- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 24, 2009

His roster flexibility further crippled during another disheartening defeat, Washington Redskins coach Jim Zorn opened his news conference Monday with a line that best exhibits the team’s 3-7 season.

“Again, we have some painful things that we have to talk about,” said Zorn, who spent five minutes discussing the Redskins’ numerous injuries.

When the Redskins entered their bye week last month, they knew the schedule was becoming more difficult and they would have to overcome season-ending injuries to Chris Samuels and Randy Thomas and the long-term absence of Chris Cooley.

But who could have predicted a second wave of injuries would develop during the first three games of a challenging five-week gauntlet that initially featured three division leaders and two wild-card contenders?

“It’s been brutal,” running back Rock Cartwright said.

Having already seen safety Chris Horton, running back Clinton Portis and defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth go down during the two games since their off week, the Redskins confirmed running back Ladell Betts (ACL and MCL tears) and right guard Chad Rinehart (broken leg) are done for the season and cornerback DeAngelo Hall (MCL sprain) might be out for Sunday’s game at Philadelphia.

If Hall is sidelined, he would be the 16th player to miss a game because of injury.

Rinehart underwent surgery to insert a plate and screws to stabilize his fibula, and Betts is headed for the operating room later this week, becoming the ninth Redskins player to have surgery since the end of training camp.

“It’s something I’ve never been around,” Zorn said. “I’ve been on some teams that had injuries, but these are injuries that are [injured reserve]-type of injuries, and we’ve had a lot of them and they’ve been unfortunate.”

Said linebacker London Fletcher: “Injuries happen to every team in the NFL. Obviously, we’ve had more than our fair share of them. But the thing is nobody’s going to feel sorry for us. The game’s still going to be played on Sunday. They’re not going to cancel the season.”

Indeed, every team in the NFL is dealing with its share of injuries at this point of the season. Philadelphia (6-4) has six players on injured reserve, including two middle linebackers and a starting offensive lineman. New Orleans, which visits the Redskins on Dec. 5, has 11 players on IR.

Still, few teams have been impacted like the Redskins.

Washington put Betts, Rinehart and fullback Eddie Williams (broken leg) on injured reserve, bringing its total to seven this year.

The Redskins’ three Pro Bowl from 2008 players have missed a combined 10 games. Samuels isn’t coming back, and it’s appearing more and more likely that Portis and Cooley won’t be available.

Portis already has been ruled out against Philadelphia.

“There is going to be question about whether he will play against New Orleans,” Zorn said. “During the week, we’ll get him moving and see how his concussion is reacting.”

Cooley visited his surgeon Monday and will remain in a cast for an additional 10 days, clearly a blow to his expectation of missing just four or five games.

“That’s not good news for me,” Zorn said. “That sets us back. We haven’t talked with [the doctor] about after the boot is off how long the rehab is going to be. The bone is healing. It’s just not far enough along.”

Haynesworth and Mike Williams (both ankle injuries) are working their way back. Zorn said Haynesworth will continue to do work on the treadmill to rebuild strength in both ankles that have been sprained this year.

Zorn acknowledged that he expects the Redskins to keep playing hard even if it means calling on less experienced or less proven players.

“I’ll talk about this in years to come, saying, ‘Wow, remember back in 2009,’ ” Zorn said. “It’s pretty bad. The thing that’s amazing - we played the team that’s leading the division [Dallas], and we went toe to toe with who we had. At that particular time, it didn’t matter. Even though we had a few guys go down, we still had a chance to win the game. The guys we’ve got will step up.”

For now, those guys will have to be Cartwright, rookie right guard Edwin Williams and - if Haynesworth and Hall remain sidelined - defensive tackle Kedric Golston and starter-turned-spectator Carlos Rogers.

“It’s the opportunity for somebody else to step up and play - that’s the way you have to look at it,” Fletcher said. “We can’t get caught up in all the things that aren’t going well for us. We have to come out prepared, practice well and prepare for a really good Philadelphia team in their place.”

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