By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Defensive tackle Joe Salave'a, who returned to practice yesterday, is optimistic about returning to the lineup for the Washington Redskins' game Sunday against Jacksonville and says his injured calf is feeling much better.
"I'm pretty excited," Salave'a said. "If everything keeps going like it has been going, we should be good. There's still a few days before Sunday, but as long as I'm doing what the trainers have me doing, and if I'm smart about it, then I have a good chance [to play]. It's a big game. Every week is a real big week, but this week we need everybody out there."
Salave'a injured his right calf during the Week 2 loss in Dallas and missed practice most of last week. With Salave'a out of the lineup, rookies Kedric Golston and Anthony Montgomery have received their first significant taste of NFL action, and both have risen to the challenge months after being taken in the lower rounds of April's draft.
"I'm proud of them," Salave'a said of Golston, a sixth-round pick, and Montgomery, a fifth-round pick. "They played well. They played physical. It's something they can be proud of, too."Leftwich's Home Game
Jacksonville quarterback Byron Leftwich purchased about 100 tickets for Sunday's game, with his friends and family eager to welcome him back to Washington. Leftwich, who spoke to reporters on a conference call yesterday, recalled years spent cheering for the Redskins -- he referred to them as "we" at one point before catching himself -- and days spent sneaking into RFK Stadium.
Leftwich, 26, who attended H.D. Woodson High School and grew up in Washington, replaced Mark Brunell as Jacksonville's quarterback in 2003, Leftwich's rookie season, and has helped lead the franchise's resurgence. He said that he and his brother Kevin, 32, used to cry when the Redskins lost.
Leftwich was a die-hard fan, and for some December games he could not find anyone to sneak into the stadium with him, so he would go alone. Thanks to a sympathetic ticket taker, the quarterback figures he saw roughly 10 Redskins home games without having to pay.
The ticket taker would say, " 'If you walk up and run, I can't chase you,' " Leftwich said during the conference call. "He couldn't leave his post to go chasing after us. So me and whoever was with me that day just ran through. He never chased me; we'd always go through his line and just run. We'd run through the stadium with no tickets and sit in people's seats until somebody came."
Leftwich said his allegiance to the Redskins began to wane as it became clear in college that he had a future in the NFL. The moment Jacksonville drafted him in the first round, seventh overall, he made the switch for good. Over the years, he said, his family has gradually given up the burgundy and gold.
"Now it's all Jaguars, and then everybody sees what the Redskins did," Leftwich said.Family Reunited
Coach Joe Gibbs said that rookie safety Reed Doughty now has his family with him in this area. Doughty's baby was born about six weeks prematurely last month in Colorado and had remained hospitalized there until recently. . . . Notre Dame's comeback win over Michigan State on Saturday resulted in former Spartan T.J. Duckett donning a Fighting Irish sweatshirt yesterday -- and Irish alum Renaldo Wynn beaming.