- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 30, 2002

The Washington Redskins began the noncompetitive portion of their season yesterday with more bad news: Linebacker Jeremiah Trotter is out for the year with a blown knee and two teammates, defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson and punter Bryan Barker, also might not return.
Trotter will miss the rest of the regular season and might be sidelined until training camp next summer after tearing the ACL and LCL in his right knee, those familiar with the injury said.
The injury occurred in the second quarter of Thursday's 27-20 loss at Dallas, the Redskins' 10th straight to their archrivals and a setback that essentially ended any lingering playoff hopes for Washington (5-7).
Wilkinson is in danger of missing the final four games after tearing his right calf in the third quarter. For now, his rehabilitation is estimated at 2-4 weeks. His streak of 76 straight starts since being acquired in a 1998 trade will end Dec.8 against the New York Giants.
Barker underwent reconstructive surgery for an open nasal fracture he suffered while recovering a second-quarter blocked field goal attempt. He was scheduled to return to Washington yesterday after remaining Thursday night at Baylor Medical Center. Barker is hopeful of returning this season, but coach Steve Spurrier isn't as optimistic.
Craig Jarrett once again appears to be first in line when the Redskins are ready to sign a punter. He was on the practice squad two weeks ago when Barker's ankle was sprained. The club will hold off until next week before making a move.
Meanwhile, Danny Wuerffel will remain the starting quarterback ahead of rookie Patrick Ramsey. At some point, Spurrier might turn to Ramsey and begin preparing for 2003, but for now the coach remains committed to his former Florida star.
Wuerffel rebounded from a pair of early interceptions Thursday to throw three touchdown passes. But his third pick became the game-turning play when Kenny Watson bobbled a short pass to safety Roy Williams, who ran in a 5-yard touchdown to trim Dallas' deficit to 20-17. The Cowboys later surged ahead, and the Redskins generated just 39 fourth-quarter yards.
"Danny did not play that poorly," Spurrier said. "He had a couple of bad plays there in the first quarter, but after that he did some good things here and there."
Trotter will be sidelined at least four months, according to Spurrier, but the likely scenario has the Redskins' leading tackler out until the last minicamps in early June. Thus, he probably won't go full speed until training camp starts in late July. He will undergo surgery in two or three weeks.
The one positive aspect of Trotter's injury is that it didn't occur to his left knee, which he blew out as a sophomore at Stephen F. Austin. Many clubs questioned the stability of his left knee when he came out of college, dropping him into the third round of the 1998 draft. There is concern that he wouldn't be able to recover from another setback to the left knee.
Trotter, Washington's blockbuster offseason signing at seven years, $35.5million, was not available for comment yesterday. But teammates said there was no contact when he was injured. Similarly, Wilkinson wasn't hit when he heard a "snap" in his calf.
It is unclear whether the artificial surface at Texas Stadium was to blame. Wilkinson said not in his case, but defensive end Renaldo Wynn said "a few guys were complaining about the turf."
"They said the turf was a bit sticky," Wynn said. "It's unfortunate."
Wynn himself took a pain-killing shot for his groin in order to get on the field and was extremely sore by the second half. However, he felt better yesterday than after the Nov.24 win over St. Louis. He and cornerback Fred Smoot, who played through a bruised tailbone, should be able to play against the Giants.
Thursday's other injuries apparently were not serious: linebacker Jessie Armstead (bruised left knee), Watson (bruised left knee) and safety David Terrell (sore hamstring).
The rash of injuries, though, didn't help Washington's defense, which surrendered 144 rushing yards to Emmitt Smith and Dallas' fourth straight 200-yard rushing effort in the series. However, at least one Cowboy felt that the Redskins' heart, or lack of it, was to blame for the poor defensive performance.
"The players have been there for a while, we know them personally, so we know they'd quit," Dallas running back Troy Hambrick told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "That's basically what they did. You witnessed a Redskins defense that would quit. When they are ahead, they play harder. Once they get behind, you see a bunch of star guys over there just quit. They don't want to get cut, or chase the ball. They stand up, and that's how we came at them."
Heart now becomes a huge consideration as Washington prepares to play out the string for a third straight season. The few players at Redskin Park yesterday said they believe the team has enough character to perform well in the final four games.
"When things are going well, it's easy to stay motivated," Wuerffel said. "When things are going poorly, that's when each person has to figure out what motivates them. I think we've got character and some maturity, and I think and expect that everyone will hang in there."
Spurrier was extremely disappointed to let the potential win get away, calling it the season's "most disappointing loss."
Note Owner Dan Snyder last week called the agent for offensive tackle Jon Jansen to reopen stalled contract negotiations, NFL sources said.
Jansen is one of the team's three key pending free agents, along with defensive tackle Daryl Gardener and running back Stephen Davis. (Davis technically is not scheduled to be unrestricted, but his salary is so high that the club must redo his deal).
Washington made a six-year, $24 million offer to extend Jansen's contract in October, but he rejected it. Negotiations then broke off. Snyder is believed to have recently called the agent for Gardener, as well; previously there had been no talks on that front. Davis did a minor restructuring before the season and there have been no talks since.
Staff writer Rick Snider contributed to this report.

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