- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Even though he was still woozy from Sunday’s mild concussion, Washington Redskins cornerback Champ Bailey is expected to play Saturday night in what could be his final game for the team.

Bailey missed most of Sunday’s loss at Chicago after Marty Booker’s spikes hit him in the face while he was diving to make a tackle. However, the four-time Pro Bowl pick, whose contract expires at season’s end, had no doubt about being ready to play against the Philadelphia Eagles at FedEx Field.

“I’ll play,” Bailey said yesterday before he left Redskin Park for a CAT scan. “I’m not sitting out.”

Results of the CAT scan were not available, but neither Bailey nor club officials expected any serious neurological damage. Coach Steve Spurrier said Bailey “should be ready to go by Saturday night.”

Still, Bailey acknowledged the cobwebs were “not really” gone and said that before Sunday he had never experienced such a wobbly feeling. The injury came when Bailey dived at Booker’s feet on a 59-yard touchdown play. Bailey returned to the game for a few plays but couldn’t continue.

“It’s like I don’t feel normal, but it’s not anything that’s overwhelming,” Bailey said. “I can play with it. If I had to play tomorrow, I could.”

Bailey already has played through shoulder and wrist sprains in this contract season, missing only one practice and virtually no game time before Sunday’s incident.

However, his future with the club remains in doubt. The Redskins plan to use the franchise tag on Bailey this offseason. They then could decide they would get more value and manage their salary cap better by signing another cornerback in a deep group of unrestricted free agents and trading Bailey while he’s tagged.

Also, a good team with low projected first-round picks over the next two years, like Philadelphia or New England, might sign Bailey while he’s tagged and surrender two first-rounders as compensation.

On Saturday, Bailey will try his best not to think about his five-year stay in Washington possibly ending.

“I’m going to try to keep it as far away from me as I can,” Bailey said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m not trying to concern myself with it. I’ll just worry about the Eagles and beating them. Everything else will take care of itself.”

Armstead uncertain

Another defender with a questionable future in Washington is linebacker Jessie Armstead, who has played well in a season of reduced action.

Despite owning the team sack lead at 6, Armstead has gotten the least playing time of the team’s highly paid group of linebackers. He often leaves the field in nonbase packages. He could get cut in the offseason salary crunch.

A former five-time Pro Bowl pick with the New York Giants, Armstead spoke with pride and a bit of an edge when he was asked about the end of his Redskins tenure.

“I have no control over that,” Armstead said. “I just know how I play out there on the football field. If you can go out there and find another linebacker … do what you do. But I know I can play ball. I know I’m consistent. I’m going to be in the right spot at the right time. I don’t have to sell myself. I’m Jessie Armstead.”

Triggers hit

Two young Redskins reached significant escalators in their contracts this season, NFL sources confirmed.

Quarterback Patrick Ramsey earned $500,000 increases in his 2004, 2005 and 2006 base salaries by playing in at least 50 percent of Washington’s plays. Ramsey, who underwent surgery last week to remove an ossicle in his right foot, missed triggering a larger escalator based on 70 percent playing time.

Wide receiver Rod Gardner earned a $500,000 increase in his 2004 base salary because of his catches over his first three NFL seasons. He is due a larger escalator in 2005, and it still could increase based on next season’s performance, sources said.

The additional $1million against the 2004 cap doesn’t help Washington, but the club remains in decent cap shape. Still, franchising Bailey would tie up important cap dollars (more than $6million) and could constrict the team in free agency.

Extra points

Safety Ifeanyi Ohalete will miss the Eagles game with a sprained knee and ankle, but Spurrier said the club does not anticipate that surgery will be necessary. The Redskins plan to put Ohalete on injured reserve and re-sign defensive end Ron Warner. …

Safety Matt Bowen’s second concussion of the season will sideline him from practice today but he should return for the Eagles game. …

Linebacker LaVar Arrington re-sprained a knee at Chicago but should play against Philadelphia. …

Spurrier reiterated that Washington’s pass protection Sunday was some of the best it has been all year. The offensive line has been under scrutiny in recent weeks with speculation about the future of line coach Kim Helton.

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