Training camp was abuzz in anticipation at the start of August, as the Washington Redskins braced for the arrival of second-year safety Sean Taylor. After a successful yet tumultuous rookie season and an eventful offseason that included a boycott of the team's training program, an arrest and arraignment on felony charges in Miami, all wondered if Taylor would report on time, and how teammates and coaches would receive him.

Since then, Taylor shined in two preseason games, reclaimed his starting role and showed no signs of being distracted by his lingering legal issues, which could involve three years of prison time should he be sentenced for a felony count of alleged aggravated assault with a handgun.

With the secondary plagued by injuries for last Friday night's preseason game with Cincinnati, Taylor prospered, helping others with their assignments, and he should play extensively tomorrow against Pittsburgh, as Gregg Williams plans to play his starting defense into the third quarter.

"He's obviously playing very well in the games," Coach Joe Gibbs said. "He came in in very good shape and breezed through the conditioning stuff. So even though he wasn't here in the offseason, he worked extremely hard, and he's had a real good attitude. I think he's had a really good attitude toward everything."

Defensive Line Struggles

Last season, the consensus was the Washington Redskins' defensive line would struggle, but it turned out to be one of the team's undisputed strengths.

This season, with expectations high, defensive coordinator Greg Blache has not been pleased with its play.

"At this point in camp, our production has been erratic at best," said Blache, who coaches the line. "I just think we have a lot of ground we have to cover, and we only have a couple of weeks to go. I haven't seen a lot of things I was hoping to see out of this group. I was hoping to see a step up and have a big improvement, but the improvements we've had have been marginal, and in a couple of cases I won't say that guys have regressed, but they haven't progressed at all. Right now, I'm not real thrilled."

Hall Among the Missing

Place kicker John Hall was not present for yesterday's practice due to the flu and was sent home. Punter Tom Tupa remains out with a back sprain, leaving Andy Groom to handle those duties for the second straight game. Safety Ryan Clark (knee), cornerback Walt Harris (quad), wide receiver Taylor Jacobs (toe) and tight end Robert Royal (shoulder) missed practice again and are unlikely to play, Gibbs said. Defensive tackle Brandon Noble, who missed the entire offseason with a knee infection, will play at least a few series tomorrow.