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Salave'a Happy to Be Back With 'Second Family'

By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 3, 2006

Defensive tackle Joe Salave'a flew for the better part of two days and jumped a few red-eye flights to get from American Samoa to Ashburn for Redskins training camp, and arrived yesterday afternoon jetlagged but excited. Salave'a was in his homeland for the funeral of his mother, who died after a long battle with cancer, and returning to his teammates was cathartic, he said.

"Considering the circumstances with the passing of my mother," Salave'a said while holding his baby daughter, "I think I need these guys more than they need me, just to get over this. I'm glad to be back."

Salave'a, whose wife just gave birth to a son, did not wear full pads for last night's practice, donning shorts instead, and was going on adrenaline after not getting much sleep. He expects to need a few days to get up to speed after missing the first two days of training camp, but the chance to get back on the football field was an escape of sorts.

"The healing process will take time, but just to be back here going through it with the guys makes it a little easier to cope," he said. "But I can't say the same for my other family members, because they're still back there [in Samoa] dealing with it. But I've got a second family to come to, and that helps a little."

Last season, Salave'a stayed in the lineup despite a painful foot problem that made it very difficult to walk, much less run. He has solidified the interior of Washington's defensive line since coming here in 2004. Coach Joe Gibbs said he expects that Salave'a should be ready for a regular workload for Saturday's scrimmage against Baltimore.

Practice Practicality

Gibbs said he was happy with the decision to move yesterday's scheduled afternoon practice to a 7 p.m. start, which resulted in temperatures 10 degrees cooler at the start of the session. The team had to work quickly to get lights to the facility after making the change Tuesday afternoon, and will practice today at 8:30 a.m. and again at 7.

"It's a big expense," Gibbs said of the lights, "but I think it sure pays off. I'm glad we did it."

Gibbs said he anticipates this morning's practice being shorter and less demanding, with full pads likely for the night session. Neither practice is open to the public.

Portis's Passing Fancy

Running back Clinton Portis, perhaps the NFL's biggest proponent of the halfback option pass, completed a bomb to wide receiver Richard Smith during last night's practice, erupted in celebration, took a victory lap for the fans and then reprised his throwing motion and recounted the accomplishment to any teammate within earshot. . . .

Retired offensive lineman Lincoln Kennedy underwent medical testing at Redskins Park yesterday, but did not work out. Gibbs said Kennedy had "medical issues" after taking a physical, and the team does not intend to sign him. . . .

Adventurous tight end Chris Cooley is dabbling with the idea of cornrows. "Some guys are trying to talk me into it," he said. "I might be persuaded." . . .

Center Casey Rabach, who suffered a major laceration on his leg in the offseason, said he hopes to have the final stitch from the wound removed today. The team worked diligently to prevent infection, and Rabach was cleared for full participation from the start of camp.

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