Redskins Notebook

Team Enters Game at Carolina With Depleted Linebacking Corps

The Post's Jason Reid reports on NFL's Gene Upshaw's death and legacy.
By Jason Reid and Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, August 22, 2008

Linebacker Marcus Washington missed practice yesterday to have his sore hip examined "as a precautionary assessment," Coach Jim Zorn said, but Washington still could play tomorrow against Carolina. And although the team was awaiting the test results, Washington's injury is not believed to be serious, the Redskins said.

"Let's remove any doubt that there's anything there, so he can free up and go out and play," Zorn said. "And that's what this is right now. It's going to be a game-time situation to see where he's at."

The Redskins, who are carrying eight linebackers, could be short-handed if Washington, the starting strong-side linebacker, sits out the game in Charlotte. Starters are expected to play most of the first half as Zorn stages a dress rehearsal for the regular season.

Backup linebacker Matt Sinclair said he does not expect to play after missing all week with what the team said were back spasms. "They don't really know yet" what has caused his pain, Sinclair said yesterday. "They did a full day of testing [Wednesday]. One of our team doctors that really specializes in this is out of town until Monday. I'm just going to take it easy this weekend because they don't really know."

Reserve linebacker H.B. Blades will be making his preseason debut after undergoing knee surgery last month, and starting weak-side linebacker Rocky McIntosh has been monitored closely in his return from season-ending knee surgery in 2007. The Redskins, who still are proceeding cautiously with McIntosh, have only four other linebackers on the roster.

A shortage of healthy linebackers could prompt defensive coordinator Greg Blache to play a nickel scheme -- an extra defensive back and one fewer linebacker -- as the base defense. "That might be giving away part of our [game plan]," Zorn said, "but that's something that you look at."

Thomas, Kelly Lagging Behind

Apparently, Zorn is not expecting rookie wide receivers Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly -- both second-round picks -- to contribute much early this season. Thomas and Kelly, who failed conditioning tests, are coming off injuries that occurred in training camp. "Not much right now," Zorn said of the rookies' chances of making an immediate impact in the regular season. "Realistically, not much. I can't say they're not going to produce at some point this season. They have to really step up to be able to start even getting the right to be on the field with the other three or four receivers that we're going to put out there."

Injuries, Etc.

Safety LaRon Landry (hamstring), tackle Todd Wade (ankle) and tight end Jason Goode (turf toe) are out. It is unlikely Kelly (knee surgery) will play, Zorn said. Kelly practiced in a limited role, and rarely at full speed, this week, and has been out virtually all of camp. "He didn't quite give me the full speed I need to see," Zorn said. . . . Tight end Fred Davis was again the last player on the field after practice, continuing to do extra work with tight ends coach Rennie Simmons. Davis was working on his footwork and technique making catches in the back of the end zone, and seems to be putting in the work needed to find a role in this offense.

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