Thursday, Nov. 13, Noon ET

Redskins Insider

Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 13, 2008; 12:00 PM

Washington Post staff writer Jason La Canfora was online Thursday, Nov. 13, at Noon ET, to take your questions about the Redskins.

A transcript follows.

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Jason La Canfora: Hey there guys, hope you are staying dry and warm. Just got inside from practice. Pretty ugly out there.

Thanks for putting up with the change in time slot - we had to switch when the Skins changed their practice and interview schedule - and I look forward to the questions.

Dallas week.

Let's get er going.

Elliott Smith - "Oh Well, OK"


Denver, Colo.: Jason,

Thanks for taking my question. Do you hear anything from the team members about Malcolm Kelly as a player? With his knee problems you'd think he must be flashing some sort of potential or he would've been IR'd by now.

Jason La Canfora: He opened some eyes with ability in the slot and the red zone during offseason work and a few practices in training camp, but he hasn't ever really been right since then and he has a history of knee problems.

It was a big red flag for lots of teams in the draft and and him a gamble. He's likely looking at another exploratory surgery at some point whenever his season ends, Zorn has said, and it's something they need to get figured out. If it's something that dogs him long-term, at that position, then you've got a worry.

Certainly he has some physical attributes that are sorely lacking in this offense now at that position, and it's not like there are Jerry Rice's out there on the street right now and they took him so high that they want to give it every chance of happening for him this season.

But decision day is coming.

x - "Soul Kitchen"


Baltimore, Md.: You mentioned gadget plays. With Portis likely out and Moss limping I think it's a must that the coaching staff pulls some tricks out of the bag. We would be hard pressed to play the same style of football in this second meeting with the potential loss of Portis and Betts and other injuries to key personnel. Here's hoping Zorn keeps things interesting and the Redskins get a must-win at home in front of a rowdy and revved up crowd!

Jason La Canfora: I agree, though I think you need to stick with the run. If Campbell drops back to throw 40 times like the Pitt game without Portis or Betts helping protect him, I don't like that recipe.

Moving pockets could be big. Rolling him away from Ware. Maybe a little Wildcat or a reverse for Thomas. There needs to be a few wrinkles for sure, but I think even with Alexander or Cartwright (or sellers, though Zorn does not like him running the ball) you need to show a commitment to the run. Dallas isn't a dominate run D team.

The Beach Boys - "You Still Believe In Me"


Dale City, Va.: Jason what's goin on man? Hey this is Justin from I met you before Game 7 of the Caps-Flyers series. Hey I know this is the least of your worries, but do you know what uniforms the Skins are wearing on Sunday. I hope they are wearing white.

Jason La Canfora: Hey brother, hope all is well. Good to hear from you.

I got a few of these questions and keep forgetting to ask. Not sure the players have even decided yet to be honest but I'll try to find out.

Good luck with the writing.


Fairfax, Va.: The Cowboys haven't won at FedEx for the past 3 seasons, and I believe the Redskins have won their last 5 of 7 against Dallas. Do you think that some their recent success against Dallas has to do with the team and the fans being more hyped and into this rivalry than Dallas is? After Dallas dominated the Skins in the mid 90's to the early 2000's, the intensity of the rivalry on Dallas's part seemed to diminish while it increased for the Redskins. Simply, the Redskins get up for this game more than Dallas does and it has shown on the field in recent years.

Jason La Canfora: Hmmm. I'm not sure. I mean in certain cases the games meant nothing for Dallas and everything to the Skins - Week 17 of last season for instance - but it's generally a very big game and very competitive as well.

The first meeting is usually in September when everyone is in the hunt and second meeting is usually in the stretch run. I think the Skins have taken it to them at times, and in other games - like the Brunell to Moss MNF game - just found a way to win even when they were getting outplayed. Kudos to them.

Ministry - "NWO"


Mike Sellers: With CP most probably out, Ladell probably out. Can I get some carries on Sunday? I promise I will carry the ball as violent as garbage truck without brakes, a la Brandon Jacobs.

Jason La Canfora: Zorn ain't with it, and I agree.

