Washington’s most high-profile defensive free agent signing of the spring, Hatcher was working his way back from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.
Restricted only to individual drills since coming off of the PUP list on Aug. 9, Hatcher on Wednesday took part in team drills for the first time.
His knee responded favorably, he moved well, and after practice reported no soreness.
“He’s fired up and ready to go,” Gruden said. “He looked good today. He’s going to play against Baltimore and we’re excited to see him as a Redskin.”
Said Hatcher, “I feel great, man. Today was the first day I had live reps. I moved great. My speed is back, my quickness is back, my strength is back. The only thing I have to do now is go out there [Saturday] and try to play my best.”
Hatcher hadn’t learned how much he would play on Saturday. But Gruden said the plan was to play his starters about a half. It’s expected that Hatcher will rotate with Jarvis Jenkins at right end as defensive coordinator Jim Haslett often shuttles linemen in and out to keep them fresh.
Until Wednesday, Hatcher hadn’t practiced with his teammates since June, during the offseason program. But he said he and pass rushers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan have good chemistry, and that he doesn’t expect any timing and chemistry issues between them.
“We worked a lot in OTAs before I had my procedure done. I know those guys as a rusher and they know me as a rusher. It’ll be one of those things. It’s three or four weeks before the season starts and we’ll harp on it every day and get our timing down, and I think we’ll be great.”
Hatcher said he hasn’t moved with any limitation, and that his knee has no soreness or swelling as he did this summer, when he opted for the surgery. He felt good about his conditioning, although he said he probably will be winded at times during Saturday’s game.
“There’s a big difference between running gassers and wrestling a 300-pound man. Totally different,” Hatcher said. “But, I’m excited to see where my condition is at this Saturday.”
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