Monday, October 18, 2004

Despite having the bye week to rehabilitate, Washington Redskins kicker John Hall might not recover in time to play Oct. 31 against the Green Bay Packers.

Hall didn’t play in Sunday’s win at Chicago after straining his right groin in practice Thursday. Ola Kimrin filled in effectively after flying back from Sweden on a moment’s notice, hitting field goals from 41 and 26 yards.

The Redskins have two weeks to prepare for the Packers, but even that might not be enough time for Hall. Kimrin is being kept on the roster until further notice.

“I’d say somebody like John, we’re concerned about it,” coach Joe Gibbs replied when asked whether any players might be in jeopardy of missing the Packers game.

So many Redskins are nursing injuries that Gibbs called the bye week’s timing “perfect.” However, most players, notably Pro Bowl linebacker LaVar Arrington (knee), should be ready to go after the long break.

“I was cutting it close the last few games I thought,” said Arrington, who had held out hope of playing the past two weeks. “I don’t think there should be any doubt at all that I should be able to go for this upcoming game.”

Among the Redskins injured Sunday were running back Clinton Portis (neck), cornerback Fred Smoot (shoulders) and defensive end Renaldo Wynn (hamstring). All earned praise from Gibbs for playing through pain.

Sitting out Sunday, in addition to Hall and Arrington, were linebacker Mike Barrow (knee), defensive end Phillip Daniels (groin), tackle Kenyatta Jones (ankle) and safety Andre Lott (hamstring).

Gibbs plans to practice today and tomorrow and give players a four-day vacation at week’s end. Players like Arrington, Barrow, Daniels and Hall will remain in town for treatment through the weekend.

“We’re beat up right now,” Gibbs said. “We have a lot of guys with injuries. I’m going to give guys a long break away from here.”

Smoot’s left shoulder ailment was reclassified as a rotator cuff injury after he called it a mild separation Sunday. His other shoulder has a stinger. He expressed confidence he would play against the Packers, saying he will be “100 percent” by that point.

Third down’s a charm

By holding the Bears to 1-for-13 conversions on third down, Washington built a commanding NFL lead in defending such situations.

The Redskins have yielded only 19 conversions on 81 third downs this season, a 23.5 percent clip that is much better than any other club. The Miami Dolphins (28.2) and Cleveland Browns (28.6) are the only other defenses that have allowed conversions less than 30 percent of the time.

Linebacker Antonio Pierce explained that third-down defense is a big focus in meetings each Thursday. Redskins players are given extensive scouting reports at that time of what upcoming opponents do in such situations.

“Every team, when it comes to third down, they’ve got a pattern they’re going to do,” Pierce said. “We know as much as the coaches know. Everything they know they give us on a piece of paper and in our notebook every week. Then it’s up to the guys to study it.”

Overall, Washington’s defense moved up to No. 2 in the NFL, though it slid a notch to No. 3 against the run.

Soldier Field fracas

Radio color man Sam Huff was at the center of scuffle at the Bears game. Although the incident grew heated and Huff actually took a swing at a Bears fan, no contact was made, and the Hall of Fame linebacker yesterday was looking to move forward.

According to Huff and Sonny Jurgensen, the other color man on the WJFK-FM (106.7) broadcast, problems began when Huff asked several fans in front of the radio booth to stop waving their hats. The fans grew angry, and tensions quickly escalated. At one point, beer was thrown at Huff and Jurgensen. Eventually security removed the fans.

In an interview, Huff apologized for letting his emotions get the best of him. He added: “As far as I’m concerned, it’s over with. It’s too bad it happened.”

Extra points

Vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato said the Redskins weren’t looking at any potential trades before today’s 4 p.m. deadline. …

Gibbs conceded that the return game must improve. Kick returner Chad Morton gained just 1 yard on two punt returns Sunday and averaged only 19.3 yards on three kickoffs. He doesn’t rank among the NFC’s top eight in either category.

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