Guard Thomas Returns, but Exits Early With Elbow Injury

By Jason La Canfora and Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, December 7, 2007

The Redskins welcomed back three injured players for last night's game against the Chicago Bears at FedEx Field, including stalwart guard Randy Thomas.

Thomas, who had been out since tearing his triceps in Week 2, then suffered an elbow injury in the first quarter and did not re-enter the game but said the injury is not severe.

Thomas said he could not operate as he normally would but did not seriously aggravate the injury.

"It was just using caution, being smart," Thomas said following the Redskins' 24-16 win.

"It wasn't fun playing with one arm, and I've got to be smart with this and see what happens."

With 10 days between games, Thomas wanted to be certain not to suffer a setback. After tearing his triceps, Thomas originally feared his season was over, but the Redskins kept a roster spot open for him and were rewarded when he started last night.

Jason Fabini replaced Thomas in the second quarter.

Fullback Mike Sellers -- like Thomas a fundamental element in the running game -- was also back in the starting lineup after missing two games with a back injury.

Wide receiver Antwaan Randle El, a Chicago native who drew heavy free agent interest from the Bears prior to signing with Washington in 2006, also was back after missing Sunday's game with a hamstring injury. . . .

Defensive end Phillip Daniels sprained a knee late in the game, but the team did not believe it was severe. Tailback Clinton Portis (hand), tight end Chris Cooley (shin) and cornerback Fred Smoot (sickness) all left the game at various times but re-entered.

Heyer Gets Start at Tackle

Undrafted rookie tackle Stephon Heyer made his second career start, with tackle Todd Wade inactive. Wade has struggled lately in a starting role and battled knee problems as well.

Heyer, who was a long shot to make the team this summer but ended up starting in the preseason, has been one of the team's feel-good stories. His previous start came Nov. 25 at Tampa Bay, when he performed well in a loss. Heyer has appeared in eight games and has often filled in for other tackles with injuries commonplace this season.

Blache, Urlacher Share Bond

Greg Blache, the Redskins' defensive line coach, was the Chicago Bears' defensive coordinator from 1999 through 2003. During his time in Chicago, Blache tutored many standout players, Pro Bowl middle linebacker Brian Urlacher among them.

As a rookie in 2000, Urlacher was intimidated by Blache, whose intensity in practice set the tone for the Bears defense. But Urlacher said he learned much from Blache, and the two men formed a bond that's still strong today.

"He was intimidating, the way he talked to you," Urlacher said. "He was the defensive coordinator, but he's telling you things that you probably never heard before. He definitely taught me a lot my rookie year."

Blache and Urlacher became friends, sharing interests in hunting and fishing.

"We used to go out together, fishing and all that," Urlacher said. "We went hunting more than we went fishing. We went out west [from Chicago] to shoot some birds."

Under Blache in 2001, Urlacher had 116 tackles, 6 sacks and 3 interceptions. The Bears had 64 tackles for losses and led the league in scoring defense at 12.7 points per game.

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