Springs Remains Hard to Reach

By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Second-year safety LaRon Landry said he missed Monday's practice because of a family issue but plans to attend the remainder of Washington's organized team activities, while Coach Jim Zorn had yet to make contact with absent cornerback Shawn Springs as of Tuesday.

Landry returned to his starting spot in yesterday's practice, with Zorn playing down the incident. "[Monday] I was at home taking care of a lot of family issues, but I came back and I am ready to work," Landry said after practice, adding that he and Zorn "got everything squared away" during a morning meeting.

Springs has been working out in Arizona -- as he did last offseason -- and has told people that he does not intend to report to Redskins Park until the start of mandatory work in training camp. Springs has not contacted the team, however, Zorn said.

"We're still wondering where Shawn is," Zorn said, "but he knows what he's doing. We're still trying to reach him."

Zorn said that there could be a tendency to allow Springs's absence to frustrate the staff, but that he is not allowing it to do so. "Guys know how to stay aloof, and I could get frustrated," Zorn said. "But I don't get frustrated."

Springs reported to camp in shape last season after following a rigorous routine in Arizona that he is maintaining this offseason. The relationship between Springs and the front office grew strained a year ago, when the Redskins asked him to take a pay cut to remain with the team, but he finished 2007 in good form and enters this season as one of the most important players on the defense, particularly with cornerback Carlos Rogers a health concern after major knee surgery.

Landry, who alternated between free safety and strong safety last season, said he is open to playing either position under new defensive coordinator Greg Blache. "It doesn't matter," Landry said. "Whatever coach wants me to do, that's what I'm here for."

Moss Fesses Up

Wide receiver Santana Moss was candid about the "sickness" that forced him to miss Monday's practice, admitting that a weekend of charity events and parties to celebrate his 29th birthday certainly had something to do with how he was feeling Monday morning.

Zorn said the Redskins sent Moss home Monday with the flu, but Moss said his teammates knew better.

"All they did is laugh because they knew it was going to happen like that," Moss said. "I told them, 'You think you're still young and you can still hold up,' but they all know what time it was. You have to chalk it up and be ready the next day."

Moss said he felt much better yesterday and was hoping to show off his form to Zorn, but the duo failed to connect on a pattern late in practice. Zorn, a former star quarterback with the Seattle Seahawks, threw a pass to Moss as he lined up against trash-talking cornerback Fred Smoot, but the play was incomplete.

"I told him my bad for not coming through for him," Moss said of Zorn. "We had a little miscommunication."

Zorn said he was hoping to get the better of Smoot. "Smoot was the guy that I wanted," Zorn said. "We've got a little competition going and he's got me 1-0 right now."

Jansen Ready to Go

Tackle Jon Jansen has been with the Redskins longer than any other current player and now, playing for his sixth head coach here, is eager to return to the health that defined his first five seasons. Jansen's season ended when he broke his leg in the opener last year; he has missed essentially all of two of the past four seasons.

Jansen started the first 80 games of his career but has missed 32 of Washington's last 64 dating from the start of 2004 (he missed all of that season with a torn Achilles' tendon). Even when in the lineup he has often been banged up -- playing with two broken thumbs at one time -- with freakish injuries taking him out of the lineup for the most part.

Jansen, 32, says he feels great now, however, and is optimistic about the upcoming season as he returns to his starting right tackle spot.

"This is what I do and there is nothing worse than not being able to be a part of what you've done you're whole life," Jansen said. "I'm happy for the guys and for the organization last year, because there was so much they had to deal with and work through.

"But personally, it was disappointing because I couldn't go out there on Sundays, I couldn't be a part of the playoffs, I couldn't do some things, and that's frustrating. But that's the game of football, and things aren't always going to go your way."

Jansen has not played a meaningful game since Sept. 9.

"It feels like a long time," Jansen said. "But on the flip side, being back out there now it really feels like I didn't miss a beat and I'm just happy to be back."

Defense Has Continuity

The transition to another new offense has been a constant topic of conversation, but those on the defense say that the switch to Blache has been smooth. Blache is continuing much of what former defensive leader Gregg Williams established, but with fewer personnel packages and less overall volume.

It's natural for the defense to be ahead of the offense at this point -- Zorn just began to install the offensive playbook last month, for instance -- and players say they are excited about the opportunity to attack opponents.

"As a defense we're just continuing off what we did last year," veteran end Phillip Daniels said. "There's nothing new, we've still got the same plans but we cut back on a lot so we can play faster. And that's what it takes to be a physical defense and play fast on the field. So I'm impressed with how much the guys knew from last year coming back in here. We didn't really have to correct much, we just go line up and play."

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