- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 12, 2002

Washington Redskins running back Stephen Davis will start tomorrow against the New Orleans Saints, while Wilbert Brown will make his first NFL start in place of injured left guard David Loverne.

Davis said he was "85 percent" after returning to practice yesterday, compared to 50 percent or 60 percent in the second half of last weekend's victory at Tennessee. Davis was in severe pain after spraining his right knee in the first quarter but returned to rush for 59 yards in the second half.

"I think the trainers did a great job of keeping the swelling out of it [this week] and getting some of the pain out of there," Davis said after participating in both team and individual drills. "I think I'll be all right."

Brown joins the starting lineup after performing fairly well last weekend when Loverne suffered a bruised thigh. Brown contributed to probably the line's best game of the season, helping the unit hold the Titans to one sack and the run game average 5.2 yards a carry.

"I'm excited about [starting]," Brown said. "I feel real good about what we're trying to do on offense. I know all my plays. So all I've got to do is go out there and play hard."

Line coach Kim Helton continued to express confidence in Brown, saying, "He's a 25-year-old guy, so he's not just coming out of college. He had to go to [NFL] Europe, been some places. He's got a mature attitude, and he'll do everything right he's physically capable of doing."

Loverne said he is healthy enough to play if necessary, but it's unclear whether Washington will make him active. Loverne is limited because he is only a left guard. Ross Tucker, in contrast, can play a number of positions on the line and is healthy. Coach Steve Spurrier said there's a "good chance Tucker will suit up this week."

Said Helton: "I think when guys are close in want-to and ability, take the healthy one."

Reserve lineman Kipp Vickers is getting closer to playing after arthroscopic knee surgery several weeks ago, but it is unclear whether he'll be active. Linebacker LaVar Arrington continues to have no doubt he'll play despite a sprained wrist, responding to questions about his health by saying with a hearty laugh, "Come on, man."

Spurrier reiterated that Kenny Watson will be the second-string tailback ahead of Ladell Betts, though he said Betts will be active. The coach continues to target former starting receiver Derrius Thompson for a bit more work. And quarterback Danny Wuerffel, despite barely being able to lift his throwing arm because of a strained shoulder muscle, is expected to be listed as the emergency third passer.

"We don't plan on him playing," Spurrier said. "He'd have to hand off a lot if he played."


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