- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 3, 2006

An MRI on the right groin of Washington Redskins cornerback Shawn Springs revealed no tears or evidence of a sports hernia, director of sports medicine Bubba Tyer said yesterday. But Springs is unlikely to practice today, and his status remains unknown for Saturday’s NFC wild-card game at Tampa Bay.

Springs injured his groin at Arizona in Week 14 but played the entire game in subsequent wins over Dallas and the New York Giants. He aggravated the injury in the second quarter Sunday against Philadelphia and did not return.

“There was nothing that stood out,” Tyer said. “He has pain in his groin area and his lower right abdomen. The MRI showed the groin muscle is strained and that whole area is inflamed. We just have to work with it and treat him. We’ll know better in the next couple days, but he’s a tough guy, and he’s responded [to treatment] in the past and played with the same injury.”

Springs has been the Redskins’ best cover corner since the beginning of the 2004 season. This season he has 51 tackles, one interception and 14 pass breakups in 15 games.

Meanwhile, rookie corner Carlos Rogers (biceps) is expected to return after missing the final three regular-season games.

“As a whole, we haven’t been healthy the whole year,” safety Ryan Clark said of the Redskins’ secondary. “You plug guys in and play. Christian Morton did a stand-up job for us last week, and our staff preaches that nobody is a backup. Carlos will be back, so that’s a plus. These are the playoffs — there isn’t any time for excuses.”

Tyer said middle linebacker Lemar Marshall (shoulder sprain) would practice today and quarterback Mark Brunell’s sprained right knee continues to improve.

Unfavorable numbers

When coach Joe Gibbs says the odds are “stacked against” the Redskins in the playoffs, he wasn’t kidding.

Since the 12-team playoff format was instituted in 1990, none of the 30 Super Bowl participants has been a fifth or sixth seed. The Redskins are the No.6 NFC seed this season.

Only two teams seeded fifth or sixth — Indianapolis in 1995 and Jacksonville in 1996 — reached the conference title game.

Teams with a first-round bye have the best chance to reach the Super Bowl. Since 1990, 25 teams seeded first or second have won their conference.

In the Redskins’ favor is that they have won their last six opening-round games.

Clayton likely out

Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden said receiver Michael Clayton (turf toe) is unlikely to play Saturday. Clayton also missed the Buccaneers’ 36-35 win over the Redskins in Week 10 because of injury. Last year he had 80 catches for 1,193 yards and seven touchdowns but has been limited to 32 catches for 372 yards this season.

“We certainly miss him,” Gruden said. “We counted on much bigger things from this year, but he’s had a rough sophomore year. We hope Edell Shepherd and Ike Hilliard can play as well as they did against the Redskins the first time [a combined six catches for 124 yards and two touchdowns].”

Gruden said the Bucs would have “four, five guys” on their injury report when it’s released today. Starting strong safety Jermaine Phillips missed the New Orleans game with a knee injury.

Peeking ahead …

A victory over Tampa Bay would send the Redskins to No.1 seed Seattle for a 4:30 p.m. kickoff Saturday, Jan. 14.

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