Mike, there have been some close calls with the ball in your hands, sometimes in short yardage you seem to not have a great feel for when to if to leap and where the first down marker is and there have been a few near fumbles too (including that one on the goal line you got away with vs. the Eagles in 05).

You are too important opening holes for other people - especially if Alexander carries the load, since he is still learning this blocking scheme - and with no Betts or Portis you will be vital in pass protection.

I smell a few safety valve passes to you, but I don't think many carries. Perhaps in a special situation, on an inside dive, but I don't think it's your strong suit. You know I'm a fan of the way you play - been giving you props on the blog since Day 1 - but you are very valuable, but I see where Zorn is coming from here.


Oakton, Va.: Hi Jason,

I see a lot of people saying with Deangelo Hall here now we can simply move Shawn Springs to safety -- but isn't his salary cap number getting rather quite large -- and from past history Springs does not like to renegotiate. Maybe the Hall acquisition was more of a sign that this is Springs last year with the team due to salary cap considerations?

Jason La Canfora: It's more of an in-season option. Springs is likely in his last season here. I don't see the Skins picking up his entire contract for next season and I don't see him renegotiating unless he gets more term tacked on.

And with the Skins maybe looking at Hall in the offseason, and with Rogers's contract up after 2009, I don't see it happening here. Maybe if there's nothing more attractive on the free agent market he comes back, but I think it's doubtful. He will be a heck of a safety I believe, though.

Blondie - "Sunday Girl"


Brunswick, Ma.: Jason,

Thanks for these chats. I seem to remember Rock Cartwright running for a buck fifty a couple of years ago when he started at tailback. It seems to me whenever he's gotten the chance, he's done well. But the FO keeps bringing in T.J. Ducketts and Shaun Alexander when depth is needed ... what is the beef with Rock as a tailback?

Jason La Canfora: He did go off on the Rams in 06 and had a 100 yard game once before that as well.

I know his fumbling was a concern at times with the former regime - he had a costly one at KC a few years back - but I agree that as a change-of-pace, 5-10 carry guy he could be fine. Than again, I'm a Rock guy.


Flat Top Nation, USA: Hey Jasno, what's it going to take to get some of these 2nd round pass catchers on the field? I see other rookies producing for other teams, how come ours can't get in the game? I've heard all the tired excuses about how they don't know the routes, etc. ... but at some point don't you have to throw these guys out there and let them learn on the job?

Jason La Canfora: They have gotten nothing out of them, for sure, and indeed the time is here to get it going. It's been a badly missing element of the offense and other kid WRs are breaking out of that second round all over the place.

They have been out there. At some point they need to make a play (or in Kelly's case get healthy)

The Stooges - "Loose"


Woodbridge, Va.: Hey Jason -- Hopefully this week there is more Redskins fans there than Cowboy fans. I was at last weeks Monday night game and it was not only disgusting but downright embarrassing. Anyway, is Jason Taylor going to play and if so do you think he will be affective.

Jason La Canfora: He will be playing and all sides agree that he's looking and feeling much better, so I guess all the 60 percent stuff is in the past now. It's time for him to make a play now. They've gotten nothing out of their ends this season. Same old story there.

If it's me I'm riding with Demetric Evans and using Taylor as a nickel guy, but I've been saying that since the summer.


Charlottesville, Va.: The Pitt game was the first game since the Giants game that Zorn looked out coached. There were no short passes, no screens, no swings out of the backfield, and only one deep shot all game. It was ugly and looked like they were trying to get JC killed by waiting all game for a double move to work. You mentioned rollouts and gadgets, any mention of the traditional WC offense stuff like slants and quick hitters to let guys run after the catch, Thrash may not be a burner but he has good hands and is tough, it seems like our best bet this week is to let JC throw against a bad secondary and probably without Portis.

Jason La Canfora: Dick LeBeau had Zorn's lunch in that one, I agree, and that's pretty much what I wrote in my column. Why they kept going 4-wide against that particular defense, especially when half of those 4 receivers showed no ability to make a play, was bizarre. I thought he was going to get JC killed, too.

I think you can spread Dallas more and attack them more deep. As for the 3 step stuff, that's not who Jason is and at that stage in the evolution of the offense I don't expect to see too much of that.

Skatalites - "Come Dung"


Washington, D.C.: Marcus Mason?

