- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 6, 2003

Bruce Smith and Regan Upshaw each had his chance. Now they’ll have to share.

Washington Redskins defensive coordinator George Edwards plans to split snaps between the two defensive ends in Sunday’s game against Seattle. The plan follows Smith starting and playing the bulk of reps in the first seven games and Upshaw taking that role in last weekend’s loss at Dallas.

Edwards remains undecided as to who will start, but it shouldn’t matter as much because the snaps will be about equal.

“[Upshaw] got a lot of snaps last week,” Edwards said. “We’ll come back this week and try to balance that up better.”

Washington’s pass rush has been under scrutiny all season. Upshaw was signed to start at right end, but offseason arthroscopic knee surgery put him behind Smith, who has recorded 1 sacks. Upshaw got a brief chance to prove himself last weekend — participating in nearly 70 plays, he said — but he still has not recorded a sack as a Redskin.

A factor in Edwards’ final decision could be Smith’s sprained thumb, which caused him to miss practice yesterday for an examination. Smith later said his hand is fine and that he’ll play, but Edwards mentioned the injury while saying he hadn’t decided who would start.

On Monday, Smith expressed frustration with the decision to demote him, attributing the move to coach Steve Spurrier. Yesterday Spurrier said he is leaving the upcoming decision to his assistant coaches.

Smith, who needs 1 more sacks to tie the NFL career record, declined to comment the past two days on his playing time.

Looking long-term

Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and coach Mike Holmgren both expressed optimism for the future of slumping and oft-sacked Redskins quarterback Patrick Ramsey.

Hasselbeck endured similarly tough times his first year as a starter (2001), when he was sacked 38 times in 12 starts and compiled a quarterback rating of 70.9. Two years later, he is sixth in the NFC with an 85.0 rating for the 6-2 Seahawks.

Ramsey has been sacked 26 times in eight starts, and his play has been underwhelming since a hot start the first three games.

“I can completely empathize,” said Hasselbeck, the older brother of Redskins backup quarterback Tim Hasselbeck. “My first year here, I played in pain the whole year. It’s tough to play at a high level in pain. That’s one thing you can’t teach or learn or coach in practice. … When that kid gets healthy and spends a little more time with those receivers in that offense, I think he’s going to be a great player.”

Holmgren recalled how 13 sacks in a pair of early games in 2001 seemed to affect Hasselbeck for the rest of the season — and now serves as the foundation for the toughness he retains.

“He got beat up and never could physically quite get out of that,” Holmgren said. “You just go through this. As long as you can come out the tunnel at the end of the day, you go through the tough things and emerge a much stronger, better football player.”

Fiore surgery?

Guard Dave Fiore, placed on injured reserve Tuesday, could undergo a more significant surgical procedure after a planned meeting with doctors today.

“It’s still to be discussed,” Fiore said. “We’ll probably talk about it tomorrow, see what we’re going to do. But we’d like to figure out what we’re going to do as soon as possible.”

An arthroscopic procedure was performed Oct.17, and Fiore hoped to return for the Seahawks game. But dicey prospects for rehabilitation and mounting Redskins injuries (14 players were on yesterday’s injury report) convinced the team to free up his roster spot.

Injury update

Despite more than a dozen names on the injury report, the Redskins actually don’t have a lot of serious injuries, and even those hurt the worst were somewhat upbeat about their prospects.

Center Larry Moore, for instance, is listed doubtful, but he said the pain had gone down considerably in his sprained foot. He called his odds of playing Sunday “pretty good.”

“It’s better,” Moore added. “When I woke up, it was real swollen and real painful. They moved that swelling out a little bit. I’m walking around better now. It’s not as painful.”

Kick returner Chad Morton remained in a walking boot and called his sprained ankle “a little better,” though he wasn’t ready to make any predictions for the weekend.

“I have no idea,” Morton said. “I’m just going to wait until the end of the week.”

In addition to Moore and Morton, cornerbacks Fred Smoot (chest) and Rashad Bauman (ankle), running back Ladell Betts (forearm), linebacker LaVar Arrington (knee/hand), Smith and defensive tackle Jermaine Haley (thumb) did not practice. All except Betts have solid chances of playing.

Running back Trung Canidate was deemed “probable” by Spurrier after practice, a good sign for a position that otherwise has only fullback Rock Cartwright, banged-up rookie Sultan McCullough and newly signed John Simon.


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