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DE James Feeling Better by the Day

By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Defensive end Erasmus James has been through enough knee injuries to know when he feels absolutely 100 percent. He's not there quite yet, but believes he is getting close.

James played in the Washington Redskins' final two preseason games in a limited role and is ready to play tomorrow in the regular season opener against the New York Giants. How much he will play remains to be seen. James was acquired from Minnesota for a seventh-round pick at a time when he was injured and had been placed on waivers.

The Redskins were thin at defensive end and he was a cheap solution. He is coming off season-ending knee surgery and trying to stave off any major setbacks.

"The biggest thing for me is just continuing to get better and get even . . . healthier," James said. "I'm not quite 100 percent yet, but I feel like every day I go out there and get better. That feels good."

James, a Bronx, N.Y., native has fought through a lot and aims to show the NFL that he can still be an elite talent worthy of his selection in the first round by the Vikings in 2005.

"I'm really appreciative and really glad with where I am right now," James said. "I know I'm going to have some opportunity at some point [tomorrow], and whenever that comes I'm going to make the best of it."

Evans Impresses

It's looking more and more like Demetric Evans will get a chance to play a whole lot tomorrow. With Jason Taylor missing practices, Evans has taken snaps with the defensive starters at left end and may continue to be a factor on running downs at left end even after Taylor returns.

Evans added muscle mass and upper-body strength this offseason, applying the power-lifting program used by injured teammate Phillip Daniels (generally considered the strongest player on the team) while maintaining his quickness and mobility. Evans has been a vital reserve throughout his four years here, and can play at defensive end or tackle. He is a key component of the nickel package as an inside pass rusher, and has been asked to drop back into coverage frequently as a defensive end, contributing to several big plays last season.

"I've never had a problem playing Demetric Evans anywhere, anytime, anyplace," said defensive coordinator Greg Blache, the defensive line coach in Washington the previous four seasons. "In [2005] when we had a good run, Demetric started a bunch inside . . . after he had worked at end. Demetric is what you call a true pro. He's a guy I trust. He's a young man whose mama raised him well, that's the only way I can put it. He's got it all together as a person and as a player, and I feel totally confident in him."

Evans has yet to be told anything explicitly about his role tomorrow, but is prepared for anything, he said. He could end up getting a heavy load between his work at defensive end and as a tackle in the nickel package. Anthony Montgomery and/or James could spell him inside.

Taylor '50-50'

Taylor tried several knee braces yesterday and was able to practice some. Zorn reiterated that his availability remains a game-time decision. "I'd say it's easily 50-50 whether he plays or not," Zorn said. If Taylor does play, Zorn said he anticipates a rotation at left end, given the two weeks of practice Taylor has missed. Structurally, Taylor's knee is fine, Zorn said, but "mainly it's an irritation" as Taylor deals with the bone bruise. . . .

Jason Campbell moved his locker, switching sides of the room to the first locker on the right hand side of the door, next to Byron Westbrook, LaRon Landry and some other defensive players, and on the opposite side of the doorway from Santana Moss and Clinton Portis. "Just making a little change," Campbell said. "It's my fourth year here and I'm ready to take off." Campbell's new locker was recently vacated by released safety Vernon Fox. . . .

Reserve linebacker and special teams captain Khary Campbell was able to practice fully with his thigh injury and said he's ready to go tomorrow. "I'm definitely playing," Campbell said. "I'm playing."

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