Jason La Canfora: On the Jets active roster. Signed by them off Baltimore practice squad last month. Been inactive for two games. Maybe he'll make the game-day roster tonight at the Pats.


Riva, Md.: Why doesn't the Redskins carry a wide-out like Wes Welker to catch automatic 7 yard hooks?

Jason La Canfora: They hoped Kelly could work in the slot somewhat in that vein. Thrash can do some of that too, but he doesn't have much explosion in his game at this stage.


Beantown, Mass.: Jason,

Any insight on how D. Hall has been fitting in with the rest of the crew? Also, what is your take on the role of Springs this Sunday if he does in fact play? Thanks.

Jason La Canfora: It's really early. Really early.

So far so good but we're talking 48 hours.

I don't expect any major incidents, but we'll see how he adapts to the group and what his teammates think of him over time. And, most importantly, how he performs on the field.


Waldorf, Md.: Jason, You failed me. I asked you during training camp to find out if Zorn would ever opt for the red jerseys at home. You could have warned me about those hideous burgundy-on-burgundy uniforms they wore against the Steelers. I could've worn protective goggles. I don't know what hurt my eyes worse, the ugly uniforms or all of those terrible towels waving about.

Jason La Canfora: I'll take the hit, bro. No worries.

I think I did ask Zorn, but problem is he doesn't care, and he's leaving it up to the players much as Gibbs did.

Wire - "It's So Obvious"


Chantilly, Va.: Hey Jason, In regards to CP's injury its a MCL sprain, I mean for a RB, they usually out a couple weeks with that. DO you think he should even play. I mean I know this is a BIG game but we also know there's still more games to play. As much as I want him out there its gonna be a TOUGH game.

Jason La Canfora: Well, they will say that game day is two weeks from the date of injury. And Clinton is a warrior on game day.

Zorn said that if he's still 60-70 percent on Sunday he wont play ... But if he's feeling better than that and especially if he embraces a knee brace, I think he could get a look. I have a hunch - just a hunch - that he will dress and play a limited role. Nothing more than a guess.

Duran Duran - "Hungry Like The Wolf"


Rockville, Md.: JLC-

Redskins rally towels, really, Mr. Snyder, really?

Jason La Canfora: Is that not the lamest thing you have ever heard?

Oh what innovation and imagination.

We got embarrassed on national TV by flag waving fans from Pittsburgh, so let's hand out white flags at our next game.



Raleigh, N.C.: Hey Jason,

A lot has been made about the lack of impact by Devin Thomas, but to do that, they have to actually throw him the ball, right?

He's a rookie, so I understand he's going to make some mistakes. But man, seems like the Redskins could use his play making abilities. Any chance he gets more than 1-2 balls to come his way this week?

Jason La Canfora: He has to prove he wants to learn the offense, run the right right, hit his marks ... Otherwise people won't trust him. A few feet out of place and the ball is picked and possible taken to the house. And you also have to get open.

With the margin of error so slim, they Skins can't afford many mistakes, especially picks. And far too often he is not in the right spot.


Chantilly, Va.: Jason, Can we finally get Devin in and get him some REAL reps. I mean is he in the dog house or is he still behind that much? I mean he's getting in more lately but does he even play a quarter of the plays yet? I love thrash but I am tired of seeing his as our No. 3 receiver. Also what's up with Fred Davis??? Thought he was the most polished

Jason La Canfora: Just covered Thomas, again.

Trust me people, if they were tearing it up in practice and looking like breakthrough players, they would be on the field. Cerrato surely wants them to play after going hog wild drafting pass catchers and it's not like they are carrying 8 WRs and have a ton of other options.

Nobody is trying to hold them back. You're either making plays and earning trust or your not.

As for Davis, with the Skins running so much it's more of a blocking thing there. And he's stuck behind some pretty good TEs, which was the case when he was drafted.

Arctic Monkeys - "Still Take You Home"


Washington, D.C.: Any updates from Redskin Park on what the players though, on or off the record, about LaVar's blasting of Gibbs as a coward and how Snyder is scared to death of him?

Jason La Canfora: Nothing they didn't expect. LaVar made it pretty clear what he thought of those guys even while he was still here.

