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Pucillo Gets a Chance to Start After Injuries on Offensive Line

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By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 17, 2007

Veteran reserve offensive lineman Mike Pucillo was not certain he would get a chance to start this preseason, but a strong performance against Pittsburgh tomorrow could alter the scope of his immediate career. With Todd Wade out with a shoulder injury and struggling with the transition from tackle to guard, and veteran guard Will Whitticker released after getting hurt, Pucillo will have a shot to prove he can start for the Redskins.

Wade is unlikely to even dress for the game after missing practice all week, according to Joe Bugel, assistant head coach-offense and offensive line coach, and there are no assurances that he will remain with the first team if healthy next week. Should Pucillo shine against the tough Steelers at FedEx Field, the depth chart could be revised.

"He has a golden opportunity," Bugel said. "Anytime you work hard and you get the chance to start you figure, if you want the job, play well. He understands that."

Pucillo will be playing next to undrafted rookie free agent Stephon Heyer, who is filling in for Chris Samuels at left tackle.

Two Training Philosophies

The Redskins and Steelers will meet tomorrow night coming off divergent training camp regimens.

Washington, while conducting perhaps a more rigorous camp than a year ago, has still been cautious. Coach Joe Gibbs wanted to limit the risk of injury while getting players geared up for the regular season. Pittsburgh, meantime, has been running a more outwardly vigorous camp, with two-a-day sessions most every day (the Redskins had just five) and grueling meeting sessions as well under new coach Mike Tomlin, often going until after 10 p.m. in the classroom and then reporting back by 7:30 the following morning.

Gregg Williams, Washington's assistant head coach-defense, referred to Tomlin's tactics as a "toughness camp" and anticipates an intense encounter at FedEx Field, with Pittsburgh playing its third preseason game, when teams tend to push the most.

Washington held its final two-a-day Tuesday, although the first practice was essentially an 80-minute walk-through, with the offense and defense working with scout teams and no real contact. Some practices were scaled back in preemptive strikes against the heat, only for the afternoon to instead turn breezy and pleasant. Even then the sessions were still kept to an hour, and when players started picking up bruises during the few heated one-on-one battles, Gibbs curtailed the action.

"I would have liked to have kept going, but guys got hurt, and we cannot risk that," Gibbs said. . . .

Wide receiver Antwaan Randle El (quadriceps) returned to practice and expects to play, but tailback Rock Cartwright, a return specialist, missed practice after a hamstring injury Wednesday night and is unlikely to play tomorrow. Gibbs said he has a rough idea that the offensive starters will play close to what they did last week -- an entire half -- but will make a final decision as the game progresses. Veteran Todd Collins will be the second quarterback to enter the game, Gibbs said. Mark Brunell filled that role last week.


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