- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 25, 2004

In an inevitable and anticlimactic move, the Washington Redskins put linebacker Mike Barrow on injured reserve yesterday, ending a season that never began.

Barrow, who is battling severe tendinitis in his left knee, was long since replaced by young linebacker Antonio Pierce. An up-and-coming four-year pro, Pierce leads the team with 107 tackles and has done a superb job handling the calls in Gregg Williams’ second-ranked defense.

Nonetheless, Barrow’s inability to get healthy — he was sidelined the first week of training camp and never recovered — signals another major personnel misstep by the Redskins. In addition to signing Barrow to a six-year, $15.1 million contract, which included a $2.5 million signing bonus, the club last spring acquired now-benched quarterback Mark Brunell for a third-round pick and gave him a seven-year, $43 million contract.

Yesterday’s decision with Barrow followed final conversations among Gibbs and other team officials and then between Gibbs and Barrow. The linebacker, Gibbs said, still couldn’t provide a firm timetable for his return despite spending weeks in a strange limbo that usually had him listed “questionable” on the injury report.

“We had gone about 15 weeks total,” Gibbs said. “We kept talking and hoping. I think he saw every expert in America. It was one of those things where I didn’t feel like he was getting a lot better. … It was something we hated, but it’s something we needed to deal with.”

The Redskins hope Barrow recovers during the offseason. He isn’t expected to undergo surgery because, Gibbs said, “from what I can understand, you can’t operate on it.” The coach admitted that, in retrospect, the move to IR should have been made “13 weeks ago.”

“Our problem was, honestly, we were hoping we’d be able to get him [healthy] at some point this year,” Gibbs said. “I think the medical team and everybody was kind of baffled by what happened there.”

Linebacker Chris Clemons, a Redskins undrafted rookie in 2003, was signed from the Cleveland Browns’ practice squad to replace Barrow.

Notes — Kicker John Hall (groin) participated in practice and remains on a tentative course to return Sunday from a five-game absence. He is questionable. Defensive tackles Cornelius Griffin (hip) and Jermaine Haley (knee) didn’t practice, not a good sign given the stout rushing attack the Pittsburgh Steelers will feature at Heinz Field this weekend. Griffin is questionable, while Haley is doubtful. …

The Redskins will practice this morning and then take the rest of the day off for the Thanksgiving holiday. The workout will include simulated crowd noise from giant speakers.

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