Haven't heard a word about it.


Burke, Va.: What's your favorite name for the "Rally Rag"?

"Snyder's Schmattes"

"Burgundy Babushkas"

"Danny's Diapers"

Seriously. Has there ever been a lamer outright THEFT of another team's tradition than the "Rally Rag"?

And I'm not even going to the other uses of the word, "rag."

Jason La Canfora: Ridiculously weak.

That'll show those Steelers fans.

I guess it's a copy-cat league in more ways than one, eh?


Anonymous: Jason, thanks for chatting.

I thought they were going to make a decision on Kelly this week. Are they going to wait another week on this guy? I mean, we all know where this is going. Why not put him on IR and be done with it?

Any talk about bringing Billy McMullen back in. Dude runs good routes and has good hands.

Jason La Canfora: Kelly is going to be pushed hard all week in practice - he's out there now even in this much - and then they'll decide over the weekend about his status for Sunday night and then, ultimately, whether or not to put him on IR.

I wouldn't expect anything until the weekend on that at the earliest.

Then next Tuesday they could work out guys like McMullen, Mix, Colbert if they are still on the street and sign someone. They also could promote from the practice squad, with two WRs there.

Afghan Whigs - "Hey Cuz"


New York, N.Y.: Of all the guys who have missed practice or been limited in practice so far, who do you think plays? Give us your best guesses.

Jason La Canfora: I think Springs is gonna go for sure. Taylor is back. I think Marcus and Montgomery are not looking good. Samuels and Moss are playing.

I think Betts and Portis will come down to warm-ups, and as I said earlier, I have a sense that Portis is active. Again, I am totally guessing here and obviously 3 days away from the game and them making a decision, no one knows for sure.


Washington, D.C.: I was at practice yesterday. Malcolm Kelly looked great -- and healthy. Just like he did in camp. Was very encouraged. I noticed that a couple other beat guys reported on this, but you didn't. Were you not there, or has your belief that the skins should sign Billy McMullen led you to ignore MK? I love your stuff, JLC, but when you reported how well McMullen played in Seattle I knew something stunk. He was the number two receiver there and you compared his stats (a whopping seven catches) to guys on the Skins who never got on the field. I hate Cerrato too, but that was just bush league.

Jason La Canfora: Dude are you nuts?

No other reporter saw Kelly do anything - because we don't get to watch practice other than stretching.

I love a good conspiracy theory, but you are kidding yourself.

It was Wednesday - they are making a decision this weekend based on how he does all week in practice. We have chronicled this all season and will continue to do so.

Also, I never said the Skins should sign McMullen, just pointed out what he did before getting hurt, and has 8 yards fewer than Thrash, Kelly and Thomas combined.

If you can't get your draft picks on the field, that's a team problem, not a me problem.

I like Malcolm and hope he gets over this and has a nice career. He's a good kid. In the interim, they'd better figure out another option or two, because they red zone offense has been horrible (Zorn is harping on this).

Tommy Dorsey - "Shadows On The Sand"


Pensacola, Fla. : Assuming Kelly's knee is a bust, what is the probability that we don't sign a WR off the market and instead promote one of our two Practice Squad WR?

Jason La Canfora: They could certainly go that route.

The fact that are two guys who know the system and who have some size still out there - Mix and McMullen - and another guy with experience in the league and in Seatlle's system also out there - Keary Colbert - and given the Skins want some immediate help, I would think they would at least work a few guys out before making a decision whether or not the kids on the squad are better than what's out there right now.

Frank Black - "I Burn Today"


Richmond, Va.: I recommend that the 'Skins sign JaVale McGee as their third WR until Thomas and Kelly progress. Can you plant a seed with your boy Vinny?

Jason La Canfora: Hells yeah. I'll pass it along when we go out for coffee later.


Boston, Mass.: How much impact do you expect Roy E. Williams to have in the game on Sunday? and do you think that he will become a greater threat than TO or just a terrible trade by J.J.?

Jason La Canfora: I actually think he is going to be a bigger issue than TO in this game. He's been in Dallas for a few weeks now, got a handle on the offense during the bye week, gets to play with a legit QB now in Romo.

