- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Winners of five consecutive games, the Washington Redskins will enter their wild-card playoff game against Tampa Bay on a roll.

And a limp.

The Redskins, who clinched their first postseason berth in six seasons with a 31-20 win over Philadelphia on Sunday, were given yesterday and today off, but several prominent players — including quarterback Mark Brunell and cornerback Shawn Springs — spent time at Redskin Park.

Brunell was a shaky 9-for-25 against the Eagles playing on a sprained right knee, and Springs left the game for good at halftime after aggravating a groin injury.

Coach Joe Gibbs said last night Brunell came out of the game “amazingly well” health-wise but expressed concern with Springs’ injury, which likely will keep him out of practice the entire week.

Springs said his groin felt “bad, but at this time of the year, what can you do?”

Brunell did not make himself available to reporters a day after one of the worst statistical games of his career. He completed just 36 percent of his passes, which was the lowest ratio of his career in a game in which he had more than 20 attempts.

Yet Gibbs and the offensive coaches thought enough of Brunell’s effort to give him the weekly Tough Guy Award.

“He did a heck of a job for us,” Gibbs said. “He came out of the game amazingly well, and he was certainly a tough guy. He didn’t have a lot to work with early, but he scrambled and made some throwaways to keep us out of big messes.”

The Redskins had four three-and-outs in the first half and trailed 17-10. They opened the second half with a 72-yard touchdown drive. But they finished with 279 yards of offense, their fourth-lowest total of the season.

“They surprised us with some coverages, and [Brunell] missed and overthrew a couple things that were open, and he’d be the first to tell you that,” Gibbs said. “It’s happened to the offense and to him this year when things don’t start well, but then they catch fire and do some things to win the game. Hopefully, he’ll be able to take some work this week because we’ll need to start this game absolutely sharp.”

The Redskins have confidence in Brunell even if he is less than 100 percent.

“Mark’s a guy that’s been through it,” defensive end Renaldo Wynn said. “He knows how to win, and he’s not going to hurt you. He’s going to make the plays he has to make when he needs to make them. He’s heady enough to get himself out of different binds. He obviously doesn’t have the athletic ability he once had, but he has good awareness.”

However, the Redskins remain banged up at cornerback. Only Ade Jimoh has played in every game, and the top four corners — Springs, Carlos Rogers, Walt Harris and Jimoh — have played in the same game only eight times. Harris and Christian Morton (promoted from the practice squad last week) were the top two corners in the second half of the Eagles game.

“It’s a concern, but it’s been amazing all year that when guys go down, somebody else has stepped in and filled a key role,” Harris said. “Hopefully, we can get guys back, but our motto has always been, ‘One guy goes down, we have to fill the hole.’”

Rogers’ left biceps injury has kept him out of three games, but he said he will play Saturday.

“I could have played [against Philadelphia], but they wanted to give me another week off so I wouldn’t mess it up really bad,” he said.

Springs sustained groin and back injuries against Arizona in Week 14 but played through the pain against Dallas and the Giants. He said he aggravated the injury against Philadelphia when he tried to make a cut.

“There was pain in my groin and back, and I knew it — I tried to go but couldn’t,” he said.

Jimoh got a scare when he said he felt fatigued in the second half and was carted to the locker room. He was cleared by team doctors to practice and play this week.

Williams watch

Six teams — Minnesota, Detroit, Green Bay, Houston, Kansas City and St. Louis — are looking for a head coach, and those organizations can contact teams to talk to assistants even if they are involved in the playoffs. Assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams’ name has been linked to several of the openings.

“We’ll deal with it when it happens,” Gibbs said. “I have a good understanding with all of our coaches, and I certainly think we have guys, if a team is looking for a head coach, we’ve got some good candidates. We don’t want them to leave, and we hope they stay, but we also understand that things come up and they might want to consider them.”

Moss second, Portis fourth

Moss finished second in the NFL in receiving yards with 1,483, 80 behind Carolina’s Steve Smith. Moss was 10th in receptions with 84, and his average of 17.7 was second among the top 50 receivers, trailing only Terry Glenn of Dallas.

Running back Clinton Portis finished fourth in rushing yards with 1,516. As a reward, he took several offensive linemen to lunch yesterday.

2006 schedule set

The Redskins’ 2006 schedule was finalized with St. Louis’ win over Dallas on Sunday night. The Redskins will have six games against 2005 playoff teams, including four against division winners, and will have nine against teams with winning records in 2005.

Home: Dallas, New York Giants, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Atlanta, Carolina, Tennessee, Jacksonville.

Road: Dallas, New York Giants, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, New Orleans, Houston, Indianapolis.

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