Some notes, quotes and observations from a rainy Saturday at Redskins Park:
The Redskins practiced for a bit shorter than two hours before weather conditions deteriorated. They moved forward from the loss of rookie DE Jarvis Jenkins, who suffered a season-ending ACL tear in his right knee during Thursday’s loss to Baltimore.
“Obviously, you cannot replace a player like that,” coach Mike Shanahan said. “You just can’t replace him.”
How affected was Shanahan by the injury on Thursday night? With Jenkins lying on the turf grabbing his knee, he watched the replay on the stadium videoboard and realized the magnitude.
“You have a hard time even focusing on the game when something like that occurs so early in the game,” Shanahan said.
Players tried to maintain a positive outlook.
“I think we still have a lot of good depth,” DE Stephen Bowen said. “We have a lot of athletic defensive linemen with talent: Kedric Golston, Darrion Scott, Doug Worthington. All those guys have been playing real well. I’m sure everybody is going to step up to the plate.”
We’ve seen how the upgraded defensive line has positively impacted the rest of the defense during the preseason. Linebackers have flowed to the ball more freely, and the secondary has benefited from pressure on the quarterback. Any dropoff up front will have a trickle-down affect, as well.
Bowen isn’t concerned about wearing down if he has to play more snaps because of Jenkins’ absence.
“Every day in practice we’re preparing ourselves to be conditioned,” he said. “We run a lot of days after practice, so when we’re in the game we’re not getting as winded. We’re trying to keep a high level of play, and if we do get tired, we know that the next guy comes in and he’s gonna do his job.”
We’ll see if that holds true. DE Adam Carriker, for one, has noted how exhausted he was at the end of last season because the Redskins didn’t have sufficient depth for him to come off the field.
Losing Jenkins is a big blow no matter how you look it at. His combination of power and quickness is rather unique. As Shanahan said: “It’s always hard to lose one of those big guys because you can’t find them on the street.”
No surprise here: Shanahan all but named Tim Hightower the Redskins’ starting running back for Week 1.
“I’m not going to say he’s our starter, but if you’re betting in Vegas, you’d probably bet in that direction,” he said.
Ryan Torain entered camp at the top of the depth chart, but Hightower has run away with the job while Torain has nursed his broken left hand. Hightower has been an absolute gem.
“He’s just a dynamic guy,” LG Kory Lichtensteiger said. “He knows where to hit the hole. He knows how to finish, too.”
And he has been much, much better in pass protection than Torain was last year.
“First, second, third down. …Tim has done a fine job both in the running game and the passing game,” Shanahan said.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hightower sit out Thursday’s preseason finale against Tampa Bay, although Shanahan said no decisions about resting players have been made. There’s nothing left for him to prove, and the Redskins can’t risk an injury to him.
Torain is expected to play Thursday, as is rookie RB Evan Royster, Shanahan said.
For those expecting KR/PR Brandon Banks to be placed on injured reserve when the final roster is set on Sept. 3, not so fast. Banks is expected to practice on Sunday after sitting out Saturday.
“Hopefully when he tests that knee it doesn’t swell up again,” Shanahan said. “He looks like he’s a go for this game against Tampa.”
If Banks’ knee reacts badly, then let’s talk IR. For now, I expect him on the 53-man roster because of his play-making ability in the return game.
Here’s my review of how the offense played against Baltimore on Thursday night.
Here’s my review of the defense.
SS LaRon Landry (hamstring) did not practice, and his status remains day-to-day. Shanahan hopes he can play against Tampa Bay, but playing that game isn’t a requirement for him playing Week 1 against the Giants, Shanahan said.
Keep in mind, though, that Landry hasn’t played since the ninth game of last season. Even if he can play against New York, how sharp could he be after so much missed practice time and so little game preparation?
Updating the rest of the injuries, courtesy of Mike Shanahan:
WR Malcolm Kelly (right foot) did not practice. “Nothing new with him,” Shanahan said.
Rookie LG Maurice Hurt (sore knee) sat out practice. He is expected to return Monday.
LB Edgar Jones (concussion) is expected to return to practice Sunday or Monday.
LDE Adam Carriker (severe blisters), LB London Fletcher (hamstring), CB Josh Wilson (hamstring) and RB Ryan Torain (broken left hand) practiced.
FS Kareem Moore (right knee) seems destined to remain on the physically-unable-to-perform list through the start of the season, meaning he would be ineligible to play the first six games.
“Until he’s close to 100 percent, I don’t want to put him in that situation or else I think we’ll go back to what happened last year,” Shanahan said.
Moore injured his knee during the 2010 preseason, had surgery and never was fully healthy. He had to have a second surgery during the offseason.
If Moore begins the season on the PUP list, that opens a roster spot for someone else. The Redskins kept four safeties and five cornerbacks last season. If Shanahan decides to keep those amounts the same, my predictions are:
Cornerbacks: DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson, Kevin Barnes, Byron Westbrook, Brandyn Thompson (with Phillip Buchanon’s roster spot exempt for four weeks while he’s on the reserve/suspended list).
Safeties: LaRon Landry, Oshiomogho Atogwe, Reed Doughty and DeJon Gomes.
Because Gomes has some experience playing cornerback, the Redskins could keep him as a swing corner/safety and cut the seventh-round pick Thompson if they need to open up a spot at another position.
My guess is that Chris Horton moves on. He’s a special teams contributor, but pass coverage has been too problematic.
By now, it’s not really worth talking about WR Terrence Austin making the roster. Seems to me there’s no suspense left there. But for old times’ sake, here’s Mike Shanahan talking about the shifty, reliable second-year wideout:
“Terrence, like a lot of young players, they get a chance to get a better feel for the system; get a better feel of coverages; learn how to run routes at the NFL level,” he said. “He’s a guy that enjoys playing football. He’s a little undersized, but you can’t tell by the way he plays both in the running game and the passing game.”
Shanahan, unsolicited, brought up Austin’s block in the secondary that helped spring RB Tim Hightower’s 37-yard touchdown against Baltimore.
You’ll recall that Shanahan held almost all of the Redskins’ starters out of last preseason’s finale against Arizona. This season, he probably doesn’t have that luxury because the team still is making up for missing the offseason.
“This is a little different than most years going into the fourth preseason game because of the lockout, the evaluation of young players, the evaluation of some of the players that are fighting for a position,” Shanahan said. “And just the way we practice this week. Normally this week you’ve lost 10, 15 guys. We still have 90 guys all the way through Tuesday’s practice. Normally it’s like a Friday practice. So that gives us an opportunity to not overwork players.”
Some veterans might sit out Thursday, though. “A lot depends on injury. A lot depends on how we practice. A combination of those things,” Shanahan said.
The Redskins’ starters took these two weeks last year to start game-planning for the season opener against Dallas. That won’t happen this year ahead of the New York game, Shanahan said.
“We’re getting ready just like we did last week versus Baltimore—a normal schedule relative to going through the sequences of day by day on what you do to get ready for a game during the season,” he said. “With 90 players it’s a little bit different than cutting out 10, 15, 20 people. You have more people, and hopefully we have some good productive practices.”