- The Washington Times - Friday, November 7, 2003

Redskins Notes

The Washington Redskins are down another starter on the offensive line. Center Larry Moore will miss tomorrow’s home game against Seattle and possibly one or two more after a new X-ray revealed a bone chip in addition to the sprain in his foot.

Coach Steve Spurrier referred to Moore as “doubtful,” but the veteran center later said he had another meeting with doctors and was certain, based on their report, that he wouldn’t play.

“[The doctor is] telling me this injury’s a couple weeks out,” Moore said. “I’ve got a little bone chip in there. You can’t really push off on it.”

Lennie Friedman will start in Moore’s place. The Redskins are confident there isn’t much drop-off in ability from Moore to Friedman, who started 22 games for Denver before signing with Washington in the offseason. But there still could be continuity issues on a line already down starting left guard Dave Fiore.

Earlier this week, the Redskins placed Fiore on injured reserve. Fiore started the first three games before being sidelined by a sore knee. Rookie Derrick Dockery has struggled in his place but rebounded with a solid game last weekend at Dallas.

Washington’s offensive line remains under heavy scrutiny because of quarterback Patrick Ramsey’s 26 sacks, but the sacks and hits aren’t just the fault of linemen.

Changes under way

Spurrier, in a rare moment of strategic candor, said his offense has been working on some tactics this week to help Ramsey get rid of the ball more quickly. He added that last week’s use of maximum-protection schemes (eight blockers, two receivers) was part of the effort to protect Ramsey.

The admissions came after weeks of giving little indication that he has altered the scheme at all. He usually has said players just need to block better, and two weeks ago he even indicated that he might give Ramsey less protection while trying to run a purer version of the Fun’n’Gun.

The key organizational criticism of Spurrier has been that defenses have figured out how to attack his offense and that he has failed to respond. Perhaps now he is rectifying that issue.

“We’ve got some new little wrinkles that hopefully you’ll see in the ballgame,” Spurrier said. “We’ve got some other new little plans to get the ball out of Patrick’s hands quicker.”

The coach also said the running backs spent extra time on pass protection. Picking up blitzes has been Washington’s biggest recent problem; at Dallas, all four Cowboys sacks came from linebackers and safeties.

Morton doubtful

Kickoff and punt return man Chad Morton remains unlikely to play against the Seahawks despite doing some light running at practice and shedding the walking boot that protected his sprained ankle all week.

Spurrier said Morton “is probably out,” and Morton declined to speculate on whether he would play.

“I’m going to keep going until the end of the week, even run around the hotel [tomorrow morning] if I have to test it,” Morton said.

Wide receiver Patrick Johnson would replace Morton on returns. Morton’s absence wouldn’t make a big difference at running back, where he started last week. Tomorrow Trung Canidate is slated to return, with newly signed John Simon the primary backup.

Smoot earns respect

Several teammates privately said cornerback Fred Smoot proved himself a true professional by playing against the Cowboys. He plans to make a similarly gritty appearance tomorrow, having returned to practice yesterday after spending most of the week still looking like he was in great pain.

“Anytime my chest opens up, it hurts,” conceded Smoot, who fractured his sternum Oct.12 against Tampa Bay. “It hurts to take deep breaths. And please don’t let me cough or sneeze or anything — it really hurts.”

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