Lineman Heyer Makes First Start While Fighting the Flu

By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 26, 2007

TAMPA, Nov. 25 -- Undrafted rookie Stephon Heyer made his first NFL start -- he filled in for injured right tackle Todd Wade -- and held up well in adverse conditions.

Wade was expected to play Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium after a mild knee sprain last week, but he was ruled out before the game.

Heyer is the third player to start at right tackle and was forced into action several other times this season. Heyer, 23, was the surprise of training camp when he rose from the bottom of the chart to a preseason starter when left tackle Chris Samuels injured his knee.

Heyer missed practice this week with the stomach flu and lost several pounds. He said he still was not feeling 100 percent before the game, yet he played every offensive snap against a tough defense on an 80 degree day in which the Redskins held the ball for 35 minutes -- almost all of the second half.

"I thought he played well," said Samuels, who struggled for the second straight week. "I wasn't sure if he was going to be able to play because he had been so sick, and it was a hot day. But he fought for all four quarters."

Wade's injury is considered short-term, and he could be back for next week's game against Buffalo.

Randle El Leaves With Injury

Wide receiver Antwaan Randle El, who was having the best season of his career before he hurt his hamstring in the Oct. 7 game against Detroit, aggravated it early Sunday and did not return. Randle El originally was hurt as he ran to the end zone after making a catch.

Randle El's departure created more plays for wide receiver Reche Caldwell, who has been barely used since being signed as a free agent in the second week of the season.

Caldwell caught his first pass as a Redskin on Sunday.

Veteran receiver Keenan McCardell handled punt return duties after Randle El left the game.

Sellers Doesn't Make Trip

Fullback Mike Sellers was inactive after injuring his back in practice. Sellers, who twisted his back during drills Wednesday, missed his second game since signing with the Redskins in 2004.

Sellers is a staple of the running game as a lead blocker for Clinton Portis, is heavily involved in pass protection and is a short-yardage rusher.

His absence was felt when the Redskins failed to convert on fourth and one in the third quarter. Sellers did not accompany the team to Tampa Bay and continues to receive treatment for his back.

Garcia Leaves, Comes Back

Tampa Bay quarterback Jeff Garcia was knocked from the game on the opening drive but re-entered in the fourth quarter, still feeling quite sore.

"I just felt like at the time when I went in the offense needed some sort of spark, not taking anything away from [backup quarterback] Bruce [Gradkowski]," said Garcia, who had an X-ray at halftime. . . .

Defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin was able to start despite missing practices this week with an ankle injury, but aggravated the injury Sunday. . . . Safety Reed Doughty made his second career start -- and second straight. He replaced Sean Taylor and delivered several big hits.

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