By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Washington Redskins right guard Randy Thomas will undergo surgery for his torn left triceps today and, with Thomas sidelined indefinitely, tackle Jason Fabini will start in his place, Coach Joe Gibbs said.
The injury to Thomas, who was hurt in Monday night's win in Philadelphia, is the second significant blow to Washington's offensive line in the first two games of the season. The Redskins were scheduled to watch several veteran guards work out before practice today.
The Redskins lost starting right tackle Jon Jansen for the season Sept. 9, leaving them with a makeshift lineup of veterans Todd Wade and Fabini on the right side. The duo held up well against the Eagles -- save for Fabini's consecutive false-start penalties on a crucial drive late in the first half -- but the team is interested in landing another experienced guard. Fabini, a 10-year veteran who was brought in to supply depth, was moved to guard this preseason.
The length of Thomas's absence will not be known until after surgery, Gibbs told reporters yesterday. Recovering from torn triceps injuries often takes considerable time.
"It's got to be surgically repaired," Gibbs said, adding that the triceps "came off the bone." Bubba Tyer, Washington's director of sports medicine, said the injury is significant and that Thomas will have to wear a cast or splint on his arm for at least six weeks.
No matter whom the Redskins sign -- veterans Keydrick Vincent and Rick DeMulling were scheduled to arrive at the team's training facility in Ashburn, sources said, with perhaps other guards working out as well -- players of Thomas's stature are not on the market at this point of the season. Thomas is an offensive leader who plays with a mean streak and excels on pulling plays. He and Jansen formed a powerful duo on sweeps and pitches to the right side. Thomas last suffered a serious injury late in the 2005 season, breaking his right leg, and within a matter of weeks the Redskins' running game began to suffer.
Thomas had just returned to form after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery this past offseason. The injury, which occurred in the course of normal pass-blocking duties, left Thomas visibly emotional after Monday's game, with his tears welling up in his eyes and his left arm in a sling.
"Both of those guys are dynamic leaders in the locker room," Gibbs said of Thomas and Jansen. "They come to play and our players all know it. Some other guys have to step up and play. It's rough when you see something like that happen. It was almost like I couldn't believe it: two guys in a row, two weeks in a row."
Fabini, taken in the fourth round by the Jets in 1998, played eight years in New York and was a starter from 1998 to 2004. He appeared in 15 games for Dallas last season as a reserve. Fabini, who got off to a slow start in training camp while transitioning to guard after playing tackle for so long, says he is prepared to start the remainder of the season.
"The more you can play, the more valuable you are, especially as a backup," Fabini said. "You just can't be a backup and play one position."
Gibbs said he is comfortable with Fabini starting and praised his work Monday. "He's been around, he's played a bunch, he doesn't panic and he did a good job for us," Gibbs said.
The Redskins were mulling roster options for Thomas, hoping the injury would not be so severe as to make it certain he would have to be placed on the injured reserve list, a move that would force him to miss the season, including the playoffs. The team is carrying a number of players at several positions, allowing it to continue to count Thomas against the 53-man roster limit and still have options. Washington has six wide receivers and six safeties, more than the norm, and could part with a reserve at either spot to make room for another offensive lineman.
By the time practice resumes late this afternoon, that change is likely to occur. Vincent and DeMulling planned visits to Redskins Park, league sources said. Vincent spent yesterday working out for the line-depleted St. Louis Rams before flying to the Washington area. The Redskins fielded calls from a host of agents and told them they were seeking veteran linemen with starting experience.
Vincent, 29, is seen by some NFL executives as the best guard available after being cut by Baltimore late in training camp. Vincent (6 feet 5, 325 pounds) has played seven seasons and started 12 games for the Ravens in 2006. He also started for the Steelers. Baltimore and Pittsburgh employ a power running game like that Gibbs espouses. Vincent entered the league as an un-drafted free agent with Pittsburgh in 2001.
DeMulling, 30, a seventh-round draft pick in 2001, started 41 games in three seasons with Indianapolis before leaving as a free agent to sign with Detroit. He spent two years with the Lions, then returned to the Colts this offseason, but was cut midway through camp. DeMulling (6-4, 304 pounds) played at Idaho.