- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Washington Redskins defensive end Bruce Smith yesterday acknowledged that this will be his final season, though in classic Smith fashion he refused to close the door completely.

Three days after breaking the NFL career sack record with a takedown of the New York Giants’ Jesse Palmer, Smith issued his strongest comments to date about ending his career after Washington plays Philadelphia on Dec.27 at FedEx Field.

“Those are my intentions,” Smith said. “Unless there’s some unusual circumstance that comes into play, more than likely these will be the final three games of my career.”

Asked what “unusual circumstance” might occur, Smith conceded he simply doesn’t feel comfortable making a definitive statement.

“I just never go into a situation saying I’ll never do something,” Smith said. “That’s pretty much it.”

Smith’s Redskins career will end with four seasons and mixed results. In 2000 he recorded 10 sacks and set the NFL record for most double-digit sack seasons (13), but since then his effectiveness has been erratic and his pursuit of the sack record at times has detracted from the good of the team.

Morton to start?

Injuries, recent history and coach Steve Spurrier’s comments indicate that scatback Chad Morton is in line to start Sunday against Dallas.

The Redskins’ top two tailbacks, Trung Canidate (foot) and Ladell Betts, appear unlikely to play after missing practice yesterday. Canidate officially is questionable but Spurrier called him “doubtful,” while Betts again is dealing with the painful forearm fracture that caused him to miss four games in November.

Morton already has two starts this season and got the bulk of carries last weekend after Canidate and Betts went down. Yesterday, Spurrier listed his tailbacks as Morton, rookie Sultan McCullough and John Simon.

“They all looked quick and fast,” Spurrier said. “If Trung cannot go and Ladell’s definitely out, those three will be our backs.”

The problem with Morton is that he is smaller (5-foot-8, 203 pounds) and not as durable. His one true start (the one in which he was intended to get the bulk of carries) came in the first meeting with Dallas. He rushed six times and caught two passes before spraining his ankle in the second quarter.

Regardless of who’s at tailback, Washington’s run game could be significant with inclement weather predicted (icy mix; 80 percent chance of precipitation) and Spurrier having called 48 runs, the most in his NFL career, last weekend at New York.

M. Hasselbeck’s critique

Tim Hasselbeck sees room for improvement despite Sunday’s solid 13-for-19, two-touchdown performance, which earned him a 128.0 rating and his first victory.

Or at least Hasselbeck sees it that way after a conversation with his brother, Matt, Seattle’s starting quarterback.

“I talked to my brother last night and he said, ‘You guys got a win and that’s great, [but] that might have been the worst you’ve played out of the three games,’” Hasselbeck said. “I kind of got mad at him a little bit, and he said, ‘If you’re going to get defensive, let’s not talk about it.’”

Hasselbeck was in a light mood as he related the incident, so it didn’t seem to bother him too much. This weekend, though, he has a big task in facing the NFL’s No.1 defense and a set that used its speed and blitzing ability to hammer quarterback Patrick Ramsey in the first meeting.

Spurrier hopes some changes to the offense, the offensive line’s improved play and Hasselbeck’s relative mobility will keep the current passer upright Sunday.

“We’re going to try to get rid of it quicker or block them or a little of both or roll out,” Spurrier said. “We’re going to try something hopefully a little smarter than the last time we played them.”

Extra points

Tackle Chris Samuels (knee), wide receiver Taylor Jacobs (knee) and Smith (rest) skipped practice. Samuels and Jacobs were listed as questionable; Spurrier called Samuels “doubtful.” Brandon Winey would make a third straight start if Samuels can’t go. …

Wide receiver Laveranues Coles aggravated a turf toe injury that has bothered him all season. He left practice about midway through but Spurrier was confident Coles wouldn’t miss Sunday’s game. … Linebacker LaVar Arrington (knee/ankle) was able to participate in parts of practice, a mild surprise given he was expected to sit out at least one day. …

Center Larry Moore was placed on injured reserve with the foot sprain that has had Lennie Friedman starting the past five games. Moore is out the rest of this season but will not require surgery. … Linebacker Clifton Smith was signed off the practice squad. Defensive lineman Greg White was added to the practice squad. …

Washington practiced on one of the three grass fields at Redskin Park as a steady rain fell and mixed with the snow still piled up from last weekend. Spurrier said the team was able to get in all of its workout. He expects today’s practice to be on the artificial turf field.

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