- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 16, 2003

Washington Redskins left guard Dave Fiore decided yesterday to end the weekly guessing game about his sore right knee and have arthroscopic surgery today.

The decision came four days after Fiore said he had ruled out surgery. Despite missing the past three games with an inflammation in his surgically repaired knee, he believed a minor procedure like this one might not do any good and a major one would end his season.

But conversations with several doctors in recent days convinced Fiore he would have a brighter outlook if the knee is cleaned out. He hopes to return for the Nov. 9 game against Seattle, and he is leaving a small chance he could return Nov.2 at Dallas.

“It was a tough decision,” Fiore said as he left Redskin Park in the evening. “You don’t want to go into it half[way]. Surgery is an option, and it’s obviously something we’d like to avoid during the regular season. There is some uncertainty, but discussing it more and more and seeing the benefits of it, it just seemed like it was the best choice at this time.”

Meanwhile, defensive tackle Jermaine Haley remained undecided about surgery on his fractured thumb, agent Drew Rosenhaus said. Haley sat out a second practice yesterday and had an evaluation of his thumb in the evening, but Rosenhaus said he didn’t expect a decision to be reached until at least today.

The Redskins got somewhat of a discount on Fiore in the spring because of his history of surgeries on both knees. The concerns proved to have merit, and he has been replaced by rookie Derrick Dockery the past three weeks with mixed results.

Each week Fiore thought his knee would benefit from rest and he would be able to play. He even practiced last Wednesday and Thursday before the knee acted up. The most recent thought was to treat it with medication, rehabilitate during next week’s open date and try to return for the Dallas game. But Fiore realized he could do that and end up undergoing an arthroscopic procedure in a few weeks anyway.

Now he’s optimistic he’ll be healthy for the second half of the season.

“I think we will have success with it,” Fiore said. “There’s something floating around in there that’s causing the joint to really act up. If we can flush that out and the knee becomes a lot less irritated and I’m able to function better, it will put me back on the field pretty soon.”

Finally Morton’s week?

It would be fitting if kickoff returner Chad Morton capped a stretch of progressively better runbacks in recent weeks with a touchdown Sunday at Buffalo.

As a New York Jet in last year’s opener at Buffalo, Morton became the fifth player in NFL history to return two kickoffs for scores: a 98-yarder in regulation and a 96-yarder to start overtime.

The sterling performance put him on the national radar and helped set up the five-year, $8million contract the Redskins gave him in the offseason. But he and his new blockers have struggled to build chemistry, and it wasn’t until recent weeks, when he busted runs of 34 and 37 yards, that he really seemed a threat to break one.

Now he could do so against a team he has exploited in the past.

“It’s a different team and a different year,” Morton said. “I just put that stuff in the past, but I don’t expect [the Bills] to. I know they’re probably going to come down gunning for me, trying to make up for last year.”

Meanwhile, Morton also could shake a frustrating start on punt returns against a unit that yielded several long runbacks to the Jets’ Santana Moss last week. Although Morton has a solid 9.6-yard average on punt returns, he has just eight tries and 11 fair catches, an unusual ratio he attributes to game situations.

Extra points

Tampa Bay defensive end Greg Spires was fined $7,500 for roughing Redskins quarterback Patrick Ramsey last weekend. Spires hit Ramsey helmet to helmet as defensive tackle Warren Sapp was completing a second-quarter sack. …

Defensive end Ladairis Jackson has been told by coaches that he will be active this week. Defensive coordinator George Edwards hoped to get the young pass rusher on the field in recent games, but there wasn’t room among the active players. The difference now? Jackson said he will contribute on special teams, namely kickoff coverage and return and punt coverage. …

Running back Ladell Betts, who will start in place of Trung Canidate (ankle), believes he is the type of back who will benefit from the full load. “I’d like to think so, but I haven’t done it in awhile,” said Betts, whose career high for rushes is 20, set last December against Houston. “Hopefully it will be the same like I was in college [at Iowa].” …

The Redskins worked out defensive end Ron Warner, who has bounced around the league for six years, including recently with Tampa Bay.

Safety Matt Bowen grew up in Chicago and is a lifelong Cubs fan. He was still reeling from the Cubs’ collapse in the National League Championship Series and Wednesday night’s elimination. “I was sick,” Bowen said of watching Game 7. “I wasn’t angry; I was sick to my stomach.”

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