- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said yesterday he expects injured defensive tackle Joe Salave’a to play against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday at FedEx Field.

Salave’a, suffering from a strained calf, said “they darn near” had to strap him down to prevent him from playing in the Redskins’ 31-15 victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday.

However, Salave’a wasn’t quite as optimistic as Gibbs about his chances of playing against the Jaguars.

“It was disappointing that I couldn’t play, but I’m glad we won,” said Salave’a, who was hurt Sept. 17 in Dallas and didn’t practice last week. “It’s better today, but we’ll just have to see how it goes this week. Until you hit someone, you really don’t know.”

Cornerback Shawn Springs, who strained his right groin Wednesday in his first day back in pads since abdominal surgery Aug. 15, doesn’t expect to play. Gibbs said the key factor will be whether the cornerback is on the field when the Redskins practice again tomorrow.

“I’m just rehabbing it and trying to get back,” said Springs, who originally was expected to miss four to six weeks. “I’m on my sixth week now. It takes time to get back from this one.”

Inspiring words

As practice ended Thursday, veteran guard Randy Thomas gathered his teammates around and delivered one of his usual impassioned speeches.

The Redskins were 0-2 and had shown little life in losses to the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys.

“Randy said stop feeling sorry for yourselves, get out of the fetal position, do something about it. We’ve got to work harder,” said a teammate, who asked to remain anonymous because those talks are supposed to remain private.

The Redskins certainly responded Sunday, dominating the hapless Texans.

Downplaying any part his words played in the victory, Thomas said, “We were going to play hard anyway.”

Brunell in stitches

Quarterback Mark Brunell set a franchise record with an 88.9 completion percentage (24-for-27) against the Texans, breaking the 65-year-old mark set by Hall of Famer Sammy Baugh.

Brunell required a couple of stitches to his left elbow afterward. He was injured when he was blocked during the Texans’ return of a fumble by Rock Cartwright.

“[An infection] is what they’re concerned about, so I’m making sure it stays clean and there’s no infection,” said Brunell, who ranks second in the NFC with a 67.0 completion percentage. “A few stitches and hopefully it gets better.”

Gibbs said the Redskins are worried about swelling and a buildup of fluid in the elbow because a similar but more severe injury sidelined Brunell for more than two months during his last season in Jacksonville.

Gibbs said Brunell could miss practice time this week, though neither swelling nor fluid buildup has occurred.

Meanwhile, Brunell, linebacker Marcus Washington and punter Derrick Frost received the first coveted designated parking spaces of the year at Redskin Park. Gibbs awards them after victories.

Good soldier

Running back T.J. Duckett, who was acquired from the Atlanta Falcons for two draft picks in August when Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts were hurt, was listed as inactive for Sunday’s game against the Texans and has been used sparingly this season.

Duckett dressed but did not play in the season opener against the Vikings and carried five times for 24 yards against the Cowboys. His contract expires after the season, but his value will decline if he remains little-used by the Redskins. The Falcons, meanwhile, lead the league in rushing without him.

“I was definitely surprised,” said Duckett, who was scratched in order to keep three tight ends active. “Of course, [not playing] eats at me. You want to play. But it’s a team sport. You have to be a team player. Everything off the field would give me a headache if I thought about it every day.”

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