Thursday, August 6, 2009
It was a busy morning with the return of wide receiver D.J. Hackett and Joe Bugel's group rap session about the offensive line.
Hackett is a familiar face around the complex. The Redskins offered him a veteran-minimum contract before the 2008 season, which he rejected, and then extended another offer after his tryout during the most recent minicamp. He rejected that one, too.
But a roster spot opened when the Redskins reached an injury settlement with wideout Roydell Williams, so they again turned to Hackett. Still without a contract, Hackett joined the team and participated in the early practice.
Hackett was with Zorn in Seattle and knows Washington's offense well, which is why Zorn wanted him on the roster. Hackett has been a productive No. 3 receiver, but the five-year veteran had only 13 receptions for 181 yards last season for Carolina, which released him in February.
For his career, Hackett has 118 receptions for 1,575 yards and nine touchdowns.
"We had to have a receiver," Zorn said. "Hack knows the offense, he knows the terminology, [and] he was here before for a short time. He did great. He'll perform very well. He has been trying to get on a team. Some guys haven't had that fortune to get on a team, and now he's got a chance."
As for Bugel's take on the offensive line, he is pleased overall with the group's performance. Bugel acknowledged the defensive line has been ahead in camp, but "if we could ever block our defensive line, we'll be okay in the NFL," he said. "Our defensive line [has] warriors. It may take five guys to block Albert [Haynesworth]. They have a salty bunch over there.
"They've got great speed. You practice against that every day, you're going to get better, or you're going to get worse. We get a little bit better each day. Sometimes they don't touch 'em, sometimes we do touch 'em. But it's a great experience to have that kind of defense to go against on a daily basis."
Because of injuries, the first team has not had the number of reps together Bugel and Zorn would prefer.
Center Casey Rabach (calf), left guard Randy Thomas (sore knee) and right tackle Stephon Heyer (bruised knee) sat out practice. Heyer said an MRI exam Tuesday on his knee did not reveal structural damage and he would be reevaluated after a few days' rest.
"The guy who was having a banner camp was Stephon Heyer," Bugel said. "He got a little nicked in the goal-line drill. But he's really improved. This is his third year. I would expect him to be real good. He's doing a good job."
If Heyer or Pro Bowl left tackle Chris Samuels could not play during the season, the Redskins would turn to guard-tackle Jeremy Bridges, who took Heyer's place with the first group Wednesday. With Thomas out as well, second-year guard Chad Rinehart lined up next to Bridges.
"I'm concerned about Randy," Bugel said. "Randy's had some problems. He's having a little problem with his knee right now. Rabach had a little bit of a calf thing. Rather then push them through, the young kids got a real chance to play."
In addition to the problems offensive linemen have had trying to slow down their defensive counterparts, they also have struggled against the blitz packages being shown by the first-team defense.
"Against our defense, we're having some problems when our ones go against their ones and it's a blitz," he said. "When they're bringing 11 guys and 11 guys have to match up, it gets a little tough, a little hairy."
The media and fans need to relax about the offensive line's play, Bugel said.
"I don't know why everybody's really concerned about right tackle. That aggravates me," he said. "We got great candidates there. Heyer's played there, he's started there. Bridges has started in the league right there. We're not destitute at that position."
-- D. THOMAS, NOT YET: As for Devin Thomas, after sitting out all of Tuesday and again Wednesday morning, the wide receiver said he felt ready to return to practice Wednesday afternoon. Coaches were being extra cautious, though, and wanted him to wait. Thomas, who has been nursing a sore hamstring, said he hopes to be wearing pads when the team practices Thursday morning.
"It's one of those things that's been hurt before so it gets sore sometimes," he said. "You just want to be smart and make sure it doesn't pull. There's no point in me getting set back, especially after last year, so we just want to stay on top of it, so that doesn't happen."
-- Jason Reid and Rick Maese