With Injuries Piling Up, Youth May Be a Factor

By Jason Reid and Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, July 28, 2008

The Washington Redskins could be without several players Sunday as they kick off the NFL preseason schedule against the Indianapolis Colts in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio.

Defensive end Phillip Daniels and reserve end Alex Buzbee suffered season-ending injuries on the first day of training camp July 20 and the injuries have only mounted over the week. Starting defensive tackle Anthony Montgomery and linebacker Rian Wallace broke bones in their right hands in Saturday's intrasquad scrimmage at Redskins Park. Scheduled to undergo surgery today, Montgomery and Wallace could be out a month.

Rookie wide receiver Devin Thomas, the Redskins' top draft pick, also has been ruled out of the first game because of a strained hamstring and rookie wide receiver Malcolm Kelly, who has been impressive early in camp, also has a hamstring injury. Rookie safety Kareem Moore (knee) has not participated in drills recently and running back Eric Shelton (stinger) was out yesterday.

Few veterans were expected to play in the preseason opener, and Coach Jim Zorn and his staff could be forced to juggle things even more than they initially envisioned.

"It's difficult because what gets created is the lines [on the depth chart] are smaller out there," Zorn said. "The rotation gets messed up on who [plays], they work harder and you don't get to see the guys who are injured.

"You can't evaluate because they're injured, they're sitting on the sideline, so it makes practice very difficult. That's really why our training staff works overtime. They try to put it in high gear . . . to try to get these guys back out when it's safe."

Zorn acknowledged he was concerned about the limitations the Redskins could face because of injuries.

The Redskins probably will have to play more of the "younger guys, the guys who haven't had enough reps to do the right things on Sunday," Zorn said. "We'll try to get them up to speed, and if they do get in it'll be in a very limited fashion. I can't predict who's going to be there for us yet at the end of this week."

Fletcher's a Good Listener

Middle linebacker London Fletcher will be the Redskins' defensive player this season designated to have a speaker in his helmet. Each team is permitted to have two defensive players with speakers in their helmets, but only one player in the game can be wired. The second helmet, league officials said, would be kept on a box in the sideline.

At this point, however, the Redskins do not plan to designate a second player, Zorn said.

"We feel like London is an every-down player," Zorn said. "What's going to happen is, if the second guy goes in and London is not in there, we'll either get that guy fitted, whoever that is, we'll fit him right there. But we're not going to have a designated second mike."

Defensive coordinator Greg Blache worked with the new system in the scrimmage. It could take a while for Blache to get comfortable with it, Zorn said.

"Greg ended up just using signals," Zorn said. "He's got a learning curve ahead of him. It's very funny to watch. I'm glad we did it. He's going to be better as we go along."

Fitch, Matua Signed

The Redskins released guard Kerry Brown and signed defensive tackle Zarnell Fitch and guard Fred Matua. Brown recently strained his left shoulder and was expected to be out one to two weeks. Fitch (6-3, 320) was with Baltimore last season. Matua (6-2, 310) was with Tennessee and Cleveland in the 2006 season.

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