The Washington Redskins were missing several key players, including linebacker LaVar Arrington and running back Clinton Portis, for last night's preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals at FedEx Field.
Five defensive backs were out with injuries, leaving the Redskins thin in the secondary although rookie cornerback Carlos Rogers, the ninth overall pick in April's draft, was able to make his debut after missing last weekend's game in Carolina with an ankle injury. Rogers started and his interception late in the first quarter set up Washington's first touchdown.
Starting safety Matt Bowen, who suffered a mild knee strain in Wednesday's practice, missed the game as well; the Redskins are being very cautious with Bowen as he missed most of the 2004 season recovering from knee surgery. Starting cornerback Walt Harris has been slowed by a quadriceps injury throughout training camp and he did not play, either.
Portis has been experiencing inflammation in his elbow, and aggravated the injury several times, most recently when he hit the ground during practice this week. He did not practice Wednesday and, although he says the problem is minor, Coach Joe Gibbs expressed some mild concern that the injury has not dissipated.
Arrington returned for practice this week after missing most of last season, and, although he is making progress he is not yet participating in many contact drills. He was unable to take part in the first two weeks of training camp, joining Rogers and defensive tackle Brandon Noble on the physically unable to perform list. Noble, who was also cleared to begin practicing this week after missing several months with a knee infection, was held out of this game as a precaution as well.
Wide receiver Taylor Jacobs is week-to-week with a sprained big toe. Jacobs has not practiced in two weeks and still has mild swelling around his toe. Safety Ryan Clark missed practice this week with a knee injury that also prevented him from playing last night. Safety Tony Dixon and cornerback Artrell Hawkins have been hampered by lingering hamstring problems and did not play. Offensive lineman Mark Wilson (back) also was out.
Last season, it took safety Sean Taylor the entire preseason and two regular season games to become a starter. This year, despite missing the entire offseason training program, he was starting after just one preseason game.
Taylor joined strong safety Pierson Prioleau in the starting lineup, and figures to stay there indefinitely. Injuries certainly played a part in Taylor's rise -- he started training camp with the third team after his prolonged absence from the club -- and he was all over the field last night. Taylor, the fifth overall pick in the 2004 draft, is scheduled to go to trial Sept. 12 in Miami on felony assault charges, but his lawyer plans to file motions to get the case postponed until the offseason.
A Strain for Tupa
Punter Tom Tupa landed awkwardly while kicking during warmups and hurt his back, forcing him to miss the game. Preliminary indications are Tupa has a mild back strain, and he will be evaluated more tomorrow. . . .
Center Cory Raymer played in the second half after missing practice this week to tend to his wife, who was experiencing complications with her pregnancy. . . .
Rookie running back Nehemiah Broughton had another impressive performance, although he fumbled to effectively end the game. . . .
Pro Bowl linebacker Marcus Washington keyed a strong first-quarter performance by the first-team defense. Washington was all over the field, and was especially effective stuffing the run. He hurried quarterback Carson Palmer on a few occasions and made four tackles. . . . Defensive back Charles Byrd has yet to practice with the Redskins but made his debut last night anyway. Byrd was signed Thursday to fill a growing roster void in the secondary. . . . Safety Siddeeq Shabazz, who was signed Wednesday and practiced just once with Washington, played in the fourth quarter. . . .
Return specialist Antonio Brown showed off his blazing speed in the first quarter, bobbling a punt, recovering the ball and still gaining 14 yards on the return to the right side. . . . Wide receiver Santana Moss, another burner, made a nice reception for a first down early in the game by eluding a tackle on a screen and picking up five yards after the catch. A failure to produce yards after the catch confounded the coaches last season and contributed to the team's anemic attack. . . . Washington's pass protection wilted late in the first half, and Patrick Ramsey was sacked twice and pressured frequently.