By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Defensive end Erasmus James will make his Washington Redskins debut Saturday at Carolina, marking a milestone in his recovery from major knee surgery last December. James was unable to pass a physical when acquired from Minnesota in May, but was back at practice last week and will play with the second team this weekend, defensive coordinator Greg Blache said.
James, a former first-round pick, could be a key reserve this season if he progresses, but he also has a long history of injury setbacks. He is taking reps in practice with the reserves and will enter this game after the first team departs. (The starters are expected to play the first half.)
The goal all along was to have James ready for the start of the regular season, and with two preseason games remaining, there appears ample time to accomplish that.
"I see a guy with good strength and leverage," Blache said of James. "He's a guy with a good burst. He's got a good first step. He's got a good feel for the pass rush. That's why I'm anxious to see him in a game situation, an uncontrolled situation, where he can cut it loose and let it go."
Starting free safety LaRon Landry, who had an outstanding finish to his rookie season, is unlikely to play, with his hamstring still bothering him. Coach Jim Zorn said the injury, which has kept Landry out nearly a month, is being evaluated daily. With Landry still a relative neophyte in this defense, Blache said he hopes he can somehow make up for lost time.
"It's going to hurt us by not having him." Blache said. "How much, we have to wait and see. . . . It really does retard their growth."Taylor, Carter Improvise
New defensive end Jason Taylor said he and counterpart Andre Carter have been changing sides at times in practice, alternating as they see fit, but Blache is forbidding it in games.
Taylor said during his Pro Bowl career in Miami it was common to alternate sides based on matchups, but players do not have the freedom to flip-flop in Blache's system.
Taylor, speaking to reporters before practice, chuckled when asked if the coaches had given the ends the liberty to switch sides on their own, saying: "We'd just do it anyway. What are they going to say? They can yell at us."
Blache has deployed Carter and Taylor on the left and the right -- they have changed sides at the coach's request each series thus far in the preseason -- and said any such maneuvers during games will be at his discretion only.
"We do control playing time," Blache said. "And if they don't do our defense the way we want it done, then they can sit down and watch it. And that's Jason, that's Andre, that's any of them. They don't have the leeway to do what they want. It's bad on their part, and it's erroneous on their part if they think so."Quick Hits
Rookie wide receiver Malcolm Kelly (knee) did not take part in team activities, while tackle Todd Wade (ankle) and tight end Jason Goode (turf toe) remained out. Linebacker Matt Sinclair missed practice with back spasms but should play Saturday, Zorn said. Linebacker Marcus Washington is expected to practice today but has a minor hip flexor issue, Zorn said. . . .
Rookie tight end Fred Davis is doing extra work with tight ends coach Rennie Simmons during lunch breaks.
"We're making him, if you will," Zorn said. "He's a young player, he's very quiet, and he doesn't know what he doesn't know, and what he's going to know. . . . It's a real positive thing for Rennie, for him to have a guy that cares and wants to push him. We're not going to just let him be mediocre."