- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 9, 2004

Washington Redskins defensive end Phillip Daniels was upbeat about his injured groin yesterday even though he “strained it real bad” in Sunday’s loss to the Detroit Lions and was unsure how many games he might miss.

Daniels, the starting right end when healthy, has battled abdominal and groin injuries since training camp and already has missed four games. But he had little trouble playing 50 snaps in the Oct. 31 loss to the Green Bay Packers and believed he was at full strength Sunday.

Instead, he felt a pop in his groin in the second quarter and had to exit one play later. But the fact that he felt relatively good yesterday morning had him optimistic even before the results of an MRI came in; they weren’t due until last night.

“Good news,” Daniels said. “It’s painful, but I don’t think I tore anything. … I will be back [this season].”

Daniels wouldn’t rule out playing Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, but that seems unrealistic. A clearer indication of his status should come today.

Daniels’ missed time, while significant, hasn’t prevented the Redskins from rising to No.1 in the NFL’s defensive rankings. Ron Warner and Demetric Evans have filled in well at right end.

Left defensive end Renaldo Wynn also was injured Sunday when he suffered a mild ankle sprain. Wynn’s ankle was in a boot at Redskin Park yesterday, but he’s expected to practice lightly tomorrow.

Among other injuries, kicker John Hall (groin) could miss another two-to-three weeks, according to trainer John Burrell. Linebacker Mike Barrow (knee) will suit up tomorrow, but it remains unclear whether he will be able to make his Redskins debut this weekend.

Failed challenges

Coach Joe Gibbs plans no changes to the Redskins’ replay procedure despite losing four consecutive challenges dating to the Sept. 27 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

A failed challenge that day sapped Washington’s final timeout, a problem that became critical when time expired with the Redskins in range for a game-tying field goal.

Washington came up dry on its latest challenge after Lions quarterback Joey Harrington completed a 6-yard pass to convert a third down. The Redskins, who retain rules specialist Larry Hill and station him in the booth during games, believed Harrington scrambled across the line of scrimmage before throwing. Harrington didn’t.

“To me, that will be a crapshoot all year,” Gibbs said. “In this case, the people upstairs and everybody, we talked it over and thought it was worth a challenge.”

The botched challenge wasn’t the Redskins’ only game-management problem Sunday. The team also called a timeout with 29 seconds left in the first half, helping Detroit, which was ready to let the clock run out, drive another 59 yards for a field goal.

Gibbs explained that coaches decided at the last moment not to call a timeout but that one unspecified player didn’t get the message.

Record load?

Running back Clinton Portis’ second game of more than 30 carries has him on pace to challenge the NFL single-season record.

Rushing 34 times for 147 yards against the Lions gave Portis 204 carries at the season’s midpoint. The league record is 410 carries by the Atlanta Falcons’ Jamal Anderson in 1998. Barring injury, Portis should have little trouble surpassing John Riggins’ 1983 team mark of 375.

Gibbs is unconcerned about Portis’ workload, saying the three-year pro shows no signs of wearing down.

Said Gibbs: “We’ve been talking about how many times he carries the ball, but if you look at him on the sideline, he never looks tired.”

Extra points

Safety Ryan Clark leads Washington in tackles since supplanting injured starter Matt Bowen in the Oct. 10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Clark has 41 tackles in the past four games; linebacker Antonio Pierce ranks second with 37. Sunday’s tackle totals (11 for Clark, six for Pierce) remain subject to coaches’ review of game tape.

Gibbs called Clark “absolutely phenomenal,” adding, “The guy’s throwing his body all over the place. He’s one of the best-prepared guys.”…

After 55 professional games with at least one catch, wide receiver Rod Gardner was shut out Sunday. Gardner did drop one pass but also was a victim of Gibbs permitting quarterback Mark Brunell to attempt just two throws in the second half.

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