Thursday, October 14, 2004

Washington Redskins kicker John Hall strained his right groin during practice yesterday, jeopardizing his availability for Sunday’s game at Chicago.

Hall isn’t expected to practice today, and team officials might have to make a game-day decision on his status. He was listed as questionable, meaning he has about a 50-50 chance of playing against the Bears.

The situation is similar to Week 2, when Hall battled a strained hamstring and the club signed kicker Ola Kimrin to the practice squad as insurance. Hall ultimately played against the New York Giants, though he strained his other hamstring that day.

Hall ostensibly has been healthy the past few weeks but hasn’t attempted a field goal longer than 31 yards since the Giants game. Yesterday he was unavailable for comment following his setback, which apparently came out of nowhere after Hall “warmed up good,” according to director of sports medicine Bubba Tyer.

“I think he was kicking field goals — I wasn’t out there,” Tyer said. “He kicked one, felt something, kicked another, and then he couldn’t kick after that.”

The Redskins held off on any moves last night as they waited to see how Hall would progress. Kimrin’s name was atop the list of considerations. Punter Tom Tupa also could do some kicking if Hall were injured during the game.

Arrington on fence

Linebacker LaVar Arrington conceded his right knee must improve before he’s cleared to play against the Bears. He participated in parts of team drills but didn’t have the mobility he needs to cover running backs.

“It felt better, but I still can’t run full speed,” said Arrington, who has missed the past three games after undergoing arthroscopic surgery. “If the game were today, I couldn’t go. I’ve got to get my speed up.”

Meanwhile, nose tackle Joe Salave’a was upgraded to probable after taking limited practice on his strained calf. Assistant head coach for defense Gregg Williams was confident the tough lineman, a big part of Washington’s second-ranked run defense, would be ready for the Bears.

“I’ve been with him before, and I’ve seen this same kind of thing when he was with the [Tennessee] Titans,” Williams said. “I bet he’ll make it.”

Defensive end Ron Warner (ankle) didn’t practice but could return today and be upgraded from questionable. Cornerback Shawn Springs (ankle) also didn’t work out but has no concerns about not playing against the Bears. Return man Chad Morton (knee) and defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin were rested.

Starting safety unclear

Williams declined to name a replacement for strong safety Matt Bowen, who is out for the season with a torn ACL.

The anticipated starter is Andre Lott, who started the first two weeks and is scheduled to return from a hamstring strain. But Ryan Clark impressed Sunday while Bowen and Lott were sidelined, recording 12 tackles and playing a key role in run support.

“We’re going to wait up until game time [to name a starter],” Williams said. “We’re going to play all those guys. And we have packages. Each one of them are starters in packages anyway. A lot of it will be what [the Bears] bring out there on the first play of the game.”

Williams has done an outstanding job of compensating for injuries. The Redskins rank third in total defense despite missing linebacker Mike Barrow all season and Arrington and defensive end Phillip Daniels the past three weeks.

Safety is one position in which Williams has used a variety of unheralded players —Lott, Clark and Todd Franz — with seemingly little drop-off in performance.

“The fact that we’ve played so many guys, it’s not like we’re going to throw somebody in there that doesn’t know what to do,” Williams said.

Extra points

Safeties coach Steve Jackson joked that Franz needs some extra tutelage if he’s going to keep intercepting passes. Franz made a terrific diving pick Sunday but ran awkwardly out of bounds on his 22-yard return.

“We’ve got to get him with [running backs] coach [Earnest] Byner and work on his running skills,” Jackson said. …

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the Redskins were not fined for leaving tackle Kenyatta Jones off the injury report in Week 2, when he was replaced in the starting lineup by Ray Brown, at least in part because of an ankle injury. Aiello said the league believes the Redskins will comply fully with injury report rules moving forward.

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