Blache Will Have His Hands Full vs. Saints

By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 12, 2008

The topic of the day for Greg Blache, as it usually is midweek before a game, was stopping the opponent's offense -- and the New Orleans Saints' offense gave Washington's defensive coordinator plenty to talk about yesterday at Redskins Park.

Blache lauded running back Reggie Bush, calling him the best one-on-one player in the game, one of the best talents to come along in 20 years and a matchup problem for every defender in the league. The loss of Marques Colston means the Saints likely will sacrifice that possession receiver in exchange for more speed on the field, Blache said.

The talk of the defense, though, was former Redskins wide receiver David Patten. Blache called Patten "their home-run hitter," and said his injured knee, a problem in Washington, seems healed.

As for matchups, Blache said free safety LaRon Landry will stay in that role as a deep safety in pass coverage and will not move toward the line or defend Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey in man-to-man coverage. "That's not our plan," Blache said, which means Marcus Washington and Rocky McIntosh are going to be busy.

Overall, Blache said he expects to rotate his defensive linemen more than last week against the Giants, and Jason Taylor may not play as much as he did last week. Blache was adamant that he wants to get more action for linemen Demetric Evans, Erasmus James and Chris Wilson.

Show of Hands for DBs

The highlight of practice came at the end, when the defensive backs -- who dropped a spate of balls against the Giants -- ran through catching drills. Coach Jim Zorn, the three quarterbacks and assistant equipment manager Chris Collins (no relation to Todd) were stationed in a line, and the defensive backs started with their backs to the passers, turned to catch the first pass, then darted to the right and left to continue doing so, five times in all.

Most of the players fared well, though cornerback Fred Smoot dropped three balls the first time, before going back and catching all five. Carlos Rogers caught all five balls.

Zorn likes the drill because the ball comes from different angles and locations, mimicking game action, and is thrown by a quarterback rather than a machine. The defenders also have to break toward the ball late. "These are realistic things that happen in a game," Zorn said.

Line Affects Running Game

With the switch from Jon Jansen to Stephon Heyer at right tackle, the Redskins' offense loses a bit in the running game, at least in the short term. Heyer is still learning to be more aggressive at run blocking. With right guard Randy Thomas working his way back from a season-ending injury and trying to regain his form, the Redskins may end up running to the left side of the line early on. It has certainly appeared that they were comfortable running to that side in recent weeks.

"I think a lot of Stephon's game is still developing," center Casey Rabach said. "Stephon is a young, talented player and he definitely has some room for improvement. We just go out there with what we're dealt with. Can he get the job done? Yes. Can Jon get the job done? I still think so, but it is what it is and we've just got to move forward from this point on."

Practice Report

Running back Ladell Betts missed practice because of a death in the family, but will be back for practice today, Zorn said. . . . Tight end Chris Cooley (quadriceps) was limited in practice and took it easy at times as a precaution, Zorn said, but is set to play Sunday. . . . Linebacker Marcus Washington is dealing with a hamstring problem. Zorn said he expects him to play and is optimistic, but it will be a game-time decision. . . . Wide receiver Malcolm Kelly is "on his way" in his return from knee surgery, Zorn said. But the coach said the team still may keep him inactive against the Saints. . . . Safety Kareem Moore (hamstring) is not yet 100 percent, Zorn said, and he could need another weekend of rest before making his NFL debut.

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