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Zorn Looks Ahead to Training Camp

By Jason La Canfora and Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, June 13, 2008

Coach Jim Zorn expects to have most of the Washington Redskins' roster cleared for full contact when training camp opens July 20, with a few exceptions. Zorn, who conducted the team's final offseason practice yesterday before the summer break, said that cornerback Carlos Rogers, defensive end Erasmus James, rookie safety Kareem Moore and tight end Tyler Ecker are not expected to be ready for the start of camp.

Rogers is coming off reconstructive knee surgery after tearing ligaments last season and could start the season on the physically-unable-to-perform list. All of the injured players were spectators during the last two weeks of organized team activities, with most limited to jogging and light individual drills. Wide receiver Antwaan Randle El (knee), linebacker Rocky McIntosh (knee), safety Vernon Fox (knee) and rookie quarterback Colt Brennan (hip) are making strides and all should be fully participating at the start of camp, Zorn said.

McIntosh is also recovering from knee surgery but is scheduled to be medically cleared June 19, Zorn said. James is rehabbing from a second anterior cruciate ligament tear and Zorn said yesterday that it would be ambitious to try to have him practicing when camp opens. "We need to hold him back a little bit," Zorn said.

Randle El, who participated in minicamp in May, had surgery May 6 to remove floating cartilage in his right knee. He had hoped to recover in time to take part in the final eight workouts that ended yesterday, but his knee did not cooperate.

"It's coming along," he said. "I've been doing some jogging and a little sprinting, so it has been feeling better than what it had been [the first few weeks after the procedure], and that's a good sign.

"Would I rather be out there right now? No question about it, but we said we were going to be smart about it. We're going to take our time to make sure it's right for the season. That's the most important thing."

Brennan underwent hip surgery this offseason but he should be fully recovered in two to three weeks. Moore is also coming off of knee surgery and likely will miss the first few weeks of camp, Zorn said. Ecker underwent groin surgery Wednesday and likely will miss eight weeks.

Second-year cornerback Byron Westbrook is the only new addition to the injured list during this OTA session. Westbrook suffered a minor hamstring strain Wednesday but should recover before the start of camp.

Zorn Looks Forward

Zorn said he was pleased with what his team accomplished this offseason and is eagerly awaiting the start of his first season as an NFL head coach. He'll back away from the game for the next few weeks -- "I want to relax a bit with my family because I know what's coming," he said -- but will have his mind on the game as Redskins Park goes quiet for the next four weeks.

Zorn, who is instituting the West Coast offense, said the running game has been fully installed, as well as "a really good portion of the passing game." Zorn praised the effort of his players, saying there has been "no complaining" and "no moaning," and urged them to act professionally while away from the team these next few weeks, asking them to "be careful."

"They're grown men," Zorn said, "but some of them have more maturity than others."

Both Sides Now

Lorenzo Alexander spent last season toggling between the offensive and defensive lines, but spent the OTA sessions exclusively with the defense. However, that does not mean he won't be back on offense soon. The coaches told Alexander, who emerged as a valuable depth player in 2007, that they wanted him to focus on defense during OTAs as they continue to evaluate their young offensive linemen and make determinations about the roster. Come training camp, he could be taking part in drills on offense, too. Alexander is also a special teams standout who some coaches believe has the ability to be a starting lineman.

"Going back to defense is easy for me," Alexander said. "That's where I started and I fit right back in. But we'll see how it goes. In training camp and the preseason games, I might get some run on the offensive line, too."

Bugel Keeps It Going

Offensive line coach Joe Bugel is beginning his 31st season in the NFL, and he doesn't see his streak ending anytime soon. Bugel started his career as an offensive line coach with the Detroit Lions in 1975 and joined the Redskins in 1981, when he began molding the decade's dominating offensive lines. Starting in 2002, he took a two-year absence from football before rejoining the Redskins in his current capacity.

"I'm probably good until I'm 85. Maybe 100," he said. "I love those guys [I'm coaching]. I love being around them. They keep me young. They keep me vibrant. I tried to retire one time. I didn't enjoy it too much."

Also in the News

Cornerback Shawn Springs was not present for any of the final eight OTA sessions. Running back Clinton Portis and defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin were excused from OTAs this week and wide receiver Santana Moss missed the final two practices with the flu. . . . Zorn said he does not have a full day off planned for the players until after the preseason opener Aug. 3 against Indianapolis at the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. The players will get one evening off during the first two weeks of camp, Zorn said. . . . The Redskins did not employ referees during these OTA practices and Zorn said he will use officials only sparingly during training camp. Former coach Joe Gibbs had a team of referees on the field for every session. . . . The team signed safety Chris Horton, a seventh-round draft pick from UCLA and the first of this season's picks to sign, and released safety Justin Hamilton.

Staff writer Andrew Astleford contributed to this report.

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