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Offensive Line Gets Healthier

By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 19, 2007

Starting offensive linemen Todd Wade, who has a groin strain, and Pete Kendall, who has sore knees and hamstrings, returned to practice yesterday and both remain optimistic about facing Arizona on Sunday. Center Casey Rabach, who also has a groin strain, and reserve tackle Stephon Heyer, who pulled a hamstring Sunday, missed practice again, although Rabach is confident he will start Sunday.

The health of the offensive line has been the Washington Redskins' greatest concern this week, and while the availability of several players could be game-time decisions, the progress yesterday was encouraging to coaches and players.

The Redskins continued to use defensive lineman Lorenzo Alexander as a backup guard, and newcomers Kevin Sampson and Calvin Armstrong were getting significant work as well. Gregg Williams, assistant head coach-defense, said there is a chance Alexander could accomplish an old-school hat trick this weekend -- play on offense, defense and special teams in the same game, and he has become a favorite on this staff for his determination.

"He's just a tough, smart powerful guy looking for an opportunity to get a chance to get on the field," Williams said. "I'm a Lorenzo Alexander fan and I'd love to see him play in all three phases this week. It'd be neat."

Armstrong and Sampson are signed to the practice squad, but if Heyer cannot play Sunday, there is a possibility one of them could be signed to the active roster, which would require releasing another player. Given the run of groin and hamstring strains along the offensive line, the Redskins are having that unit do additional stretching before and after practice, and the team also brought in a consultant to advise about preventive measures.

Preparing for Cardinals' QB

Williams said he is unfazed by Arizona's uncertainty at quarterback, with Kurt Warner practicing despite an elbow injury and recently signed Tim Rattay the projected starter. Williams said he is not altering his game plan for either individual, but has been impressed by the Cardinals' progress under a new coaching staff.

"They lead the league in several offensive categories no matter who plays that [quarterback] position," Williams said.

Arizona's offensive line -- once an annual problem -- is now a strength under former Redskins great Russ Grimm, and they have adopted more of the pounding offensive philosophy Grimm and Coach Ken Whisenhunt were known for during their time on Pittsburgh's staff. The Redskins also expect injured wide receiver Anquan Boldin to play Sunday, and he teams with another huge wideout, Larry Fitzgerald, to create matchup problems.

Springs Remains in Dallas

Cornerback Shawn Springs remained in Dallas yesterday with his father, Ron, a former NFL standout, who was in a coma in a Texas hospital. Williams generally requires players to practice if they are to play, but would waive that requirement should Springs want to honor his father by participating Sunday. "If he's here before kickoff and he wants to play, he'll play," Williams said. . . . Linebacker Marcus Washington is still not practicing fully but did increase his workload from Wednesday. . . . Clinton Portis, who spent the offseason and training camp recovering from injuries, has not gained more than 100 yards in any of the last 11 games. "I do feel like I'm finally getting back in football shape," he said. He added that next year, "if I'm still here," he looks forward to a full offseason and training camp. Still if given the choice, he'd prefer to skip preseason games, he said.

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