- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 5, 2002

WILMINGTON, N.C. First-round draft pick Jared Jeffries strained his left shoulder in yesterday's morning session, but the injury was not serious and he participated in last night's evening practice.

Jeffries came down on a fast break situation, slipped, collided with a teammate in the air and landed awkwardly. He iced the shoulder right after the injury and was scheduled to be evaluated further yesterday afternoon.

"Everything looks good right now; hopefully there's nothing wrong," Jeffries said.

Though Jeffries appears to be OK, the fall was enough to scare coach Doug Collins.

"My heart was up in my throat," Collins said. "It was a little scary. He said he feels pretty good, so the good part was we got him over there, got him iced. Hopefully. he's going to be OK. We can't afford to lose him."

Collins has raved about Jeffries' ability to rebound, especially offensively, and finish baskets on the fast break during the first several days of practice. Collins also said he's one of the first players out on the floor shooting before practice and has already shown signs of growth this week.

"He is a coaches' dream in terms of how hard he works, and he has a lot of talent," Collins said. "He's getting better every day. I think it's fun as a young player when you see and feel yourself getting better, you can't wait to get out on the practice court."

Grizzard practices

Rod Grizzard practiced in both of yesterday's sessions but continues to fight through pain in his sore right knee.

"It feels a little better," Grizzard said. "I didn't go as hard, but still I was out there."

Grizzard gets treatment twice a day and is doing different rehab exercises. The training staff leaves the decision to play up to him, much like it handled Kwame Brown and his hamstring injury. Grizzard's dilemma is whether to try to play and prove himself at small forward a position stocked with talent in Bryon Russell, Jeffries and Bobby Simmons or rest and make sure he is 100 percent.

"The first instinct I had was that it was OK and I wanted to jump back out there," Grizzard said, "but that might not be the best thing. I'm trying to get back out there because with some of the guys at some of the positions, we have great players on this team. I'm just trying to make my mark."

Grizzard, one of the Wizards' two second-round draft picks this spring, said he felt good before training camp, but during the second session on Tuesday, he had some weakness in the knee. He originally fractured his tibial plateau in early May during a draft workout in Philadelphia. He had surgery on the knee in mid-May.

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