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Evans, James Ready to Fill Void

By Jason Reid and Paul Tenorio
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, August 28, 2008

With Washington Redskins Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Taylor possibly sidelined for the Sept. 4 season opener because of a sprained right knee, defensive ends Demetric Evans and Erasmus James said they are ready to take on bigger roles, if needed.

"I prepare every week to go play," said Evans, who is not expected to play tonight in Washington's last preseason game, against Jacksonville at FedEx Field. "Unfortunately for Jason, he did go down, but I've been in the situation a number of times."

Evans, who plays defensive tackle and defensive end, has filled in well in the past when end Phillip Daniels, who will miss this season with a knee injury, and tackle Cornelius Griffin were sidelined. "I stepped in both occasions," said Evans, in his fifth season with Washington, "so I wouldn't see the situation being any different."

Evans is expected to work in Taylor's spot with the first-team defense until Taylor returns from the injury suffered in last week's 47-3 loss to the Carolina Panthers. Washington's defensive starters will sit out against Jacksonville, Coach Jim Zorn said, but "we've got to get Erasmus some reps, so he'll be in playing."

The Redskins acquired James in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings in May. A first-round draft pick who has a history of major knee problems, James made his Redskins debut against Carolina.

James, who jumped offside in his first series, said he was encouraged about being back out on the field. "I felt a little rusty, footwork got me in some bad positions at times," James said. "But at the same time, my knee felt good and all you can do is work on it each and every week."

The Redskins were one of many teams that had James, an all-American at Wisconsin as a senior, rated among the best defensive ends in the 2005 draft. The Vikings selected James with the 18th overall pick, and he had four sacks and 28 tackles as a rookie.

During Week 2 of the 2006 season, James tore ligaments in his left knee and had season-ending surgery. And after playing sparingly early in the 2007 season, James injured his knee again and had another reconstructive procedure in December.

The Redskins acquired James for a conditional seventh-round pick. He must make the 53-man roster for Washington to send the pick to Minnesota, and James is expected to survive the final cuts Saturday.

James is under contract for two more seasons (he has salaries of $695,000 in 2008 and $1 million in 2009), and the Redskins gave up little to get him, so the move could work out well if James recovers and makes an impact.

If Taylor sits out the opener against the Giants, Evans would be the likely candidate to start opposite right end Andre Carter. But regardless of Taylor's availability, the Redskins' defensive line expects to play well.

"With how Greg Blache's scheme [works], men line up and it doesn't matter who you are," Carter said. "You line up and play, you have your assignments and you execute technique and that's it."

Olivadotti Stays in Fold

Gregg Williams, former assistant head coach-defense, may be gone, but most of his staff remains. Linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti was on Washington's staff before Williams arrived with former head coach Joe Gibbs in 2004, but Williams retained Olivadotti and promoted him to a position coach for the 2007 season.

When Nick Saban, who now coaches at Alabama, was head coach of the Miami Dolphins, he twice attempted to interview Olivadotti. Under NFL rules, the Redskins had the right to deny the requests, and Williams did. "He was just too talented," Williams said of Olivadotti during an interview last October. "And we had already invested, I had already invested an awful lot of time in him. I wanted him to stay with me, with us, as long as he can."

Although Williams played a key role in Olivadotti's coaching career, seeing Williams on the opposite sideline tonight won't be a big deal because "it's kind of part of the business," Olivadotti said. "Almost every week, you play against somebody that you've worked with or been associated with. We're all competitive and we all compete against each other. At one point or another, you really wind up doing it every week." . . .

An auction of some of the belongings of the late Sean Taylor will take place at 5 p.m. Sept. 5 at Brooks Auction Transfer in Bealton. Proceeds will go to his daughter's trust fund.

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