Those persistent Pollyannas, the Raiders, were playing the old good news-bad news game with Steve Beuerlein’s knee injury Monday, but it was actually bad news-worse news.
The bad news: Beuerlein has a slight ligament tear in his right knee and is unlikely to play next Sunday.
The worse news?
He could be out a month.
Beuerlein, the catalyst in Sunday’s rout of the Washington Redskins in his first start of the season, was hit after throwing a pass in the third quarter by defensive tackle Darryl Grant. He underwent a Magnetic Resonance Imaging test Sunday night, which disclosed the tear.
“The doctor told me, ‘It’s good news and bad news,’ ” Beuerlein said Monday. “ ‘The good news is there’s no surgery.’
“That immediately scared me. There was something wrong with my knee that wasn’t going to require surgery.
“I said, ‘What’s the bad news?’
“He said, ‘Well, it’s similar to Marcus (Allen’s) injury.’
“He said it’s not quite as severe. There was some blood and fluid around the injury, and the ligament is stretched and torn a little bit.
“It’s just a matter of how fast I bounce back. It shouldn’t keep me out nearly as long as it did Marcus (Allen has been out for three weeks). No. 1, it isn’t quite as severe. No. 2, at my position, they can brace it up. My legs don’t take as much of a beating as Marcus’ do. A running back needs it 100%.
“The doctors said the chances this week were remote, if at all. I asked, ‘What about next week?’ They said the chances are a little better.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed. I was sure it wasn’t anything more than a strain or a sprain. It was what I wanted to believe, but it just didn’t work out that way.”
When Allen was hurt a month ago, the Raiders announced it as a two-week injury. Allen is still walking around in a brace that goes from mid-thigh to ankle. He is easily three weeks away.
Raider optimism hasn’t waned any since, either.
“It looks pretty good, so far,” Coach Art Shell said of Beuerlein. “He didn’t have any swelling in it. He’s sore, of course. He took a pretty good shot. He’s sore, so it’s going to be a day-to-day thing as to whether he can go this week or not.”
And the fact that Beuerlein was told that this week is pretty remote?
“They were pretty remote on Terry McDaniel last week also, but Terry McDaniel played most of the game,” Shell said. “You never know about these things. I’m pretty optimistic. I want to be positive about it. If he can go, fine. If he can’t, we’ll utilize somebody else.”
That would be Jay Schroeder, of course.
For the Raiders, it’s the worst possible timing. The next team coming in is the powerful Cincinnati Bengals. Beuerlein is hot. Schroeder is not.
In Schroeder’s last three appearances, he has gone five for 16 and been relieved, seven for 22 and been relieved, and one for eight in relief of Beuerlein. That’s 28.3%.
His confidence appears at a low ebb, and Sunday the Coliseum crowd booed him as if he were Marc Wilson.
What can a coach say to a struggling quarterback?
“I wouldn’t say any more than I’d say if it was Steve or anybody,” Shell said. “ ‘Hey, the reins are in your hand. You have to direct this football team. It’s up to you.’ You can’t be concerned about the boos. Those things are going to happen.
“He’s the kind of guy, I think, who can bounce back. He bounced back last year. He’s been around long enough he can overcome these things.
“If he’s a strong man, if he has confidence in his abilities and what he can do, then I’m sure he’ll overlook that. It’s tough. It’s always tough. It’s a tough business.”
On a Sunday pregame show, NBC-TV’s new “insider,” Bobby Beathard, the Redskins’ former personnel director, reported that problems in the Raider coaching staff, which was shot through with dissension under Mike Shanahan, continue.
Beathard alleged that there was a clash between two old Raider holdovers, Tom Walsh, the quarterback coach who is handling play-calling which makes him the untitled offensive coordinator, and tight end coach Terry Robiskie.
Beathard said Robiskie missed last Monday’s practice in protest.
Shell denies it heatedly.
“I don’t know where Mr. Beathard is getting his information,” Shell said. “I think it’s trash journalism. I think it’s stooping to a level that’s unbecoming for a guy who’s supposed to be a genius in this National Football League.
“It’s incorrect. The statement that Terry missed practices, meetings, what-have-you, is totally untrue. Terry would not do anything like that.
“There are always going to be disagreements among the staff. Everybody has ideas. Everybody wants to put different ideas in. But there’s nothing to a point where there’s dissension. I won’t allow that. If there’s going to be any kind of dissension, then those kind of people won’t work here long.”
Was there a disagreement between Walsh and Robiskie?
“As I said, there are disagreements,” Shell said. “When you’re putting in a game plan, there are disagreements. When a play’s on the board, you like it and somebody else might not like it. But to say there’s a confrontational problem? No.”
The most likely replacement on the roster for Steve Beuerlein? Art Shell noted that Vince Evans lives “right down the street.” . . . The other possibility would be rookie Jeff Francis, but he’s on the development team and would have to clear waivers. . . . Shell, on line coach Alex Gibbs, Mike Shanahan’s close friend who took a few days to decide whether he would stay after Shanahan’s firing: “Alex does an excellent job. I think he’s worked his butt off. . . . I really admire the guy. He’s done an admirable job.”
Jerry Robinson, leveled by Jim Lachey while returning an interception, was so woozy he asked the team doctor where he was before the doctor could ask him, but he is OK. Said Shell: “I kidded him today. I asked, ‘Will you be ready by mini-camp this off-season?’ ” . . . And Shell, on Eddie Anderson’s “Fish Out of Water” dance in the end zone: “If he gets another couple interceptions and runs them back in the end zone--fine. Keep dancing.”