By Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Washington Redskins rookie wide receiver Malcolm Kelly underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee yesterday and is expected to be out about two weeks.
The sixth player to have surgery during training camp, Kelly was limited in practice last week after injuring his hamstring on July 25. He was held out of Sunday's 30-16 preseason victory over the Indianapolis Colts in the Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio, and Washington's medical staff recently shifted its focus to Kelly's knee, a team spokesman said before the game. Team orthopedist James Andrews performed the procedure in Gulf Breeze, Fla.
"It has been kind of stiff," Coach Jim Zorn said of Kelly's knee while meeting with reporters yesterday at Redskins Park. "We do things as soon as we can if there is a problem, and that's why" the Redskins had Andrews evaluate Kelly.
Drafted out of Oklahoma, Kelly, one of the team's three second-round picks, was among the Redskins' most impressive rookies early in camp, coaches and players said. He made a good impression with his receiving and blocking skills while playing the X receiver, or split end position. Kelly had several acrobatic catches on deep balls from quarterback Jason Campbell and was physical on running plays in 11-on-11 drills.
With top pick Devin Thomas, who has started out at the Z receiver, or flanker, also sidelined because of a strained hamstring, Zorn acknowledged the receiving corps was thin in the game. Zorn, also the play-caller, relied more on base packages instead of three- and four-receiver sets and used tight ends to compensate for the shortage of wideouts.
After giving players the day off yesterday, Zorn and the coaching staff today will install the game plan for Saturday's preseason home opener against the Buffalo Bills. It appears Zorn will have to continue to juggle wide receivers.
"Devin Thomas, I don't think he'll be ready this week," Zorn said. "He was just getting to the stage where he could start running last week. And for him, I just think he needs another week."
Because of the complexities of the Redskins' version of the West Coast offense and the inevitable learning curve of rookies in the NFL, Zorn said Thomas and Kelly would be far behind the other wideouts when they come back. The Redskins selected Thomas, Kelly and pass-catching tight end Fred Davis with their top three picks, and there is an opening for a No. 3 wide receiver behind starters Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El.
Although Zorn said the staff would do what it could to help the rookie wideouts get up to speed, he acknowledged the pace quickens as the regular season draws nearer, leaving fewer opportunities for repetitions in practice behind the starters.
Injuries have mounted since camp began. Defensive ends Phillip Daniels and Alex Buzbee suffered season-ending injuries on the first day. Linebackers H.B. Blades and Rian Wallace and starting defensive tackle Anthony Montgomery also have had surgery.
In the Hall of Fame game, tackle Stephon Heyer sprained his right knee, and tackle Todd Wade, who was carted off having "sprained an ankle," Zorn said. "I don't know [if it is] a high ankle or a low ankle, [but] nothing with major injuries; just bumps and bruises. We're really excited about that."
Zorn also was excited about his first experience as a primary play-caller at this level. The first-team offense needed three plays to score a touchdown on the opening drive, and the top three quarterbacks -- Campbell, backup Todd Collins and rookie Colt Brennan -- completed 19 of 21 passes for 216 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
"A majority of it was what we wanted," Zorn said. "The quarterbacks were trying to throw on rhythm, the receivers were trying to get to their spots with efficiency, running hard, [and] I thought the efforts were good. We had a couple of very fortunate catches. Or I should say risky throws and very fortunate catches."
Brennan impressed by rallying the Redskins to the victory with two touchdown passes in his first professional outing. He completed 9 of 10 passes for 123 yards but "had a couple of plays where they could have gone either way," Zorn said. "Those are things that he can learn from. He has to become a more disciplined quarterback; not risk as much as he risked in the game. It turned out to be great for us, a great performance, but it could have easily been the other way."
Zorn was not overwhelmed or nervous in his head-coaching debut, and he learned a lot about his administrative duties. "If I didn't know some of the things it was how to work [with] the officials pregame," he said. "All the discussions, all the things we have to write down, all the things I have to sign off on to make sure we're following the league rules. Those are new because I've never done 'em before but it wasn't difficult."
The Redskins and Colts held out many key players. Washington's first-team offense and defense finished their work early. The Redskins are off to a good start, but they still have many rough edges, Zorn said.
"I hope everybody would realize that I don't think we could take the week off and [say], 'Gosh, we got it made now,' "Zorn said. "The thing is that that was a start. It's going to get tougher and tougher down the road."