His deck reshuffled by injuries, Gibbs won't fold playoff hand Redskins coach eyes healthy finish

ASHBURN, VA. — ASHBURN, Va. -- On the last play of the Washington Redskins' 35-16 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, quarterback Mark Rypien lined up behind left guard Raleigh McKenzie.

"It wasn't because I got hit [and was woozy]. It's just that I'm used to him [at center]. It was an embarrassing moment. He was kicking me one over. At least, I didn't start calling the cadence," Rypien said yesterday.


That was just one more example of how the Redskins are out of sync because of all the injuries they've suffered this season.

McKenzie had started at center since the fifth game of the season when Jeff Bostic went out, but was forced to switch to left guard when Joe Jacoby was sidelined with a back injury. Rookie center Matt Elliott came in to replace McKenzie.


As the Redskins plan for next Monday night's game against the New Orleans Saints, they've decided to rest Jacoby this week and give Elliott his first start.

"We're going to hang our hat on some guys we're hoping and praying can make it through the week," Rypien said.

They're hoping the same five offensive linemen -- Elliott, McKenzie, Ed Simmons, Mark Schlereth and Ray Brown -- who finished last week's game can go the whole game so they don't have to switch during the game the way they've been forced to the past two weeks when Mo Elewonibi and Jacoby were hurt.

That's not the end of the team's injury problems, though.

They'll be missing both their starting cornerbacks against the Saints. Martin Mayhew broke his forearm against the Chiefs and Darrell Green, who broke his forearm in the second game of the season, isn't likely to be ready. Meanwhile, A. J. Johnson has a sore knee, so his status is uncertain for the Saints.

Alvoid Mays will start for Mayhew, and Johnny Thomas will go if Johnson can't start.

The Redskins also plan to bring in some free-agent cornerbacks for tryouts this week. They also may activate safety David Gulledge from the practice squad. If they make that move, linebacker Johnny Meads will likely be cut.

Meanwhile, the Redskins are uncertain about the status of linebacker Kurt Gouveia and safety Danny Copeland, who sprained their necks in a helmet-to-helmet collision two weeks ago and aggravated the injuries against the Chiefs.


The other players hurting are defensive lineman Fred Stokes (knee), running back Earnest Byner (neck) and cornerback Sidney Johnson (knee).

With the team at 6-4 and still in the battle for a wild-card playoff spot, coach Joe Gibbs' message to the players was that they've overcome tough times in the past and will try to do it again.

Four times in the past five years, they Redskins have been 6-4 or 5-5 at the 10-game mark. In 1988, the last time they were defending champions, they fell to 7-9. But in 1989 and 1990, they battled back to finish 10-6, and made the playoffs in '90.

"We need somebody to stand up and get something done for us here," Gibbs said.

He said that at the meeting with the players, laying everything out in a matter-of-fact manner. Ranting and raving is not his style.

"I think part of what we do is dealing with adversity," Gibbs said. "Football is a lot like life. I think the way you deal with adversity lots of times gives you the successes in the end. You have to overcome some tough things. We've certainly had some tough times around here.


"The way I try to deal with the ones we're having now, I look back on the ones we had in the past, [like] 0-5 [in his first year]. Most of times I've had adversity, if I handle it the right way, then chances are it'll be like all the other adversity. It's a matter of handling that."

* NOTE: Mayhew didn't tell the trainers his forearm was hurting until after the game. That's when they took X-rays and discovered he had broken it early in the game. He did tell assistant coach Richie Petitbon that it was hurting him to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage, so Petitbon told Mayhew to stop jamming the receivers. Gibbs called Mayhew one of the toughest players he has ever had.

Down the stretch

A look at how the Redskins have fared in their final six games each year under coach Joe Gibbs:

Year.. .. ..1st 10.. .. .. .. ...Last 6

1981.. .. .. 6-4.. .. .. .. .. .. ..4-2


1982.. .. .. .*.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .*

1983.. .. ...8-2.. .. .. .. .. .. ..6-0

1984.. .. .. 6-4.. .. .. .. .. .. ..5-1

1985.. .. ...5-5.. .. .. .. .. .. ..5-1

1986.. .. .. 8-2.. .. .. .. .. .. ..4-2

1987**.. .. .7-3.. .. .. .. .. .. ..4-1


1988.. .. ...6-4.. .. .. .. .. .. ..1-5

1989.. .. ...5-5.. .. .. .. .. .. ..5-1

1990.. .. .. 6-4.. .. .. .. .. .. ..4-2

1991.. .. ..10-0.. .. .. .. .. .. ..4-2

1992.. .. ...6-4

* Nine-game strike season


** Season lasted 15 games because one game was canceled because of a strike. Of the first 10 games, three were replacement games.