Chase Minnifield eager to prove himself in first game since 2011

Minnifield_Reeves_982w

Chase Minnifield breaks up a pass intended for Chip Reeves during training camp (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

RICHMOND – When Chase Minnifield steps on the field Thursday night as the Redskins open the preseason against the Tennessee Titans, it will mark the end of a 20-month wait for the first-year cornerback.

After suffering a season ending knee injury in 2011 that required microfracture surgery, the University of Virginia product made it back to the field the following summer as an undrafted rookie signed by the Redskins. But on the final day of offseason practices, Minnifield tore his anterior cruciate ligament and missed all of the 2012 season.

Now, just more than a year later, Minnifield finally will play his first game since his college career ended. After working his way back into the groove during offseason practices and impressing coaches and teammates during the opening stretch of training camp, Minnifield welcomes the next opportunity to prove himself.

“I can’t wait to play in a game,” Minnifield said. “It’s been a long time. I just want to go out there and play hard – keep doing what I’ve been doing in practice here and take it into games.”

Minnifield finds himself in a battle for a roster spot at a position that boasts three seasoned veterans in DeAngelo Hall (10th season), Josh Wilson (eighth) and E.J. Biggers (fifth), and a cast of young competitors like second-year pro Richard Crawford, rookie David Amerson and journeymen Ryan Mouton and Jerome Murphy.

Hall, Wilson, Biggers, Amerson and Crawford all seem to have spots locked up on the 53-man roster, and a strong performance Thursday should go a long way toward ensuring Minnifield remains on track to earn a job as well.

With Hall not expected to dress for the game while nursing ankle and finger injuries, Amerson likely will start at left corner. But Minnifield should see a fair amount of action, and possibly early in the game. Tuesday in practice, Minnifield took over for Hall after the first round of 11-on-11 drills, lining up opposite Amerson, who took Wilson’s place at right corner.

Minnifield struggled to describe what kind of pregame emotions he expected to experience, but he aims to channel whatever feelings he has into a solid performance against the Titans.

“I’m not really sure what to expect,” Minnifield said Tuesday. “I just know I’ll go out there, play hard and count my blessings, because I know it’s a blessing to be able to go out and play.”

Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag.

Follow: @MikeJonesWaPo | @MarkMaske | @D3Keith @Insider | @PostSports

What’s ahead:

● Wednesday, the team has a walk-through, then flies to Tennessee for Thursday’s preseason opener.

● Camp in Richmond resumes Saturday. If you’re headed there, check our our guide to training camp for tips on getting autographs, where to park and things to do after the session is over.

More on the Redskins and NFL:

In preseason game vs. Titans, several Redskins players see opportunity

Davis and Orakpo eager for some game action

Helu aims to control emotions heading into Thursday night

Tom Compton’s duties on the offensive line expand  | All Insider posts

D.C. Sports Bog: Paul’s backfired silly string prank | More Bog & Redskins

The Early Lead: Presason crackdown on NFL celebrations? | Around the NFL

Training camp photo galleries: Aug. 3 to present | Start of camp through Aug. 2

Also on The Insider

Davis, Orakpo eager for some game action