By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Washington Redskins punter Derrick Frost, who suffered a calf injury in Sunday's loss to the New York Giants, was excused from practice yesterday because of the death of his grandmother. Place kicker Nick Novak, signed Tuesday to replace the injured John Hall, stood in for Frost at practice but did not actually punt.
The Redskins had brought in veteran punter Sean Landeta for a tryout Tuesday as a precaution in case Frost cannot punt this Sunday, but Coach Joe Gibbs said that Frost will be back for practice today. Frost, who was kicked in the calf, is listed as probable for Sunday's game against Tennessee.
Novak first played for the Redskins last season, when Hall suffered another bout of leg injuries, but he was released after Hall returned. Novak connected on a game-winning field goal against Seattle last season but was not as strong on kickoffs as the team would have liked. Novak, who kicked at Maryland, has auditioned for several teams this season and was eager for work anywhere, but was glad to land back in Washington.
"Just to be back here, it feels right," Novak said. "All I can do is focus on doing my job and taking advantage of this opportunity. I was really excited when [special teams coach] Danny Smith called me. He told me to get here as quickly as I could, and I was already in town, so I just shot over here."
Novak won a kicking competition Tuesday. Hall left Redskins Park yesterday morning and declined to speak to reporters.
"I could see the disappointment on his face," long snapper Ethan Albright said. "But he was the first one to say, 'Hey, they did all they could, but here I am again fighting a leg injury.' "
Gibbs said he had several conversations with Hall in recent days and regretted having to make the decision. But after using an extra spot to carry two kickers much of the past two seasons while Hall was injured, the club had to make a move. "We hated to do it," Gibbs said. "But I think it was best for the team and best for John."Springs Does 'Light Work'
Cornerback Shawn Springs, out since the first preseason game with groin and abdominal problems, took part in what Gibbs called "light work" yesterday on the practice field. Springs said he is eager to return, but will have to see how his body feels in response to the workload. He is listed as questionable for the game.
Several defensive players also are on the mend, although most of them are slated to play Sunday. Defensive linemen Phillip Daniels (back) and Cornelius Griffin (hip) are expected to play and took part in some drills. They are listed as probable. Defensive tackle Joe Salave'a (calf) missed two weeks the last time he suffered this kind of injury and is questionable. Linebacker Marcus Washington (hip) did not practice and is probable.Fisher's Take on Williams
Redskins assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams has a long and close relationship with Tennessee Coach Jeff Fisher, as both came into the league as young coaches in Houston under Buddy Ryan. Fisher, during his conference call with reporters, took the first shot of the week at his buddy.
"Gregg has always been a very enthusiastic, emotional coach," Fisher said. "He's never at a loss for words. He's always had the players' respect and obviously that speaks for itself there. He does realize one thing, that I forgot more defense than he'll ever know. Please remind him of that."
Despite the plight of Washington's defense this season, Fisher said Williams remains a formidable foe who is able to make adjustments and get the best from his personnel each week. The Redskins rank 21st overall in defense, 22nd in points allowed and 24th in passing yards allowed per game.
"Gregg has always been a guy who can adjust not only from one season to the next, but from week to week," Fisher said.