- The Washington Times - Monday, October 13, 2003

Tight end Robert Royal is headed to injured reserve for a second time in as many years after fracturing his right hip in Sunday’s 35-13 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

A club official said last night that tight end Zeron Flemister was re-signed and Royal was placed on injured reserve to make room on the 53-man roster.

Byron Chamberlain, a 2001 Pro Bowl pick acquired last week, is now the Redskins’ starter. Chamberlain had three catches for 23 yards against the Bucs, all in the second half.

Royal, a 2002 fifth-round pick, missed his rookie season with a high ankle sprain. He was injured Sunday when he tried to block defensive end Simeon Rice. Doctors told him he would miss at least six weeks. He departed Redskin Park yesterday on crutches and held out hope he would return this season, but he realized another year might end prematurely.

“I always try to prepare myself for the worst in football,” Royal said. “The game is a contact sport, and the things can happen. Unfortunately it was one of those crazy instances. But life goes on. I’ve just got to rehab, get stronger and hopefully come back.”

The Redskins were impressed with the way Royal learned the game and his dedication. He flashed solid pass-catching skills in training camp the past two years but caught just five balls for 48 yards this season. Still, Royal moved ahead of Flemister, who missed two games this season with an Achilles’ tendon strain and had just one catch.

Flemister spent last week with the Cleveland Browns after he was cut to make room for Chamberlain. Washington re-signed Flemister last night after he cleared waivers following his release by Cleveland.

Canidate uncertain

Running back Trung Canidate won’t practice tomorrow and could be sidelined Sunday at Buffalo if his mild high ankle sprain doesn’t heal. Coach Steve Spurrier said Canidate would be re-evaluated later this week.

Canidate wore a walking boot at Redskin Park and had no new information about his injury. He said he hopes to play, but admitted it might be smart to rest this week and, with next week’s open date, return at near full-strength.

“That’s an option,” Canidate said. “You want to look at all the options. The main thing is I’ve got to get it right. If that option fits better with me getting it right, then that’s the direction to go.”

Canidate had eight carries for 27 yards Sunday before being injured; second-year back Ladell Betts got the bulk of work from there but managed just 37 yards on 13 tries. Betts was unconcerned that a mild ankle sprain might limit him this weekend. Spurrier said rookie Sultan McCullough could be activated.

Extra points

Cornerback Fred Smoot is “questionable” with a bruised collarbone. He is expected to miss practice tomorrow and then be re-examined. If Smoot can’t play, he would be replaced by Rashad Bauman. Safeties David Terrell and Todd Franz appear to be ahead of corner Ade Jimoh for the No.3 job. …

Spurrier said left guard Dave Fiore is “very questionable” with knee soreness that has sidelined him the past three games. There is growing concern in the organization that Fiore might not return, but he said Sunday night he is determined to keep trying. For now, he has ruled out surgery because a major procedure would end his season and a minor one might not produce results. …

The Redskins had only two false starts against the Bucs (by center Larry Moore and Chamberlain, the new tight end) after seven against the Eagles.

“We finally, I think, got a handle on the cadence,” tackle Jon Jansen said. “And as soon as I say that, it’ll be seven or eight offsides this week. Hopefully we do have that under control and we’ll go from there.” …

Defensive end Regan Upshaw and Spurrier both disagreed with the personal foul penalty the former drew in the second quarter. His push of quarterback Brad Johnson negated Washington’s third-down stop and set up a Bucs touchdown.

“It was a bogus call, a horrible call,” said Upshaw, who drew a $5,000 fine last week for a retaliatory hit on Philadelphia’s Jon Runyan. “Come on, man. If they’re going to turn this NFL into a flag football league, then that’s just the way I’ve got to play it. If the guy doesn’t have the ball in his hand, you just can’t hit him. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the game.”

Said Spurrier: “I thought that was a bad call. He’s hustling, he runs into the quarterback, then he chased the ball. He did hit him a little after he threw it. It’s one of those judgment calls.”

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