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Springs a Sunday Decision

By Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 18, 2008

Cornerback Shawn Springs sat out practice yesterday, and Redskins Coach Jim Zorn said Springs would be a game-time decision tomorrow against the Cleveland Browns at FedEx Field.

"He couldn't practice today because he had some tightness in his calf," Zorn said of Springs, who participated fully in practice Thursday. "That'll be a game-time deal. He says he wants to play. I don't know if he'll be fit to play, but we'll see."

The fact that Springs suffered a setback Thursday probably does not bode well for his chances of playing against the Browns, Zorn acknowledged, "but I'm the optimist," he said. "I'm hoping."

With the exception of Springs, the Redskins had full participation in practice, Zorn said.

Running back Clinton Portis (hip), tackle Chris Samuels (ankle), safety Chris Horton (ankle), cornerback Carlos Rogers (calf), cornerback Fred Smoot (groin), linebacker Khary Campbell (calf), guard Pete Kendall (knee) and defensive end Jason Taylor (calf) are expected to play.

With the health of the team improving, rookie wide receiver Malcolm Kelly, who had a good week of practice, could be inactive again, Zorn said. Kelly has been active in two games as he has struggled to overcome knee problems and improve his route running.

Safeties in a Rush

Defensive coordinator Greg Blache had an aggressive game plan in last week's loss. But despite Blache having instructed rookie safeties Chris Horton and Kareem Moore to blitz often, those calls did not produce sacks.

While playing strong safety in his rookie season, second-year free safety LaRon Landry excelled at applying pressure on quarterbacks. He had only 1 1/2 sacks, but Landry often disrupted the quarterback's timing, forcing premature throws.

With third-year player Reed Doughty, who plays both safety positions, sidelined for the remainder of the year because of a back problem, Landry has volunteered to play up front again occasionally.

Landry last week spoke with safeties coach Steve Jackson about "trying to mix it up a little bit," Landry said. "For the most part, I try to stay in the middle of the field so that we don't give away no deep balls, but Coach Jackson and I have talked about mixing and matching the free and strong positions."

Ravens Might Rule the TV

There is a possibility that part of Redskins' game against Cleveland tomorrow may not be broadcast in the D.C. market based on rarely triggered rules in the contractual agreements between the NFL and its television partners. WUSA-9 is obligated to air the 1 p.m. game between Baltimore and Miami in its duration, or at least until "the outcome appears certain," which could potentially conflict with the Redskins' 4:15 p.m. kickoff at FedEx Field.

WUSA-9 had a statement on its Web site yesterday afternoon informing viewers of the potential conflict. According to the station, it would like to become a "mandatory pull out market" for the Redskins, giving it the ability to switch over to the Redskins at any time in the event of a conflict. But Washington is designated as a "secondary market" for the Ravens in the TV contracts and must air Ravens games to their conclusion in this situation.

The station said it will "continue to argue our case with the NFL" according to its statement, but the league indicated the legality of the contract does not permit much debate.

Blocking Key for Alexander

With Ladell Betts possibly sidelined a month because of a sprained left knee, the Redskins this week signed Shaun Alexander -- a former NFL MVP -- to fill a reserve role behind Portis. But even if Alexander displays flashes of his running form, he never was among the best blockers at his position.

Return specialist Rock Cartwright, considered effective in pass protection, could have an increased role on offense, and coaches said Alexander must block well enough to get on the field. If Alexander blocks ineffectively, the Redskins probably would lean more on Cartwright or tip their hand when Alexander comes in, indicating a running play.

Staff writer Jason La Canfora contributed to this report.

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