Taylor Not Ruled Out for Opener, Would Like to Play

By Jason Reid and Paul Tenorio
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Encouraged because his right knee injury is not as serious as initially feared, Washington Redskins defensive end Jason Taylor said he still hopes to play in the season opener Sept. 4 against the New York Giants at Giants Stadium.

"In a perfect world, I'd like to play Thursday, but it doesn't count, so I won't be there Thursday for sure," Taylor said yesterday of the final preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at FedEx Field. "After that it's live games, and I'm not one for missing games."

Taylor sprained his right knee in the first half of Saturday's 47-3 loss to the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. X-rays taken during the game were negative, and an MRI exam Sunday did not reveal tendon damage, the Redskins said, so Taylor, 33, could be back Sept. 2.

The Redskins are expected to exercise caution with Taylor, who could be out at least two weeks from when the injury occurred. That would jeopardize his streak of starting in 130 straight regular season games. Although Taylor did not need crutches, he wore a bulky brace to immobilize his knee.

"I'm still in a big brace because it won't support itself yet, but we have some time," Taylor said. "The next few days will tell a lot."

The Redskins acquired Taylor, who last missed a game in 1999, on the first day of training camp after defensive ends Phillip Daniels and Alex Buzbee suffered season-ending injuries. In the first half Saturday, his leg became entangled in a pile ("I tried to pull my leg out and couldn't get it out with the fat guys in there," Taylor said), and his teammates encircled him and prayed as Washington's medical staff tended to Taylor.

"It's scary getting stuck in a pile like that and things happen," Taylor said. "We understand it's the game of football, but thank God it's not as bad as I thought."

Two Redskins officials flanked Taylor as he limped off the field under his own power. Taylor was examined on a training table before being carted to the locker room for X-rays.

"At that point, you just want to figure out what's wrong and get off the field so everyone could stop staring at you," he said. "But it took a lot longer that I had hoped."

While Taylor was on his back on the field, he was told "everything seemed stable, and it wasn't anything big," he said. "But you never know until you get the MRI, and the MRI was promising. There were some things in there but nothing bad. I'm happy to be able to come back and play. At what point, we'll have to wait and see."

Although the streak is important to him, Taylor said he would be smart about his rehab. "It's something you take pride in because you don't miss games," said Taylor, who was slowed in practice recently because of plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the tissue running across the bottom of the foot. "I've been beat up before during the seasons, nicks and bruises. It's a part of the game.

"But to be able to play through those things, and always show up on Sundays, it's something I do take pride in. But some things are out of your control, too. There are a lot of guys in here that would like to never miss a game. Unfortunately, for them, they can't always do that. So we'll see. I don't want to miss one now, but some things are out of our control."

During the streak, Taylor said he has played with a broken arm, broken thumbs and knee injuries. "I put a cast on" the broken arm, Taylor said. "I do want to be back, but I have to be smart, too, because it's a long year. If it's not right, it's just not right."

Good Game for Frost

One player who may have benefited from the offense's dismal performance in the Carolina loss was incumbent punter Derrick Frost. Frost, who is locked in a battle with sixth-round draft pick Durant Brooks for the starting job, averaged 51.3 yards on eight kicks. He boomed several punts, including a long of 65 out of the back of his end zone early in the first quarter.

"I feel good about it," Frost said of the performance. "Obviously you can always do better, but I feel for the most part, for it only being my second game I hit the ball fairly well."

For now, Frost leads Brooks numbers-wise, averaging 45.5 yards per kick on 12 attempts to Brooks's 44.2 yards on 10 kicks.

Saturday may have been the six-year veteran's last chance to set himself apart, with Coach Jim Zorn saying the two punters are expected to rotate kicks Thursday.

"It's coming down to the nitty-gritty," Zorn said.

Sinclair Cut

Linebacker Matt Sinclair has been released by the team because of a back injury. "It's going to be at least three months, so they had to make room on the roster," Sinclair said, adding he has been told he has three fractures in a lumbar vertebra. "I just felt that Monday after the Jets game" on Aug. 16, he said. "I was dropping back in pass coverage and when I stepped over I felt it." . . . The team also released wide receiver Burl Toler ahead of today's 4 p.m. deadline for reducing rosters to 75. . . .

In the wake of Saturday's loss, Zorn told offensive starters they will play Thursday, a decision with which veterans agreed. "Yeah, no doubt we have to do this," wide receiver Antwaan Randle El said. "With the way we played, it's just the right thing to do."

Players said Zorn did not specify how many series they can expect to play. They'll game plan for the first two series, but if they prolong a drive, it could be one. Struggles weren't limited to the offense Saturday, but defensive starters will not play Thursday. "Obviously we didn't need to see the game tape to know we didn't play well," London Fletcher said. . . .

Tackle Jon Jansen said his foot is a little bruised. "No doubt in a couple of days, it'll be fine," Jansen said. He said he expects to be ready for the opener. . . . Free safety LaRon Landry, who has not played in preseason because of a hamstring injury, is expected to sit out against Jacksonville.

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