- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Clinton Portis won’t get a chance to become the first NFL running back to gain 1,500 yards in three straight seasons to start his career. His season has ended because of a torn pectoral muscle.

And he isn’t the only Washington Redskin who will miss Sunday’s season finale against Minnesota. Linebacker LaVar Arrington and reserve corner Ade Jimoh are done for the year because of respective knee and ankle ailments.

Still, the news wasn’t all bad for the Redskins; cornerback Fred Smoot still might play Sunday even though he woke up in a Dallas hospital yesterday.

Portis, who was hurt in the third quarter of the Redskins’ 13-10 loss to the Cowboys on Sunday, finished with 1,315 yards, 117 shy of Stephen Davis’ team record. Redskins director of sports medicine Bubba Tyer said Portis won’t need surgery but likely would have missed several games if the season weren’t ending.

“It’s real painful,” Portis said.

Smoot bruised his right side and mildly bruised a kidney in a collision with safety Sean Taylor. When Smoot began throwing up on the sideline, he was taken to Parkland Memorial Hospital for tests. He was released yesterday and was back at Redskin Park in the afternoon but was still in enough pain to decline comment to reporters, a rarity for the team chatterbox.

Tyer said Smoot will be re-evaluated during the week but is doubtful for the Vikings.

“We won’t risk anything,” coach Joe Gibbs said. “If Fred can’t play, he won’t play. If he feels like he’s 100 percent, he’ll play.”

If Smoot can’t play, veteran Walt Harris will start for the second time in three weeks. And with Jimoh out after spraining an ankle in the fourth quarter in Dallas, rookie Garnell Wilds, who has played in just one game, is in line to be the third corner against the Vikings’ second-ranked passing attack. Gibbs said the Redskins would promote rookie corner Rufus Brown from the practice squad if necessary.

Gibbs said the absence of Smoot and Jimoh hamstrung the defense when the Cowboys drove 75 yards in nine plays without any timeouts to score the winning touchdown with 30 seconds left.

“We’ve been so good in those situations because we put a lot of pressure on [offenses], but the fact that we had lost two corners limited a lot of what Gregg [Williams, the assistant head coach for defense] was able to call,” Gibbs said. “We got trapped into some coverages that didn’t give you a lot of flexibility.”

Arrington’s problem isn’t pain; it’s weakness in his right leg. Arrington was barely on the field in Dallas after playing 25 to 30 snaps in his return to action the week before in San Francisco. He missed 11 weeks following arthroscopic surgery on his right knee and post-operative complications.

Tyer said surgeon James Andrews, who operated on Arrington, examined him after the Dallas game and recommended he not play this week. Tyer said tendinitis in the knee is preventing the muscles in Arrington’s quadriceps from “firing” properly.

“I have no legs,” said Arrington, whose last three seasons ended in the Pro Bowl. “The strength in my legs isn’t there. … I don’t want to hurt the team.”

Notes — Other than likely having to replace Smoot and Portis, who had started all 15 games, Gibbs doesn’t plan to give his backups any more playing time against the Vikings even though the Redskins have been eliminated from playoff contention.

“This team has fought all year long, and I see no reason why we won’t go out and fight hard this weekend,” Gibbs said. “We’re going to try to win the game. Our deal is we always try to win every game.” …

Despite Antonio Brown’s fumble on a fourth-quarter punt return, Gibbs said the Redskins won the special teams battle against the Cowboys, marking the first such victory in many weeks.

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