- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 14, 2002

Washington Redskins running back Stephen Davis returned to limited practice yesterday and is "pretty confident" he will play Sunday against the New York Giants.

Davis had not practiced for two weeks after hurting his right knee in the Oct.27 victory over Indianapolis. The injury, a sprain or strain where the hamstring attaches to the outside of the knee, caused him significant pain but now is "just more sore than painful," according to Davis.

Davis' knee was protected by a brace during practice, something he termed "just precautionary." Asked whether it affects his play, he replied, "[Ive] got to get used to it."

Coach Steve Spurrier isn't banking on Davis being available but obviously was pleased that his franchise running back returned to the field.

"He's still limited somewhat," Spurrier said. "But he's out here running around for the first time two weeks, so that's encouraging."

The coach said "there's a good chance" backup Kenny Watson, who filled in capably during Davis' injury, could rotate with Davis against the Giants.

Washington's rushing offense will be crucial in this NFC East battle, which could be played in cold, rainy conditions if weather predictions hold. The Redskins passed 51 times to only 16 rushes in last weekend's loss at Jacksonville, and Spurrier later promised to be more balanced in coming games.

Perhaps with that in mind, the coach doesn't think the weather will complicate his game plan, even though he went scoreless in his last game in wintry conditions at the Meadowlands: Duke's 7-0 loss to Rutgers in 1987.

"No, [the weather] doesn't complicate us at all," Spurrier said. "It may help us, who knows?"

Shade out

Veteran safety Sam Shade, who has played mostly special teams since losing the starting strong safety job to Ifeanyi Ohalete, will sit out Sunday's game while trying to protect a disc injury in his neck.

Shade battled a bulging disc last season but didn't miss any games. An MRI on Monday revealed no further problems with the previous injury but indicated "there might be a problem with another disc," according to Shade.

"We're still looking at it," Shade said. "I'm going to go back tomorrow, and he's going to consult with another specialist."

Shade said the injury doesn't appear to be long-term but added, "[The doctor] told me he definitely wants to hold me out of this game."

Among other injuries, quarterback Danny Wuerffel increased his practice load and his strained shoulder should be healthy enough for him to be the third passer. Guard Brenden Stai, who has missed four games with tendinitis in his knee, did some running on the side. Reserve defensive lineman Carl Powell returned to practice.

Praising Jessie

Giants defensive end Michael Strahan was emphatic in his compliments to former teammate Jessie Armstead, now a Redskins linebacker.

Asked what the Giants miss without Armstead, Strahan replied, "Leadership, Leadership and Leadership capital letters. He's a guy you know what you're going to get every time he steps on the field. A guy full of fire, and probably the most instinctive football player I've ever played with."

When Armstead was cut Feb.28, Strahan said it was "almost like a piece of me was gone, because Jessie meant a lot to me. He helped me through some stuff. I honestly say it was the end of an era. I still miss him not being here."

Extra points

Wide receiver/punt returner Jacquez Green, cut by Washington on Tuesday, was claimed off waivers by Detroit. The move was almost a wash against the Redskins' salary cap. The club saved $216,000, the prorated portion of Green's salary, but was charged $150,000 in signing bonus acceleration. …

The Redskins added wide receiver Richmond Flowers to their practice squad, replacing promoted Justin Skaggs. Flowers earned a name as the singing receiver on HBO's "Hard Knocks" this summer, when he participated in the Dallas Cowboys' training camp. …

Defensive tackle Daryl Gardener, after recording nine tackles Sunday at Jacksonville, now has 41 tackles 15 more than any other Redskins defensive linemen although he missed the Sept.16 game against Philadelphia with back spasms.

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