- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 25, 2003

The Washington Redskins coaching staff does not know if starting left guard Dave Fiore’s sore right knee will keep him from starting Sunday against the New England Patriots. Regardless, the Redskins do know that rookie Derrick Dockery will sub for Fiore and take his first NFL snap at some point during the game.

Fiore sat out his second straight day of practice yesterday, his surgically repaired knee feeling the effects of last week’s overtime loss to the New York Giants. He’s officially listed as questionable for Sunday but said he expects to start, just as he did last week after missing two days of practice.

“Obviously, I’m recovering from the surgery and the workload of a full regular-season game,” Fiore said. “I think it just got sore from the extra workload. We ran a lot of plays the first couple games. It’s just something we have to take care of and try to rest so it doesn’t hurt more … I feel like I’m going to play. I played last week, and I did fine.”

Coach Steve Spurrier, who has said this week he wants to get his backups on the field more often, wasn’t ready yesterday to commit to Fiore as his starter.



“He’s expected to suit up and be ready to play. Whether or not he’ll start, we’ll wait and see,” Spurrier said. “But Derrick Dockery is slated to play quite a bit this week. We think he’s ready to play some now, so there’s a good chance both of them will play during the game.”

Dockery, the Redskins’ third-round draft pick from Texas, saw extensive action in the preseason but has yet to make his regular-season debut. The coaching staff has been impressed with the 6-foot-6, 345-pounder’s technique and ability to adjust to the pro game.

“He’s a young guy, a talented guy,” offensive line coach Kim Helton said. “I think he’ll do fine.”

The soft-spoken Dockery, a tackle in college, has spent the majority of his time working at guard and says he is comfortable at the inside position.

“If I get in there, I just want to play to the same level as when Dave is in there,” Dockery said. “I don’t want there to be a drop-off when I go in.”

Bad numbers, good results

Bryan Barker’s punting numbers through three weeks don’t look all that inspiring. His 37.5-yard gross average is tied for worst in the league, and his 27.8-yard net average is the worst.

Those numbers don’t tell the whole story, though. Of Barker’s 15 punts, eight have come from inside the 50-yard line, meaning he’s mostly trying to drop the ball inside the 20 (he’s accomplished that five times).

“If I kick a 29-yard punt that’s downed at the 7-yard line, statistically that was horrible,” said Barker, a 14-year veteran who had to win a preseason battle to keep his job. “But for field position and for winning, that’s wonderful. I look at the numbers, but the numbers are not always indicative of your performance.”

Redskins coaches are satisfied with Barker’s performance thus far.

“We’ve punted from midfield so many times this year, Bryan’s average is not going to be very good,” Spurrier said. “But he can catch it and get it out of there, so he’s doing fine.”

Trotter skeptical

Linebacker Jeremiah Trotter said he didn’t take ex-teammate and childhood friend Wilbert Brown seriously when Brown said he would “cut” block Redskins defenders if given the chance this week.

“I know Wilbert, and he’s joking,” Trotter said of Brown, who was released by Washington and signed by New England. “Everybody who knows Wilbert knows he’s joking. He tells me every day before practice that he’s going to cut me. So you can’t take that seriously.”

Brown’s comments came in response to accusations by Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington that the Patriots were deliberately trying to injure defenders during the Aug. 16 preseason game. Washington nose tackle Brandon Noble blew out his knee when he was hit high and low by a pair of New England linemen.

Extra points

Tight end Zeron Flemister (strained Achilles’ tendon) returned to practice yesterday and is expected to play Sunday for the first time since the season opener. … Trotter and defensive end Bruce Smith both sat out practice yesterday to rest sore knees but will start Sunday. …

Arrington took blame for not doing his part to pump up teammates before last Sunday’s loss to the Giants in which the Redskins spotted New York a 21-3 lead before rallying to send the game to overtime.

“Usually I’m the one that’s hootin’ and hollerin’ and trying to get guys pumped up,” Arrington said. “I stayed subdued myself, thinking that it was going to be a long game, conserve your energy. But in the end, if it takes a long time for your team to warm up, then what was I saving my energy for?”

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