Kelly's Chances of Playing Sunday Slip
Man, where to start ...
Well, WR Malcolm Kelly's chances of playing Sunday are not good. He's coming back from a hamstring injury and practiced for a few days, but today was rough. "He really labored," Coach Jim Zorn said after the morning workout. I wouldn't expect to see him back until next week.
In general, Zorn equated the time missed by second-round picks Devin Thomas and Kelly to a contract holdout, in that they are not a part of the vortex of decisions and formations that come with being on the field in real situations. "They'll be behind," Zorn said. "It's like not reporting to camp." While they get mental reps, it's certainly not the ideal situation. "It's going to be tough," Zorn said of getting them up to speed. Good thing for them there are five preseason games.
As for veterans who will be given Sunday off: Clinton Portis, Jason Taylor, Carlos Rogers, Chris Samuels and London Fletcher will not play. Cornelius Griffin and a handful of other guys may not play either, and Zorn said the team will decide soon whether Rocky McIntosh will participate. (My guess: I doubt it, given the five preseason games.)
Add to that the following injured guys who have not been practicing and are virtually certain not to participate Sunday: LaRon Landry, Anthony Montgomery, H.B. Blades, Erasmus James, the rookie WRs (Anthony Mix, Billy McMullen -- more on his knee problem below) and Rian Wallace.
Then you've got some guys, like Chris Wilson, who just came back to practice in the last 48 hours and may not be exposed to the full contact Sunday. And you've also got a dude who literally just got on the field with the Redskins for the first time this morning -- LB Alfred Fincher, who replaced Eric Shelton on the roster -- and, consider the fact that the starters who do actually play Sunday will only do so for a series or two at most, and, well, that doesn't exactly leave a whole lot of wiggle room on an 80-man roster.
McMullen (University of Virginia) was limited in practice by knee tendinitis. He went out early with two ice bags, so the Redskins could be very short on WRs Sunday night. Starters Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El will play only a series or so. The same goes for James Thrash and, with the rookies out, it's slim pickings. Zorn said he'll manage to get by since he has four TEs here -- he'll spread them out wide -- but the lack of wideouts will limit formations to base stuff.
Portis has not been much of a presence in practice this week, sitting out some drills, with Rock Cartwright and Marcus Mason getting significant work. With Portis not playing Sunday, Zorn wanted to make sure Rock and Marcus had their legs under them and were ready to take some hits, because they are in store for a lot of work Sunday night.
Zorn said Portis is healthy, and could practice fully. "He can take the reps," Zorn said of Portis. Zorn also said that Portis has some minor tightening in his hip flexors but is fine and will likely see his most preseason work in the fourth exhibition game.
There will be a trickle-down effect from Cartwright carrying the ball so much. He's also the top kick returner, and will not do as much of that stuff Sunday. So Byron Westbrook, a promising corner who spent last year on the practice squad, expects to see a ton of special teams duty Sunday.
Westbrook said he is currently second on the depth chart at punt and kick returner, with rookie corner Justin Tryon behind him. "With Rock running the ball a lot, I'm going to be ready for those punts and kicks," Westbrook said.
I asked Zorn about working with Jason Campbell to prevent the fumbleitis from a year ago, and he did not seem concerned with it. In Zorn's mind, if Campbell is working in the rhythm and pace needed to execute this offense, the ball will be getting out of there. JC needs to keep two hands on the ball before he brings it up, and if the ball gets batted down or batted away because of a coverage sack or guys not getting open or the line failing to protect him, then to Zorn that's indicative of other problems.
"Part of the fumbling will actually take care of itself with his decision-making," Zorn said. "Because he will not be wondering where to go with the football. Once he gets in the pocket he'll know exactly -- and he'll know the rhythm of the play -- and this idea of rhythm will help him not to fumble, because people will not get close."
Also, Zorn spoke about rookies not getting Redskins' logos on their helmets during the preseason. He reiterated that none of them will get to wear the logos until after they make the team following the fifth preseason game. Obviously, during the preseason games NFL rules about uniforms and gear will be followed and everyone will have the helmets with the stickers on them. Then, by the following practice, it'll be peel-off time, with the rooks going back to the unadorned headgear.
"I want these guys to have a sense they have earned something," Zorn said.
Todd Collins and Campbell both had Zorn revved. He was signaling touchdowns after they weaved tight passes to the back of the end zone in red-zone drills.
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