Blache Gives His Rookies Helping of Sweet and Sour

By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 7, 2008

Defensive coordinator Greg Blache praised the work of several Washington rookies in Sunday's preseason opener but also was quick to point out their flaws. Blache said he saw flashes of what he wanted from safety Chris Horton, defensive end Rob Jackson and cornerback Matteral Richardson, though plenty of mistakes shone through on the game film.

"Rookies are fine and dandy, and I'm glad to see them progressing," said Blache, an especially blunt coach. "But I don't fall in love with rookies. You're better to fall in love with a stripper than a rookie, because they'll break your heart. They really will. We will give them some time and let them prove themselves if they are worthy of it."

Jackson, a seventh-round pick, had a sack Sunday but also was flagged for an offside penalty and was caught out of position on other plays. "I'm not totally impressed right now," Blache said. "He has to learn to play the game."

Blache did shower a few more compliments on Richardson, an undrafted free agent, and Horton, a seventh-round pick. Richardson showed good instincts and made an alert play to jump a passing route for an interception he returned for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Horton used his size and speed on two sacks and also recovered an onside kick on special teams.

"Playing time is like a rope," Blache said. "Some guys use it to pull themselves up on the team, and some guys get tangled up in it and hang themselves. Those two guys [Horton and Richardson] used it to help pull themselves up. They're taking advantage of the snaps they're getting, and if they continue to improve they've got a good chance of being a Redskin."

Patching Holes on Offensive Line

With backup tackles Todd Wade and Stephon Heyer out for at least two weeks with injuries, the Redskins put together a makeshift second-string offensive line yesterday. The group has little experience playing together but must establish some cohesion ahead of Saturday's game against Buffalo. The unit will be protecting backup quarterback Todd Collins for the better part of a half.

The Redskins practiced one player with extensive experience on the second-team line -- right guard Jason Fabini. Rookie Chad Rinehart played left tackle, with second-year Tavares Washington at left guard, third-year Justin Geisinger at center and undrafted rookie Devin Clark at right tackle. Rinehart, Washington and Clark do not have a game of regular season experience, while Geisinger has only two.

"It showed today, because our defense really took it to those guys" on the second-string line, Coach Jim Zorn said. ". . . Those guys have the whole week to work together, and they will be better as they get more reps."

Zorn said he will do his part to protect Collins -- probably a heavy dose of the running game and passes largely limited to quick routes and short drops -- to limit the likelihood of Collins getting sacked. Collins was hit hard a couple of times in the preseason opener.

Fletcher, Taylor Might Play

In general, Zorn said the starters will play sparingly Saturday, though some who sat out Sunday, such as linebacker London Fletcher and defensive end Jason Taylor, could play a few snaps. Taylor is taking full work with the defense now after using the first two weeks of camp to learn the defense and improve his conditioning following his trade to Washington on the first day of camp last month.

Safety LaRon Landry is not fully participating in practices while recovering from a hamstring injury and seems likely to sit out Saturday. Running back Clinton Portis is not scheduled to play Saturday, Zorn said, but will do so in a few preseason games. Starting defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin missed practice with back spasms and probably will sit out as well, Zorn said.

On the Rebound

Horton missed practice because of a stomach virus and is on antibiotics but will play Saturday, Zorn said. Cornerback Shawn Springs sat out because of a strained right Achilles' tendon but is expected to be fine. Rookie cornerback Justin Tryon said the sore toe on his left foot felt better in the afternoon. . . .

Blache made a point of saying incumbent defensive tackle Anthony Montgomery has by no means secured his starting spot for this season. Montgomery, who came back this week from a broken hand, unseated Kedric Golston as a starter in 2007, but Golston is closing on him.

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company