TO's game is slipping and while he stepped up last season, he's not nearly what he was in San Fran. He's not a quick-twitch, double-move, beat you over the top guy anymore. And when he does make those plays it's due to a coverage blowup in Cover-2, usually, not based on his pure speed, athleticism, etc.

I think Roy might end up becoming the primary guy there sooner rather than later, and I'm not sure how TO would handle that. I think Jason Garrett needs to start thinking about it.

The Cure - "Why Can't I Be You?"


South Riding, Va.: Jason,

KILLER blog! So informative and insightful. Love it, love it, love it.

Question: Can the Redskins win without Portis/Betts? If so, how?

Jason La Canfora: I think so. Dallas has had trouble on defense, both in coverage and against the run. They have a lot of guys still trying to get their timing back on offense after absences. The Skins generally do a nice job on Barber and Romo will put it up there into traffic looking to make a play.

It's not a game where they can afford to drop potential picks - especially without Portis or Betts - but I don't think it's a lost cause by any means.


Anonymous: Will Shaun Alexander be exposed this week? The guy tip toes like a 230 lb ballerina!

Jason La Canfora: Well, I think it's too late for that, because that was part of the reason he sat out there so long as a free agent.

I haven't seen much out of him yet in a very limited role, but look at the free agent market at RB. Denver is bringing back guys like Bell who got caught stealing teammates stuff in Detroit and who as working at a cell phone store after the Lions let him go.

Shaun knows he will have to adapt to this blocking scheme, run tough and take a beating, but I think he'll give it a good shot. Not sure he's more than a grind-it-out guy at this point, but, again, I don't think you want to abandon the run game just because Portis might not play.

The White Stripes - "The Union Forever"


Los Angeles, Calif.: Jason, What's up MAN!

Was at the Chivas vs. Salt Lake game this past Sat night and it was a ton of fun and I know your a soccer fan so wanted to throw that out there.

Now onto the REAL FOOTBALL: Our DC Skins.

I am hoping to see us go deep more this week. One thing I have noticed that when you go deep often, it will open up the short game as well as the run game too by keeping CB's and Safeties way off the line. So I'm hoping we put that in the game plan. Hell, we may even get a penalty like PI.

Also, how do we rank in 3rd efficiency vs. other teams. I know that is a missing stat that a lot of people don't look at but I have noticed if you convert more 3rd downs than other teams, you usually win.

Jason La Canfora: Hey brother, glad you had fun at the game. Difficult to go to a proper soccer match and not get caught up in it.

As for third down - third down and red zone are the two areas Zorn is harping on most with his offense this week.

Skins rank 23rd in red zone TD efficiency and only 8 teams are worse on 3rd down conversions (36.4 percent).

Dead Kennedys - "California Uber Alles"


Herndon, Va.: Jason, My other big concern is Chris Samuels. I know his 4 holding calls had to be a concern and it has to do with his knee issues. How you think he's gonna do for the remainder of the season. Losing him would be CRUCIAL ... He's our glue IMO.

Jason La Canfora: Would be a massive blow. He's a total gamer and is gutting it out, but talking to him the other day, the way he was laboring to get dress, you could tell he is really hurting.

The big man is in a lot of pain and I know DeMarcus Ware is going to test that thing a lot. He might need a little more help from a TE or a chip, but then you've got Jansen on the other side who will definitely need a helping hand.

I don't like the pass protection matchup, especially without Portis, and running the ball is the best way to keep your passer upright, set up play action, and try to beat these guys over the top - something Moss has done against Dallas quite frequently.


Arlington, Va.: Wow, so now our rookie wide outs are the next coming of Jerry Rice, only the coaches (and you of course) don't realize it!

I think we should investigate and find out everyone who was adamant earlier that Colt Brennan HAS TO START and ban them from any commentary for a year. I think that is an appropriate punishment.

Yeah, the coaches don't want to put the best players out there. That makes sense. Sure...

Jason La Canfora: I mean, was a misreading the question or were people not making it seem like there is someone out there keeping these guys from being starters?

The Colt Brennan stuff was unreal. I wish I would have kept a file and saved all of the Start Colt Now! emails and questions I got in August and September.

