- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 30, 2003

Washington Redskins cornerback Fred Smoot returned to practice yesterday, a positive but by no means definitive sign for the team’s banged-up defensive backfield.

The Redskins are getting set to make game-time decisions Sunday on Smoot and No.3 cornerback Rashad Bauman. Smoot had not practiced since fracturing his sternum and bruising his chest Oct.12 against Tampa Bay. Bauman sprained his left ankle in Monday’s short practice on wet artificial turf and hasn’t returned.

The status of both players is crucial against what linebacker LaVar Arrington called “the best receiving corps in the NFL” — the Dallas trio of Joey Galloway, Terry Glenn and Antonio Bryant.

“This was a bad week for everybody to get hurt,” Bauman said.

One club official was more upbeat about Smoot, but another said he still probably wouldn’t play. Coach Steve Spurrier called Smoot “doubtful” after the corner ran around but had no contact in the afternoon practice. Still, considering how much pain Smoot seemed to endure in recent weeks, practicing was a big step.

“I’m healing better than I thought I was,” Smoot said. “There’s a good chance I can play.”

Bauman remained in a walking boot and might not practice today. But he still was hopeful and planned on determining Sunday morning whether he’ll play at Texas Stadium.

“It’s done very well,” Bauman said of the ankle. “The swelling’s gone down. Now we’re just working on the soreness. Once that goes down … hopefully, I’ll be able to tolerate it on Sunday.”

Safety David Terrell and rookie cornerback Ade Jimoh are competing to be the first corner in reserve; Terrell held the duty two weeks ago at Buffalo. If both Smoot and Bauman don’t play, Terrell and Jimoh would be on the field.

“We have our reserves, and that’s what they get paid to do,” defensive backs coach George Catavolos said. “So they’re ready to go.”

Although Galloway leads Dallas in receiving yards (410) and Glenn has a team-high four touchdowns, the Redskins are wary of Bryant, who burned them for nine catches, 211 yards and two touchdowns in last season’s two meetings.

Canidate unlikely

Running back Trung Canidate (ankle) once again performed only individual drills in practice, and Spurrier termed him as “very doubtful.”

“It’s just not exactly where it needs to be, but we’ve still got a couple more days,” Canidate said after practice.

It appears fairly likely now that Washington will start scatback Chad Morton or fullback Rock Cartwright depending on the play call, Spurrier said. Also, rookie Sultan McCullough could see some carries.

No cap for Champ

Wednesday’s signing of defensive tackle Darrell Russell left Washington with about $870,000 of salary cap space — a paltry sum considering that cutting defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson in training camp left the club with more than $4.5 million.

Whittling away the Redskins’ cap space were preseason trades for defensive tackles Martin Chase ($530,000) and Lional Dalton ($900,000), signing Russell ($794,000) and tight end Byron Chamberlain ($562,000), as well as restructuring defensive end Bruce Smith’s contract ($1.75 million).

The upshot is that the Redskins’ nine-year, $55 million extension proposal to cornerback Champ Bailey — which Bailey rejected as being deficient on a variety of fronts — no longer would be palatable. That offer required just over $1 million of 2003 cap space, and now Washington would have to offer even less upfront money.

Bailey, however, shrugged off the Redskins’ use of their funds, instead focusing on how Russell could help the defense.

“One thing I can say, he’s going to be a big part of this team,” Bailey said. “I’m not worried about cap space. That’s not my concern right now. All I’m worried about is playing football and winning games. [The contract] will take care of itself. If they want to work something out, they’ll work it out.”

Extra points

Spurrier still has not decided on a backup quarterback between Tim Hasselbeck and practice squad rookie Gibran Hamdan. The coach did compliment Hasselbeck on how he is picking up the offense. Hamdan would not be signed off the practice squad — a move that could happen as late as tomorrow — unless he were No. 2….

Defensive end Regan Upshaw continues to hear from coaches that he’ll get increased snaps at right end, where Bruce Smith has started all season. Upshaw has been frustrated with having to play a lot of left end for the first time in his career, which he said is part of why he has only seven tackles, no sacks and three pressures.

“It would be nice for me to get in a situation where I’m a fish in water,” Upshaw said. “And if I’m not able to make that impact at that position that I’ve been able to the last eight years, then they probably need to make a different decision as far as having me here as a player.”

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