Defensive Line Slowly Returning to Health

By Howard Bryant
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 6, 2006

For the first time in weeks, the Washington Redskins' defensive unit began to resemble on the field what it was supposed to look like on paper.

Left defensive end Phillip Daniels practiced yesterday for the first time since aggravating his back three weeks ago. Because of the number of high-profile injuries that marred training camp, the Redskins took no chances with Daniels, who missed the last three preseason games.

"A lot of it was precautionary. I probably could have played through the pain, but there was no point doing that through preseason," Daniels said. "I feel good. I'm glad to be back and get ready for Monday night. It's just hard when you have two or three weeks like that where you just take it off and don't do anything."

Defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin practiced for the first time since injuring his right knee Aug. 19 against the New York Jets. Griffin took being out especially hard considering that Daniels already was out. A week after Griffin was hurt, defensive end Renaldo Wynn -- a starter last year -- injured his ankle at New England. Of the Redskins' regular defensive linemen, only Joe Salave'a played all four preseason games. Wynn said he would try to practice tomorrow.

"Having me and Renaldo, three starters from last year out, we had big Joe out there all out there by himself," Griffin said. "Basically, we're trying to get to where we need to be, so we have to get back together."

Griffin, who is the key to the Redskins' run defense, appeared more optimistic than after the Patriots game, when he didn't even want to discuss his knee.

"We'll see. I'm one day at a time right now," he said. "I'm getting better every day."

Wade to Bolster Line

After a preseason in which Coach Joe Gibbs expressed disappointment with the play of his backup offensive linemen, the Redskins yesterday signed tackle Todd Wade, a six-year veteran, and released Ikechuku Ndukwe.

Wade was chosen by the Dolphins in the second round of the 2000 draft. He played for the Texans last year and started nine games before a knee injury ended his season.

"It was time to sign with a team and this is a good one," Wade said. "It was the next step. . . . It was a good workout. We were just looking around for the right situation and decided it was time to go play somewhere, so here I am."

Wade visited the Redskins two weeks ago, but the two sides could not agree on a contract, Gibbs said. Wade said he had originally sought a team that would allow him to win a starting job.

"It just came down to a couple of teams that actually needed a tackle and wanted me to come in and compete, but this wasn't really one of them," he said. "Time kind of ran out and it was time to come to a team."

A Shocking Cut

When linebacker Marcus Washington and fullback Mike Sellers heard that backup defensive end Cedric Killings was released, their responses were the same. Both said they were stunned. Killings had been with the club since 2004, and early in the preseason the Redskins' defensive coaches were praising his improvement.

"For me," Washington said, "that was the shock of the preseason."

Killings had been one of the more reliable backups over the past couple of seasons, playing in 10 games and starting one, but found himself in a position battle with Anthony Montgomery and Cedric Goldston, the tackles the Redskins drafted this year in the fifth and sixth rounds, respectively.

"The general consensus from most of the teams I've spoken to is that he won't be on the market for long," said Killings's agent, Brett Tessler. "His release had nothing to do with him not being one of the better linemen on the team. They simply drafted a couple of DTs and decided they wanted to go younger. Teams don't realize how much they'll miss role players like Cedric until after they're gone."

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