Donovan McNabb's injury isn't expected to sideline him, though Malcolm Kelly's injury could cost him a roster spot

The Washington Post's Jason Reid talks about the potential cuts the Redskins will make tomorrow, plus the condition of quarterback Donovan McNabb's ankle and the possibility of a playoff run.
By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 31, 2010; 12:51 AM

Monday began with a national media buzz that quarterback Donovan McNabb may not be ready for the Washington Redskins' regular season opener against the Dallas Cowboys. But while no one in the Redskins' locker room seems concerned that McNabb's sprained ankle will affect his availability for that Sept.12 matchup - "I think he'll be ready to go," former Pro Bowl fullback Mike Sellers said - there are now deeper issues regarding the health of third-year wide receiver Malcolm Kelly.

Kelly, who has not played in a preseason game, suffered a potentially serious setback in his attempt to make the roster when he further strained his already balky hamstring Monday, his first full attempt at practice since July 30.

Coach Mike Shanahan wasn't sure of the extent of Kelly's strain immediately after the Redskins' 90-minute workout, saying only that it "looked like it was a pretty good pull."

The injury was to the same left hamstring that has wiped out nearly all of Kelly's preseason, and it will almost certainly prevent him from appearing in Thursday's preseason finale at Arizona. That game was to be Kelly's lone opportunity to impress Shanahan and the rest of the new Washington coaching staff, which must cut the roster from 80 to 53 between now and Saturday evening.

"It's disappointing," Shanahan said. "He's gone over three weeks, 31/2 weeks getting it ready, and he feels like it's full-go, and it bothers him right away [in Monday's workout].

"Hey, there's nothing you can do about it. As we've talked about before: that's why you have a lot of players at a lot of different positions. . . . The people that are healthy and the people that go out there and prove themselves get a chance to make this football team and get a chance to help us win."

Kelly was not available to comment after practice, but as he has been relegated to side work while the rest of the Redskins learn Shanahan's offense he has repeatedly referred to his situation as "frustrating." Shanahan said Kelly had an MRI exam earlier in training camp, and that the test revealed no tear, only a pull.

"Obviously it must be a lot worse than we first thought," Shanahan said.

McNabb's ankle sprain may fall into that category as well, though none of the quarterback's teammates are acting like it's a big deal. Still, McNabb hasn't practiced since suffering the injury to his left ankle Aug. 21 against Baltimore. On Sunday, Shanahan called the situation "day-by-day" and said he did not know whether the 33-year-old would be ready to make his Redskins debut against Dallas.

Shanahan reiterated his "day-by-day" stance on Monday, a day when McNabb stretched with his teammates and watched practice without shoulder pads - but also without an ankle brace, though he did wear a sleeve on the lower part of his left leg. He moved on the field and in the locker room without a limp.

McNabb has not addressed reporters about his injury since last week, when he said it felt "a lot better" than immediately after the Ravens game. If there was any concern among Redskins' veterans that McNabb would miss the Dallas game - still 12 days away - they hid it well. What has already been lost, however, is practice time in Shanahan's new offense with the starting quarterback.

"Obviously the more somebody practices, the more in rhythm he's going to be," Shanahan said. "We all understand that."

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