- The Washington Times - Friday, October 1, 2004

Laveranues Coles might have been playing with a dislocated finger Monday night, but the Washington Redskins wide receiver won’t use that as an excuse for what he admitted was a subpar performance.

“You should never make excuses about anything you do,” said Coles, who dropped three passes (two after dislocating his right middle finger) in the Redskins’ 21-18 loss to Dallas.

“If you’re man enough to go out there, you’re man enough to accept the consequences that come with being on the football field. That’s the way I play the game, and I feel like that’s the way everybody should play it. Just be man enough and say, ‘I made a mistake.’ There’s no excuses for it. You shouldn’t be out there if you can’t do it right.”

Washington coach Joe Gibbs had high praise for Coles this week after learning his star receiver played hurt for more than three quarters of Monday’s game without telling anyone. Upon dislocating his finger on an incomplete pass from Mark Brunell in the first quarter, Coles popped it back into place and went right back into the huddle.

“Sometimes you have to do what you have to do in the heat of battle,” the receiver said.

Though he won’t use it as an excuse, Coles’ finger clearly affected his play. He dropped two passes minutes after suffering the injury and finished with only five catches for 42 yards.

Playing in pain is nothing new for Coles. He surpassed 1,000 yards receiving last year despite a broken toe that still hasn’t fully healed. And he hasn’t missed a moment of practice this week as he aspires to regain his form Sunday at Cleveland.

“I feel personally like I let my team down last week,” he said. “I didn’t play as well as I wanted to. The finger had nothing to do with it. Everybody plays with nicks. I can’t wait till the next game.”

Hixon back to work

Stan Hixon is trying his best to keep his mind on football, but the Redskins wide receivers coach has more pressing concerns with his son still in a coma.

“Football is secondary,” Hixon said. “My son is my first responsibility and always will be.”

Drew Hixon, a receiver at Tennessee Tech, has been in a coma at a Tampa, Fla., hospital since suffering a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit in a Sept. 11 game at South Florida. Stan Hixon had been at his son’s side for the last three weeks but returned to the Redskins on Wednesday and is expected to be on the sideline for Sunday’s game.

Hixon said his son has shown steady signs of progress over the last three weeks — he’s breathing without a ventilator, his eyes are open and he’s responding to voices. Doctors plan to move Drew Hixon to Charlottesville next week, where he will continue to receive treatment at the University of Virginia.

“Each day, he’s gotten better and better,” Hixon said of his son, who interned with the Redskins this summer. “It was hard [to come back]. But I’ve been gone for so long, and he’s showing progress. He’s out of the critical situation. It’s just a matter of time right now.”

Portis, Davis reunite

Clinton Portis will have an opportunity to play against his old college coach, Butch Davis, Sunday in Cleveland. The two reportedly had a strained relationship at the University of Miami, stemming from Davis’ decision not to play Portis as a freshman. Davis also passed up the chance to draft the explosive running back two years later.

Portis, though, said he holds no grudges against his old coach.

“Everybody’s got their egos,” he said. “I can question at times, ‘Am I playing? Why wasn’t I playing?’ He was the coach. I was a freshman. He really didn’t want to take chances putting the team in my hands. There’s no hard feelings, no ill will. He’s happy, and I’m happy.”

Davis spoke highly of Portis during a conference call with Washington-area reporters Wednesday.

“From the very first moment you met him, you knew he had a tremendous amount of confidence and ability,” said Davis, who left Miami for the Browns in 2001. “You just knew he had explosive running skills and had the ability to make plays. He’s done that at every level he’s ever played.”

Extra points

Kick returner Chad Morton, still recovering from a sprained knee, sat out practice yesterday and appears unlikely to play Sunday. The team officially lists his status as questionable. Safety Matt Bowen (groin) did not practice but had his status elevated from questionable to probable. Linebacker Mike Barrow (knee) and safety Andre Lott (hamstring) did not practice and remain questionable. …

Mark Brunell is the 18th-rated passer in the NFL, but his 137.5 fourth-quarter rating is tops in the league.

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