-14 victory over Carolina last Sunday. Pierce said he struggled with the painful injury for three weeks before deciding it had affected his play too greatly against the Panthers.

"It was a horrible feeling," Pierce said. "I felt it from the first play. It comes to the point where you have to be smart."

Smoot said he was surprised to miss two games with the badly bruised leg that briefly forced him onto crutches. Smoot expects to play against Seattle on Nov. 4.

"My bone was still bleeding to keep it swollen, but I had it drained [Thursday]," Smoot said.

Losing Smoot hurts the Redskins in nickel coverage. While cornerback Darrell Green can handle Smoot's duties in normal coverages, rookie cornerback Central McClellion is vulnerable as the third back instead of Green. Carolina regularly picked on McClellion, and New York should feature three-receiver sets regularly.

Sulfsted signed

Rookie guard Alex Sulfsted was signed from Cincinnati's practice squad, replacing injured center Mark Fischer. Sulfsted was released by Kansas City during the preseason cutdown as a sixth-round pick. He also plays offensive tackle.

"He showed pretty impressively during the preseason," coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "We thought he was a player we could develop."

Surprise, surprise

Asked what player has surprised him most this season, Schottenheimer paused long before naming tight end Zeron Flemister. The second-year player has become a standout special teamer who also gets an occasional offensive snap.

Flemister's 11 coverage tackles (seven kickoff, four punt) are four more than linebacker Eddie Mason and fullback Bryan Johnson. However, Schottenheimer conceded that Flemister's surprises can be good and bad.

"He'll do some things real well, and there will be some things you'll say, 'Why did he do that?'" Schottenheimer said.

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