By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Quarterback Jason Campbell said he intends to play in the Washington Redskins' final preseason game Thursday night in Jacksonville, although with a short week of preparation Coach Joe Gibbs said he will not put Campbell on the field unless his sore left knee is 100 percent.
The Redskins, who played a lightning-shortened game Saturday night, face uncertainty throughout the lineup because of injuries and are trying to integrate new players with a limited window in practice.
Starting left tackle Chris Samuels, who has missed the preseason with a knee injury, said he will not play in Jacksonville, and though it seems unlikely that tailback Clinton Portis (knee) will participate, Gibbs did not entirely rule it out. Gibbs said that he expects left guard Pete Kendall and fullback Fred Beasley, who were acquired last week, to make their Redskins debuts, though the degree of their workload is in flux as Washington practices just once this week -- today -- before traveling tomorrow to Florida.
On defense, matters are much more settled, though the Redskins will be looking to blend newly signed linebacker Randall Godfrey into the lineup, and could give some reps to cornerback Shawn Springs (Achilles' tendon). Linebacker Marcus Washington, who has a dislocated right elbow, is definitely out for Thursday's game, though he is making strides in his recovery.
"You don't like the unsettled feeling, particularly it's more on the offensive side," Gibbs said. "That's where our injuries have been, and obviously with the late addition here with Pete. You don't like that, but it's something you just work your way through. I don't spend a lot of time worrying about what occurred, you just have to work your way through this. And Jason being out of there, we don't like him missing anything. So you're kind of dealt some cards and you're going to have to play the hand."
While the players were in for meetings and film work yesterday, and not for practice, Campbell headed to the field to throw. He had been unable to plant his left leg after being struck on the knee and knocked from a preseason game against Pittsburgh Aug. 18.
"There's still some soreness, but that's something that the doctors said that will be there for a little bit and I'm not taking any risk by going out and playing," Campbell said. "Right now my main objective is to get back to practice [today] and go full speed and just come out Thursday trying to get in a rhythm. Miami [Sept. 9] is right around the corner and the big picture will be here soon."
Campbell said most of the swelling has dissipated and he does not feel it would be "any risk" returning Thursday, but would wear a brace. The more he has practiced dropping back into the pocket and planting to throw, the looser his knee has felt, Campbell said, though he admits he is not 100 percent. "A lot of times you have to play in games where you're not 100 percent," said Campbell, who wants to work on pivoting and bootlegs today.
Gibbs said Campbell would have to emerge from today's practice feeling 100 percent in order to start Thursday, otherwise veteran Mark Brunell would get the start. "If he tells me he's having trouble planting or throwing, then he's not playing," Gibbs said. "He's going to have to tell me if he's 100 percent or not."
When told of Gibbs's remarks Campbell said, "Oh, I'll be 100 percent by Thursday."
Gibbs is most enthused that none of the injuries is expected to linger deep into the regular season. Prolonged absences by Portis and Samuels -- neither has done any rigorous activity since the first week of training camp -- could affect their conditioning and performance early in the regular season -- but Gibbs hopes that they can return to practice soon.
Portis has experienced tendinitis in his right knee in May and was cleared for full work at the start of training camp, then experienced a recurrence of the tendinitis after a few practices and has not been back. It is highly unlikely he would play Thursday after such a layoff, though Gibbs called it a "game-time" decision and said Portis will be more involved in today's practice. He believes Portis is in good condition, but allowed that cardio work is much different from "carrying the pads" in a game. Their ultimate goal is for him to be ready for the season opener.
"Hopefully, what we've done here is the smart thing," Gibbs said. "Give him a long rest period and get that thing totally healed so it's not going to wind up being a nagging thing."
Samuels originally hoped to be able to take a few snaps in the preseason finale, but has yet to practice and so undrafted rookie free agent Stephon Heyer is likely to start again at left tackle. "I'll probably just practice a little this week and go out and warm up," Samuels said. "I'll use this week to get my footwork down and start working my way back in and also work on my conditioning."
Samuels's absence means that he and Kendall -- the new left side of the line -- will go into the regular season without taking any snaps together against another opponent. Samuels said he watched most of Saturday's game with Kendall, however, building some camaraderie and exchanges ideas about the game. "I told him, 'Move your chair up there by my chair in the meeting room. That way we can start talking about some things,' " Samuels said.
Gibbs said he anticipates Kendall will have some role Thursday (Gibbs expects veteran lineman Todd Wade to return from his shoulder injury as well), but the coaches are still deliberating about how to divvy up playing time.
"I'm not quite sure what coach's plan is for me at this point," said Kendall, who was acquired Thursday from the Jets. "I'm looking forward to practice [today], and I suspect a lot of it will have to do with how I show I can fit in. If it's a little bit up and down, then having discretion might be the better part of valor. If it goes maybe a little more smoothly, then maybe I'll get a chance to see a little action."
Defensively, the rotation is much more clear. Springs could still be limited, however, and Washington is out but can move around without a brace on his injured elbow. Washington said he will wear a brace in games and practices, and is confident about getting back by Sept. 9. "I feel really good about it," Washington said. "I've still got a little swelling in there, so I'm trying to get a little mobility back in it, but I feel good."
Redskins Note: The team released six players yesterday and must trim four to reach the 75-player limit by today's 4 p.m. deadline. Cornerback Jerametrius Butler, defensive end Jamaal Green, linebacker Kevin Jones, wide receivers Jerel Myers and Todd Pinkston and defensive tackle Bryant Shaw were cut.