The Washington Redskins continued tinkering with their starting lineup today, having defensive end Anthony Cook work with the starters ahead of Kenard Lang.
Meanwhile, the team released defensive end Kelvin Kinney. He was a starter by necessity for most of last season, but plummeted on the depth chart with the offseason additions of Cook and Marco Coleman.
Coach Norv Turner said Lang remains the starter at left defensive end, but defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said Lang and Cook are competing for the job.
"Cook is a good player," Nolan said. "So is Kenard. We're giving them an opportunity to compete for the position."
Changes have come rapidly this week. Champ Bailey has taken over for Darryl Pounds at cornerback, and Andy Heck has been moved ahead of Joe Patton at left tackle.
Lang had been bothered by a bruised shoulder, but said he is healthy. He worked with the second team today and said he was not upset about the demotion.
"Whatever happens, happens," Lang said. "I'm not worried about it. I'm just going to keep practicing and playing hard."
Lang was a first-round draft choice out of Miami in 1997 and has started each of the 27 games in which he has played. In 16 games last season, he made 76 tackles and ranked second on the club with seven sacks. He has the strength and speed to be a fine run stopper and a superb pass rusher, but he has frustrated coaches with his inconsistency.
When the Redskins signed Cook as a free agent during the offseason, he was slated to start at right defensive end. But Coleman took over that spot after being signed later in the offseason. Cook started 35 games in four seasons for the Houston Oilers-Tennessee Titans, and has had 44 tackles and 7 1/2 sacks in a season. But he has had only two sacks over the past two seasons, and the Redskins view him primarily as a run stopper.
Cook played well in Friday night's preseason victory over the New England Patriots. Working with the second unit, he had five tackles and one of the Redskins' two sacks.
"I'm not worried about starting," Cook said. "I feel I can help the team if I'm given an opportunity to play, and that's all I care about."
Kinney started 12 games last season after the Redskins lost Rich Owens to a knee injury, but it was clear from the outset of training camp this year that he had virtually no chance of making the team. He missed a third straight day of practices today because of a personal matter.
"One of the things you owe to a player who's been with you is if you decide he's not going to be with you, you release him early so he can catch on somewhere else," Turner said.
Quarterback Brad Johnson was given the afternoon practice off to rest his knee. . . .
Reserve fullback-tight end Mike Sellers might miss Friday night's preseason home opener against the Buffalo Bills because of a strained calf. Backup cornerback Tim Denton missed practice today because of a sore back and is questionable for Friday night's game. Linebacker Malcolm Hamilton suffered a strained back during the afternoon practice.