Neil Young - "Unknown Legend"


Germantown, Md.: Why are we unable to find any down lineman that can rush the quarterback? I don't think we have had a good pass rush since Man/Manley? Other teams get pressure with 4 but not us, what's up with not drafting a "beast"?

Jason La Canfora: Are they even looking?

They haven't drafted one high since Kennard Lang. Besides Andre Carter - which hasn't worked out too well - they haven't brought in an impact guy there in terms of rushing the passer in free agency in quite some time.

They don't seem to want to invest assets at this position, even though it's generally where you want to start building your team. (the guy they brought in for a quick look after Andre Carter left here to go to Denver for a visit - John Abraham - is having a monster season).


Herndon, vs..: Jason, Love reading your stories. Good insight. Keep it up bro.

Fred Davis=Red Zone ... is his blocking that awful? I think he'd be a helluva threat into the Red Zone... Cooley on one side Davis on the other. Don't u think ?

Jason La Canfora:

Thanks so much.

I think he could make something happen there, yes. JC has hooked up with Yoder a decent amount there in the past and there might be more confidence there, but, yes, if I'm going to get Davis in on a route, might look there. When the staff thinks he's ready for it and worthy of it, I'm sure more opportunities will come and we all know they need to get something happening in the red zone.


Charlottesville, Va.: I'm wondering about all the Springs to safety talk, does that mean they'd sit Horton? To me Horton has been a shocking surprise/success, I got no problem getting Landry around the ball more, but I don't like the idea of sitting a talented young safety.

Jason La Canfora: I think it would be more in the cobra packages (three safety) and also in some third-and-long situations where you can feel safe with Springs as the centerfielder and get Landry around the ball more.

To me that is holding this defense back and is a big part of what we see so few sacks and turnovers. They need to get Landry at strong more often and let him attack the QB and the RB; if that means Horton sits a few downs, so be it.

And again, they run a lot of 3 safety cobra stuff anyway, so there are snaps there. They're going to need Springs as a slot corner now more than ever, so I don't see him playing a ton of safety, but in certain situations I would do that for sure and let Landry try to make it happen, because using Marcus Washington to blitz off the edge right now is a lost cause, and he's been the go to guy (would love to see more of Chris Wilson there, especially against tired O Lines in the second half).

The Stokes - "Take It Or Leave It"


Jupiter, Fla.: Hey JC, totally addicted to RI, refresh multiple times daily, great stuff. How many snaps do you think D. Hall gets on defense, nickel only? What about punt returns?

Jason La Canfora: I don't see him getting a punt return, but I imagine he will be on the field a fair amount for sure,

They haven't had a chance to practice with all the corners healthy yet, so it's hard to say for sure because they are still sorting it out, but I think No. 23 will get a chance to make some plays on the outside.

Jimmy's Chicken Shack - "Spiderweb"


Washington, D.C: Jasno,

Will Santana be able to go full speed on Sunday, or is he still banged up?

Jason La Canfora: He will be ready to play and feels good. The biggest thing will be getting out of the game still feeling close to as good as he did coming out of the bye.


Washington, D.C.: JLa, why is everyone hating on the burgundy on burgundy? I've never seen that in my 30 yrs. as a Skins' fan and thought it was great. I'm sure it we had one, everyone would be sweating it. What did you think?

P.S. How much do you love DCHC?

Jason La Canfora: I thought it was a little to Winnipeg Blue Bombers for me. I'm old school with the unit as a rule.

As for hardcore - luv, luv, luv it. Ever read "Dance of Days?" Essential for any hardcore fan. Teen Idols, Bad Brains. grew up on it.


Brunswick, Md.: I'm with the guy from Rockville, rally rags, what a freaking joke. I'm going to make sure I'm not one of the first 50K at the stadium so I don't get one.

Jason La Canfora: I would save them for sure. Might need it to help put out the smoldering fire in your car after the game. Let's hope the car fires were a one-time thing, too.


Jason La Canfora: Holy schnikes, guys. My time is up but there's like 30-odd questions I couldn't get to. That stinks. Sorry.

By all means hit me up on the blog - Redskins Insider - and attack the inbox - I will definitely get back to you.

Hope you have a great week and enjoy the game. Should be great.



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