- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Washington Redskins running back Stephen Davis won't play against the Houston Texans on Sunday, but there is a slight chance he could return from a shoulder injury to play against the Dallas Cowboys in the season finale.

Davis suffered a separated shoulder on the second play of the Redskins' 34-21 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. Coach Steve Spurrier said yesterday that an MRI showed the damage wasn't as extensive as expected.

However, it is considered a long shot that Davis will play against the Cowboys because the Redskins want to take a long look at young running backs Ladell Betts and Kenny Watson.

Davis let his right shoulder droop yesterday as he left Redskin Park, saying it felt better that way.

"I have to keep my spirits up," he said. "If it gets better I'll get out here, and if not I'll get ready for next year."

Still, it's doubtful that Davis would risk further injury by playing. The Redskins are expected to release him before free agency begins on March 4 in order to save $5.2million against the salary cap. Aggravating the injury could hurt Davis' value in the free agent market.

"Funny, huh? It's the way the business works. It's wicked. Once you realize that you can accept it a lot better," Davis said. "I'll just have to make the best of it. This is a business. I just have to move on."

Davis was rankled by the thought that his final play as a Redskin might include a fumble he lost the ball on the play on which he was hurt and an injury. Davis said he would prefer to stay with the Redskins, but the Fun 'n' Gun offense relies so heavily on the pass that the club has not even offered to renegotiate the running back's contract.

Redskins officials regularly have declined to comment on Davis' future. However, Spurrier tipped the organization's intent when he was asked whether fans would be upset by losing the two-time Pro Bowl runner in the offseason.

"There comes a point that coaches and owners and franchises can't just be sentimental," Spurrier said. "You have to try to get the best team you can on the field within your salary cap. That's our obligation to the fans to field a team that's capable of competing and winning."

Davis long hoped to surpass John Riggins (7,472) as the team's leading career rusher. Instead, Davis is 85 yards short of No.2 Larry Brown's 5,875.

"It will bug me, but that's not relevant right now," Davis said. "All I care about right now is my shoulder."

Redskin of Year?

Linebacker LaVar Arrington, defensive tackle Daryl Gardener, offensive tackle Jon Jansen and running back Stephen Davis are finalists for the Quarterback Club's Redskin of the Year award tonight. The winner is chosen by media that regularly cover the team.

Arrington and Gardener are considered the front-runners for the award. Arrington won last year but felt Gardener should be honored in his first season with the club.

"Daryl's made a huge impact this year," Arrington said. "He's been a valuable asset to the team."

Trotting along

Linebacker Jeremiah Trotter underwent surgery on both knees Dec.9. Trotter needed reconstructive surgery on his right ACL and arthroscopic surgery to clean out his left knee. He should be ready when training camp begins in late July.

Trotter said watching the last two games on television gave him a new perspective on defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis' system.

"My wife didn't even want to be around me, I was getting so upset," Trotter said. "It's hard to see what's going on when you're playing because there seems like a whole lot of chaos and everything's going on, but I could really see what Marvin has been trying to tell us all season."

Two to go

Three straight losses have tempered Spurrier's optimism that his team can win its final two games against Houston and Dallas. It's the first meeting against the expansion Texans; the Cowboys beat the Redskins 27-20 on Nov.28.

"[Houstons] capable of beating us. If we go out there and fumble four or five times and they run a kickoff or punt back, sure they can beat us," Spurrier said. "Dallas got clobbered pretty good [by the New York Giants 37-7 on Sunday]. Hopefully, they're not going to get the best of us like the last time."

Extra points

Left guard Kipp Vickers may start over David Loverne. Vickers played sparingly in three games and was inactive the last six.

The Redskins worked out quarterbacks Chris Griesen and Wes Pate and receivers Reggie Germany, Larry Parker and Scott Cloman. Washington has two roster openings.

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