The Inside Slant

Every player faces the question: should he play hurt or not? And every week it seems a few Redskins must answer it. For most of the season, tackle Chris Samuels has said yes. So he's played hurt. But now it appears the injuries have caught up to him and he'll miss Sunday's game against the Colts.

Brenden Stai hoped for a miracle last week, but couldn't play against Green Bay, causing him great angst as he watched the game from home. Stai, too, is very doubtful for Sunday.

At some point an injury becomes too much to bear. So the question is: when does a player decide to sit out?

''It's a tough question to answer,'' Stai said. ''It's all based on the situation. If you're hurt and keep going and hurting yourself, yet you're still a benefit to the team, then it's OK. If you're hurting yourself and the team, there's a fine line you have to draw. It comes down to the individual.

''It has to be a pretty significant injury. It has to be something where every play it's hurting you, something that limits your potential of doing the job you have to do.''

During the Saints game, Stai said he didn't remember half the plays because he was in so much pain.

''It's just one of those days where adrenaline keeps you going,'' he said. ''That's all it was for me in that game. I hope I don't have to feel that anymore. You notice the pain after a play. You get up or you're done running and the adrenaline slows and it starts to wear on you mentally. Then you have to get yourself back within 20 seconds to do it again and forget about the pain. And you have that whole situation for 70 plays.''

Welcome to Samuels' world. He's faced some type of ailment in every game--and says the first game was the worst when he had a stomach ailment, which caused problems throughout the week and left his stomach in great pain throughout the game. He played and never complained.

This is where players earn their money.

''Your mindset is to just win so you block out the pain,'' Samuels said. ''That's just part of being a tough guy out there. You get extra wrapping on it. At times it will hurt, especially if someone falls on it.

''Week to week you just have to suck it up and go, unless you can get some pretty good pain killers to get you through. And that only helps out a little bit, but not too much.''

Defensive end Renaldo Wynn has played all year with a bad knee, which he says forces him to abandon certain moves because the pain is too great. He figures the pain comes with the territory and his blue collar Chicago roots demand that he continue.

So he does.

''I won't let an injury stop me,'' Wynn said. ''I'm not a guy who will lay down. I could make it worse. I'm dealing with the unknown right now. Today I'm having one of my better days. Is the knee totally without pain? No. But it's not to the point where it's unbearable.

''Hopefully no one will hit it. This past week someone fell on my knee and I was like, 'Oh, man.' It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. It was a blessing that it didn't get any worse.''

For now, that is. And when it does, Wynn will have a choice to make.

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