- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Washington Redskins right guard Randy Thomas underwent an MRI on Monday night after he aggravated his strained neck in practice that afternoon. Although the test showed no serious injury, there is some concern within the organization.

Thomas apparently suffered the setback when he tried to hit a blocking sled. Team officials were pleased the MRI revealed no further injury. However, Thomas sat out practice yesterday, and his status for Friday’s preseason finale against the Atlanta Falcons remains in doubt.

“I think it’s just soft tissue,” coach Joe Gibbs said yesterday. “We’re just going to have to wait it out and see how quickly he can bounce back from it.”

The initial injury occurred last week when Thomas was lifting weights. Yesterday he played down any pain, saying the strain might heal suddenly the same way a pulled muscle in his rib cage did a few weeks ago.

“Muscles, you never know,” Thomas said. “Sometimes the best way to heal them is to play through them because if you rest, it gets worse. Like my side, I had to play through it to heal it.”

The status of Thomas is particularly important because right tackle Jon Jansen already is lost for the season and left tackle Chris Samuels is hobbled with a sprained ankle.

Asked whether he feels pressure to return soon, Thomas replied: “I’m going to be there. They’re counting on me to be there. Regardless of what the test said, I was going to be out there.”

CB Brown cut

The Redskins met yesterday’s 65-player deadline with what might have been the most surprising departure of their first round of cuts — cornerback Ralph Brown.

Brown, a fourth-year pro out of Nebraska, signed a two-year, $1.4 million contract this spring to compete for the third corner role against Walt Harris and Rashad Bauman. The deal included a $250,000 signing bonus.

Despite injuries that have kept Harris and Bauman sidelined a good part of the preseason, Brown failed to impress. He particularly struggled in Friday’s 28-3 loss at St. Louis. Yesterday assistant head coach for defense Gregg Williams said Brown had fallen behind several young corners.

“To his credit, it has nothing to do with what he did or didn’t do,” Williams said. “It’s just that we’ve had some young guys jump up, and instead of waiting until the last cut, I want him to get in there and get situated with somebody else.”

Which “young guys” might Williams be referencing? Rufus Brown, an undrafted rookie out of Florida State, has received a fairly steady stream of praise from the coach.

“Rufus has been battling really hard,” Williams said. “He’s one of our quickest, most ballistic movement guys.”

Gibbs lauds Vick

Back when Gibbs was a minority owner of the Falcons, he got a good look at the incredible talent of Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick, who is expected to play Friday after sitting out Atlanta’s most recent exhibition with a hamstring injury.

“I’ve got to tell you: I don’t know of a more gifted athlete,” Gibbs said. “I saw him play one game in college, and I said I thought he was probably the best college player I had ever seen. Everybody talks about how well he runs, but when he throws the ball, it’s literally — that. It’s a flick. And he can get rid of it in a hurry.

“Anybody who looks at the guy would have to say that he’s one of the most gifted athletes in a world [where] there’s a lot of gifted people.”

Extra points

Redskins fans can expect no change in owner Dan Snyder’s involvement with the team despite his plans to become involved in running Six Flags.

In a story first reported by the Wall Street Journal, Snyder has amassed nearly a 9 percent stake in the struggling theme-park operator and plans to revamp its marketing. Snyder’s Redskins duties include contract negotiations and salary-cap management.

“This will have no impact on his time with the Redskins,” team spokesman Karl Swanson said. “He’ll still do what he’s doing here.” …

Awards for the team’s 2003 players of the year were given out at the Welcome Home Luncheon. Wide receiver Laveranues Coles won on offense, cornerback Fred Smoot on defense and kicker John Hall on special teams. …

Gibbs remained mum on how he plans to balance playing-time and injury concerns in the Falcons game. Preseason finales often see starters play only a quarter to guard against injuries, but Washington has some performance concerns exiting its blowout loss at St. Louis.

“I don’t know what the balance is,” Gibbs said. “You just do the best you can.”

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