Rookie Receivers Will Miss Scrimmage

The Washington Post's Jason Reid previews Saturday's intra-squad scrimmage at Redskins Park. Video by Jason Reid/The Washington PostPhotos: Preston Keres & John McDonnell/The Washington Post, APEditor: Jonathan Forsythe/
By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Redskins will conduct an intrasquad scrimmage today without several of their prominent players, including two of their top draft picks. Second-round selections Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas are among the players being held out; both have hamstring problems, though Kelly's is less severe.

Thomas, Washington's top pick, is likely to miss at least a few weeks with his strain, while Kelly felt a knot in his hamstring during yesterday's physical morning practice and did not continue. Coach Jim Zorn said he hopes to have Kelly back on the field next week as the Redskins begin preparations for their preseason opener against Indianapolis.

"It happens now at this time of training camp where you've gone two-a-days," Zorn said. "We've really worn on these guys. They're trying to make the team, they're putting out maximum effort two times a day, and it's great work, but it wears on the body. This is that time where the bodies are tired, and we still have to continue to push because there's a lot of work to do, but the soreness is setting in.

"Once we get past the scrimmage and Monday and Tuesday, we'll be on a work week for our first preseason game. Things will start settling down; we'll bring these guys back."

Top safety LaRon Landry (hamstring), defensive end Chris Wilson (calf), safety Kareem Moore (knee), defensive end Erasmus James (knee), cornerback Carlos Rogers (knee), wide receiver Anthony Mix (hamstring), offensive lineman Kerry Brown (shoulder) and defensive end J.T. Mapu (knee) are not scheduled to play, either.

Starting defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin, who has battled myriad injuries in recent years, was also held out of drills yesterday with a sore left knee. Griffin said he was resting. "I'm all right," he said. "It's nothing major."

The Redskins are trying to curb the rash of muscle injuries that plagued the team in 2007 -- particularly hamstrings -- and are going to lengths in their stretching and rehab routines to try to buck that trend.

More Zone Blocking Ahead

In recent years the Redskins have implemented more zone-blocking schemes into their offense, and offensive coordinator Sherman Smith has made no secret about his intention to rely heavily on those stretch plays this season.

"In Tennessee we were a zone team, and we ran some power," Smith said. "We'll be that kind of run team here."

Running back Clinton Portis has the elusiveness and quickness to cut back, hit a hole and make defenders miss, and Smith and Zorn know their offensive linemen, when healthy, have the dexterity to execute those plays. That style has become increasingly popular and effective around the league.

"The zone scheme is nice because you create movement," Zorn said. "And if you've got a back that can cut and have good vision, he can actually pick maybe one of two or three holes to run in. Then if he makes a guy miss then he gets his yardage. We've got excellent instructors in Sherman and [running backs coach] Stump Mitchell to teach those concepts."

Guard Pete Kendall, who has a background in Seattle's zone scheme, said: "The zone schemes are becoming more and more the way you're going to run the ball, on the inside and outside. Most teams have it as at least part of the package, but the thing about zone blocking is you really have to rep it to get good at it. It's hard to just dabble in the zone scheme and be good at it. The more we do any one thing, the better we will be at it."

Wilson Carries a Rookie's Load

Wilson is no longer a rookie, but isn't above doing rookie work. Even though he was hurt and unable to practice, Wilson gladly carried the pads of veterans Griffin and Jason Taylor from the field yesterday afternoon. Griffin conceded Wilson indeed is no longer a pup, but said he needs to play three more NFL games before he gets out of pad-carrying duty.

Wilson took it all in stride: "With great power comes great responsibility," the gregarious youngster said. . . .

Taylor was a regular with the first team in 11-on-11 drills yesterday and should participate in the scrimmage today. He was acquired from the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

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