- The Washington Times - Monday, September 1, 2003

Getting the wind knocked out the other night ended up blowing Washington Redskins wide receiver Taylor Jacobs right out of Thursday’s opener against the New York Jets.

The NFL debut of the second-round pick will be delayed as Jacobs recovers from what has been dubbed “abdominal trauma,” a term that might overstate a setback that club officials view as not particularly serious.

It could have been, though. When Jacobs landed awkwardly while trying to catch a fourth-quarter pass at Jacksonville on Thursday night, he was lucky he didn’t rupture any internal organs. Instead, what at first seemed to be just getting the wind knocked out ended up being an internal bruise or two.

“Taylor sort of fell on a guy’s foot and had an abdominal issue, where one of his inside parts was bruised,” coach Steve Spurrier said. “He’s resting, and he’s doing a lot better now. But he’ll probably be out a week or two.”

Patrick Johnson, who caught four balls for 58 yards and a touchdown Thursday, and Darnerien McCants will take increased snaps in place of Jacobs, who has been the No.3 receiver behind Laveranues Coles and Rod Gardner.

The elevation on the depth chart caps a strong preseason that might have boosted Johnson above Jacobs anyway. Spurrier said Saturday that production would determine the rotation in upcoming games, and in the preseason Johnson (eight catches for 105 yards) clearly outperformed Jacobs (three for 42).

Johnson, however, isn’t worried about his place on the depth chart. He said his erratic opportunities in five NFL seasons and the spread-it-around nature of Spurrier’s offense make him excited for this year regardless.

“I’ve been around,” Johnson said. “Finally, just the situation that I’m in, I don’t really have to worry about where I’m at, because I know I’m going to get an opportunity.”

Starters announced

Defensive end Bruce Smith will make his 260th career start Thursday after a solid preseason pushed him ahead of newcomer Regan Upshaw, who hasn’t flourished during an unexpectedly long rehabilitation from arthroscopic knee surgery.

Smith winning the job at right end was among several pieces of the depth chart confirmed by defensive coordinator George Edwards. Also, Jermaine Haley and Bernard Holsey will start at defensive tackle and Ifeanyi Ohalete at strong safety.

Upshaw was expected to be the starter when he signed a five-year, $7.5million contract in March. But Smith was determined to keep his job, and Upshaw’s surgery in June limited his reps until recently.

“I think it’s a combination of everything,” Edwards said. “Bruce has gone out and had a good preseason. Regan’s gone out and had a good preseason. But like we’ve talked about before, it’s not about who starts. We know what we’ve got in both of those players. … Everybody’s going to get their number of reps.”

Upshaw is the left end in pass-rushing situations and will see snaps as Smith’s backup on the right side. He expressed no ill feelings about being No.2.

“I’m totally cool,” Upshaw said. “I’m going to play. Just as long as I play, I’ll be happy. I don’t want to take all the reps anyhow. I might pass out and die.”

Noble surgery set

Defensive tackle Brandon Noble has settled on a doctor and a timetable for surgery on his left knee, which endured multiple ligament tears and a dislocated kneecap in the Aug.16 game against New England.

Dr. Glenn Perry, of Charlotte, N.C., will operate on Noble in about a month. After consulting with several doctors, Noble decided to go with Perry, whose plan is to let the swelling subside and allow the joint to regain some movement, then to repair it.

“The thing about this injury is, every doctor had a different way of doing this,” Noble said. “That’s one of those things where you pick one [plan] and you can’t look back.”

Noble was a bit more upbeat after discussing his situation with Perry, but he remains realistic about his recovery.

“All the doctors have said it’s definitely career-threatening, but it’s not something I can’t come back from,” Noble said. “I’ll hopefully be able to get back on the field next summer, but it’ll be in my head. It’s going to take awhile after I get on the field to come back. But I have every intention of being on the field next year.”

Home sweet home

Posted in the locker room was a comparison of Washington’s mediocre home records over the past three years (5-3, 4-4 and 4-4, counting backward); its 6-2 record in the 1999 playoff run; and its 7-1 record under Joe Gibbs in 1990, when the team won just three road games but made the playoffs by going 10-6 overall.

“We have to win on our turf,” tackle Chris Samuels said. “We’ve got the advantage there. We can’t let anybody come into our house and beat us. We’ve got to win.”

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