- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Guard Tre Johnson recognized a handful of former teammates and officials, but Redskin Park seemed awful unfamiliar yesterday. It has been less than two years since leaving, but the former seven-year veteran realized it's not the same team he helped lead to the 1999 playoffs.

"It's like I'm going to a new team. It felt different. Everybody in there is different," Johnson said. "I don't have a feel for what's going on around here."

The Redskins signed Johnson to a one-year, $382,000 deal after injuries and poor play have decimated the interior line. "Banger" was known for his run blocking on the right side, but can also play left guard.

A 1994 second-round pick, Johnson's earlier tenure was often bedeviled by myriad injuries that made him expendable during the 2001 offseason. Johnson played last year for Cleveland before his release on Sept.1 when Browns officials considered his knee unable to last a full season. Johnson said he remained in shape during the past seven weeks, though he didn't watch any football until seeing Washington's 30-9 loss to Green Bay on Sunday.

"Everybody in the NFL is starting to hit that hump. They're tired," Johnson said. "Four weeks of preseason plus a scrimmage and six weeks of football, I'm going to be more fresh than they are. Pushing a 300-pound man around against his will is a deep task."

The Redskins have used 16 guards since 1996, though Johnson started 65 games before being injured in the fourth game in 2000. Johnson said he can regain his 1999 form when he reached the Pro Bowl in his only injury-free season.

"As long as people stop falling on the back of my legs," he said. "I played hurt, but I've never been hit by the bus I saw coming."

Samuels probable

Pro Bowl left tackle Chris Samuels expects to play Sunday against Indianapolis, though yesterday he was battling an ankle sprain and a shoulder stinger and was unsure whether he'll practice tomorrow.

"I think I'll be able to play the game," Samuels said. "I don't know about practice Wednesday, though."

Samuels underwent an X-ray on his ankle and an MRI on his shoulder. Results weren't available as of the evening but there didn't appear to be any long-term concerns, according to both Samuels and team sources.

"I'm pretty sure everything's OK," Samuels said.

Samuels hurt his ankle on the second play of Sunday's loss at Green Bay, tweaking a sprain from the preseason. He then exited in the third quarter when he suffered the stinger. The ankle was the more painful of the two setbacks, he said, adding that trainers took both injuries into consideration when pulling him.

In other injury news, right guard Brenden Stai will test his knee in practice after sitting out the Packers game with tendinitis. Stai jogged lightly yesterday morning and is optimistic about the next hurdle.

"There could be a setback, but I don't think there will be," Stai said. "Every day is better. My mobility's there. It's a matter of Wednesday going out, seeing how it feels trying to play on it, push on guys, do the things I normally do."

Regrettable call

Coach Steve Spurrier wishes he could have Sunday's failed fourth-and-1 play back though not because the Packers turned that stop into a field goal and a 17-6 lead shortly before halftime.

Spurrier remained confident that Washington needed to go for it at the Packers' 45 with 3:26 left, when quarterback Patrick Ramsey came up just short on a sneak. But the coach wanted to run a different play against Green Bay's packed-in defense, and the Redskins already had used all three timeouts on their previous possession.

"It was a bad play call," Spurrier said. "We should have run a sweep or something like that. We got up there and they were stacked up, and the thing to do would have been to call a timeout, get to a better play than what we had on."

The Packers actually called timeout as Washington initially lined up for the play saving a penalty because Green Bay had 12 men on the field.

"They out-timed us right there," Spurrier said.

Extra points

One of those three timeouts Sunday was blown when the tight end lined up on the wrong side, Spurrier said. Another came when Ramsey was trying to change a play. The coach couldn't remember how the third timeout was used. All three came in a six-play span.

The first of Washington's two failed challenges in the second half came, Spurrier explained, when cornerback Fred Smoot convinced everyone on the sideline that he had intercepted a pass in the end zone. The second came on Ramsey's critical fumble in the fourth quarter. Spurrier said it was a long shot that officials would rule that Ramsey was in the act of throwing when he was stripped by Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, but the coach felt it was a chance worth taking.

Spurrier wasn't mad at left guard David Loverne for his two holding penalties that helped keep Washington out of the end zone on a third-quarter drive for a field goal. Said Spurrier: "I don't know how you tell him to do something else than what he did. He blocked the same way the other times; those times they called the penalty."

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