ASHBURN, Va. -- During a news conference in which he discussed three more season-ending injuries and revealed discouraging news about three other players, Washington Redskins coach Jim Zorn was hit with a coughing fit. He needed a drink to help him continue.
"Sorry about my voice," he said.
Maybe it's time to put some bubble wrap around this team. No one, it seems, is safe.
Add Ladell Betts, Chad Rinehart and Eddie Williams to the injured reserve list. Also, don't expect Clinton Portis to return from his concussion for at least one more game and maybe two. Chris Cooley won't even get out of his walking boot for another 10 days, and DeAngelo Hall has a sprained knee that could cause him to miss the next game.
"Brutal. Brutal. It's been brutal," said Rock Cartwright, a third-string running back who's now the first-stringer with Portis and Betts out. "Hate to lose a guy like Ladell. Hate to lose a guy like Rinehart. We lost a lot of key guys we planned on having for the season."
The injuries are a downer from a loss that all but buries the Redskins (3-7) in the NFC East cellar. A victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday would have pulled Washington within two games of first place and kept some hope alive. But a late touchdown resulted in a 7-6 loss that puts the battered team well behind the pack and without much manpower to get through the final six weeks.
"It's something that I've never been around," Zorn said. "I've been on some teams that had injuries, but these are injuries that are IR-type of injuries, and we've had a lot of them. ... It's pretty bad, but the thing that's amazing is we played the team that's leading the division and we went toe to toe with who we had."
Appropriately, Zorn opened his news conference by saying: "We have some painful things that we have to talk about." Here are the player-by-player details:
» Betts will have surgery after tearing the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee during the first quarter Sunday, ending his season just as he was receiving his first substantial playing time since 2006. Now the running back duties fall to Cartwright, who will make his first start since 2003 this weekend against the Philadelphia Eagles.
» Portis will miss his third consecutive game this weekend and possibly a fourth the following week against the New Orleans Saints. Portis, who has seen multiple specialists about the concussion he suffered during a Nov. 8 game against the Atlanta Falcons, made a brief appearance in the locker room Monday, but he didn't speak to reporters. Asked if the staff was talking about shutting down Portis for the season, Zorn said: "No. Not right now."
» With Portis and Betts out, the Redskins brought back Marcus Mason, who was cut last month after receiving a handful of carries early in the season. He'll join Quinton Ganther as Cartwright's backup.
» Right guard Chad Rinehart, making his fourth career start Sunday, broke his right leg early in the third quarter after Cowboys linebacker Anthony Spencer rolled on it. Rinehart had surgery Monday. Like Betts, Rinehart was substituting for another injured player, but now he'll join offensive linemen Chris Samuels and Randy Thomas on injured reserve. Unless Mike Williams sufficiently recovers from a sprained ankle this week, undrafted rookie Edwin Williams will receive the call at right guard against the Eagles and become the 10th Redskins offensive lineman to start a game this season.
» The Redskins hoped Cooley would miss just three games or so after breaking his right ankle during an Oct. 26 game against the Eagles. However, doctors who examined the tight end Monday said he will have to wear a protective boot for another 10 days, followed by a rehabilitation period of undetermined length. "That is not good news for me," Zorn said. "That will set us back a little bit with him." The coach said the new timetable could make Cooley a candidate for injured reserve.
» Hall sprained an MCL against the Cowboys. He continued to play, but Zorn said Monday that the team's top cornerback "may be out for a week."
» Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, who missed the Dallas game, continues to work on the treadmill to regain the strength in his sprained ankle. Zorn didn't venture a prediction whether Haynesworth will play against the Eagles.
» Fullback Eddie Williams, a seventh-round draft pick, had surgery after breaking his leg during practice Friday. The injury doesn't have much of an impact -- Williams hasn't been active for a game this season -- but it shows just how things are going for the Redskins.
"Um," Zorn said, having exhausted his list, "I guess I can say everything else is minor."
In the locker room, players looked for silver linings. Backups have a chance to step up and show their stuff. Asked how the constant shuffling will affect the offensive line's on-field chemistry, Mike Williams shrugged.
"We've played with everybody," he answered. "So it's really no, 'Well, can y'all get into rhythm.' We've shuffled everybody in. That's not an issue, believe it or not."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press