- The Washington Times - Monday, November 21, 2005

The Washington Redskins’ league-leading kick coverage units won’t have two of their top performers for Sunday’s game against the San Diego Chargers.

Special teams captain Mike Sellers was released from Washington Hospital Center yesterday with a hairline fracture of a rib and will not play. James Thrash also will be sidelined because of a pulled right hamstring. Both were injured in Washington’s 16-13 loss to the Oakland Raiders, a defeat that dropped the faltering Redskins to 5-5.

“We suffered some injuries there, and we’re going to have to do a good job of figuring out what’s the best thing for us to do,” coach Joe Gibbs said. “Kick returner is something we’ve got to struggle with. We’ve gone over a number of options. We’ll have a better feel tomorrow.”

Sellers also serves as the Redskins’ reserve H-back — a role that hasn’t prevented him from becoming the team’s leading scorer, with six touchdowns on just 11 touches on offense. Brian Kozlowski figures to take many of his snaps there.

Sellers declined to comment, but he’s lucky that he wasn’t more seriously hurt from the blow to the back he took from the helmet of the Raiders’ Isaiah Ekejiuba.



“They were concerned because Mike had a tough time breathing right after the game,” Gibbs said. “He’s extremely sore. We feel very fortunate that we didn’t get something like he broke a bunch of ribs.”

It was a rough day for Sellers, who was set to have a police escort to the airport in the wake of a death in his family. His travel plans were interrupted by his hospitalization. And he made Gibbs wince by sneaking onto the field to go after Ekejiuba, drawing a 10-yard penalty.

“We told Mike he was out [for the rest of the game] and the next thing we know, we look up and he’s back in there,” Gibbs said. “Mike’s a real competitor. It was his spot, and he felt like he could go. But you’ve got to control yourself. You can’t put yourself before the team. He was so geared up. And it cost us.”

Thrash will be replaced as the third wideout by Jimmy Farris, who re-signed yesterday. Receiver Rich Parson, who made his NFL debut against the Raiders, will return to the practice squad.

Thrash hasn’t missed a game since 1998. Farris, who played mostly on special teams for the Atlanta Falcons in 2003 and 2004, had two touchdowns among his six catches this preseason for Washington.

Farris, 27, had worked out for the Chargers and Falcons since being cut, but he hoped all along to return to Washington. “I felt this was the best fit. I’m excited to be here,” he said. “I hope I can contribute.”

Farris and Taylor Jacobs, who took over as the starter after David Patten had season-ending knee surgery last Friday, have caught a combined 30 passes in their five NFL seasons. That’s fewer than No. 1 receiver Santana Moss caught in the first five games this season.

Gibbs said the Redskins will consider signing another receiver. Veteran Kevin Dyson and kick returner Antonio Brown, both of whom were in camp with Washington, are possibilities.

Kick returner Ladell Betts is likely to miss a second straight game because of a sprained knee. That leaves the Redskins with Rock Cartwright (16 career returns) and rookie Nehemiah Broughton (one) for that duty.

Santana Moss is the punt returner in Thrash’s absence, with Shawn Springs as the next option. Springs hasn’t returned a punt during his nine seasons but does so during practice.

Defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin, out since the second snap of the Oct.30 loss to the New York Giants because of a strained hip flexor, is doubtful for Sunday as well. Demetric Evans has started in his place.

Patten, who missed the last 10 games of 2003 for New England with a similar meniscus tear, said his knee started to hurt in Week 2.

“It kept getting worse and it was starting to affect my play,” said Patten, who crashed from a career-high 18.2 yards per catch with the 2004 Patriots to a career-low 9.9 average on his 22 receptions this year. “That’s the last thing you want in your first year with the team. Even though it’s out of your control, you feel like you let your team down.”

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