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Former Terp Gets the Nod at Left Tackle

By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Undrafted rookie Stephon Heyer is scheduled to start at left tackle in the Washington Redskins' preseason opener Saturday at Tennessee, Coach Joe Gibbs said, leaving Heyer in the difficult position of protecting quarterback Jason Campbell's blind side. Heyer, whose college career at Maryland was derailed by a serious knee injury, has impressed the staff with starting tackle Chris Samuels out for most of the preseason with a knee injury.

Heyer performed well in Saturday's controlled scrimmage at Baltimore -- when defenses were not allowed to hit the quarterback -- but will face his stiffest challenge to date this weekend. Heyer himself was shocked when elevated to the first team last week, and starting him at such a crucial position is certainly a gamble.

"I think Heyer did a great job for us" in the scrimmage, Gibbs said. "He's continued to improve. I'd say he's going to be the starter [Saturday]. He had a good scrimmage."

Samuels, who sprained his right knee early in camp, said he hopes to be back in less than the four weeks originally prescribed. He is moving around well, has been lifting weights and began his cardio work yesterday. "I feel really good," Samuels said. "I think it might end up being shorter than a month." Guard Randy Thomas, who has yet to practice fully in training camp as he recovers from offseason knee surgery, is taking more work daily and aims to participate in the exhibition game, even if in a reduced role.

"I gotta play," Thomas said. "Jason [Campbell] needs me. The offensive line needs me. My team needs me. I don't know how many reps, but I gotta play."

Veteran tackle Todd Wade continues to take all his reps at guard as he adapts to that position, and Jason Fabini, the other experienced tackle in camp, remains out with a groin injury, although Gibbs said he is getting closer to a return. Guard Will Whitticker, who earned raves from some coaches this offseason, suffered what appears to be a high ankle sprain yesterday and will require an MRI exam. Tailback Ladell Betts will have X-rays after jamming his neck in practice, but director of sports medicine Bubba Tyer said it appears to be a minor injury. Fullback Mike Sellers missed part of practice when he aggravated a bone bruise on his right knee, but that is not serious, Tyer said.

Bramlet Out, Palmer Stays

The Redskins released quarterback Casey Bramlet yesterday, a move predicated by the abundance of passers in camp. Bramlet, who was in his second camp with Washington, was cut in favor of Jordan Palmer, a sixth-round pick in April. Palmer is eligible for the practice squad, his most likely destination.

"We're trying to get our quarterbacks as much work as possible," Gibbs said. "We felt like we needed to get down to at least four at this point."

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