- The Washington Times - Friday, October 10, 2003

It’s become a daily ritual for Dave Fiore: Test his ailing knee on the practice field, spend much of the afternoon in the Washington Redskins’ training room, then field questions about whether the left guard will be able to play this week.

Fiore’s routine played again yesterday, though the prognosis seemed to be worse than in at least a week. Held out of the bulk of practice at Redskin Park, Fiore was downgraded from probable to questionable for tomorrow’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at FedEx Field.

For the third straight week, the Redskins will have to make a game-time decision on Fiore’s availability. The last two weeks, the decision has been to keep him out of uniform — not an encouraging sign.

“I think we had the understanding the whole week that it would be a game-time decision,” Fiore said. “It’s got to be how I feel and how physical and athletic I look out there. We’ve got to be able to put ourselves in a position where if I’m out there on the field, I’m going to be helping our team more than hurting our team.”

The situation is becoming increasingly frustrating for Fiore, who underwent surgery on the knee last fall while with the San Francisco 49ers but came back strong and didn’t miss a practice during training camp or preseason. An MRI performed last week revealed no structural damage, so Fiore believes his knee will heal in time. He just hopes it’s soon.

“It’s beyond words how frustrating it is,” he said. “I’ve been so eager to be a part of this team and to contribute, because I think we have the capability to do something really special. Part of my game is being out there and hustling and being physical and showing second effort. That’s the way I play, and not to be able to do those things and not to be able to be on the field, it’s just been really difficult.”

If Fiore can’t play tomorrow, rookie Derrick Dockery once again would replace him.

The injury news wasn’t all bad yesterday. Right guard Randy Thomas, who had to sit out Wednesday with a swollen knee, practiced for the second straight day and declared himself ready to start.

Chamberlain set to go

Tight end Byron Chamberlain, signed Monday, will see some action tomorrow. Coach Steve Spurrier said the former Minnesota Viking will be used on two tight-end sets and could spell starter Robert Royal otherwise.

Chamberlain, a 2001 Pro Bowl selection with the Vikings who was released last week after reporting overweight following a four-game suspension for testing positive for ephedra, has taken a crash course on the Fun ‘n’ Gun offense.

“I’ve been sleeping with my playbook, trying to learn through osmosis,” he said. “I’m picking it up pretty well. I think I’ll be ready for Sunday.”

Chamberlain said he’s still working to get into better shape after he reportedly weighed 270 pounds in Minnesota. The Redskins weighed him in at 264 last week, and Chamberlain said he’d like to ultimately get down to 250-255.

“It’s going to take a little while,” he said. “But I’ll get it done.”

DTs stepping up

The Redskins’ unheralded defensive tackles have improved their pass-rushing technique in recent weeks. Last Sunday in Philadelphia, tackle Bernard Holsey recorded 1 sacks, a sure sign of progress.

“That’s the thing we’ve got to get consistent at, and last week I thought we got better at it,” defensive line coach Robert Nunn said. “We had a couple games there where we weren’t getting the push inside. I think we’ve made improvement there.”

Holsey, a late summer free agent addition, had his best game against the Eagles. He got to elusive quarterback Donovan McNabb twice, once teaming up with Bruce Smith and once sacking McNabb on his own.

“I’ve still got a long ways to go,” Holsey said. “There are a lot of things I could have done better. I want to be more consistent with my pass pressure, convert from a run mentality to a pass mentality.”

Extra points

Coach Steve Spurrier kept his quarterbacks and wide receivers on the field for about 15 extra minutes after practice yesterday to work on some plays they weren’t able to get to earlier.

“We’ll probably start doing this every Friday,” he said. “It’s just hard to get all of your throws in with the whole team. Hopefully, it will pay some dividends.” …

When Spurrier threw out backup offensive lineman Lennie Friedman’s name earlier this week as a possible replacement for one of his oft-penalized starters, a few members of the media jumped on the story. Spurrier, though, wasn’t being serious, a fact that became obvious yesterday when he spoke about the obscure backup guard/center.

“I pick up the paper to see what they’re writing about us, and I see: ‘Steve Spurrier says Lennie Friedman is going to play,’” the Ball Coach said jokingly. “At least somebody knows he’s on the team. He could be on the FBI most wanted list, and nobody would know where he was.”

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