Some notes, quotes and observations from Wednesday at Redskins Park:
RB Roy Helu (knee, toe) was limited in practice after sitting out last Saturday’s game against Minnesota. But in wondering whether he’s going to play in Sunday’s season finale against Philadelphia, keep in mind that he is one of only two tailbacks on the active roster now that RB Ryan Torain has been released. Would the Redskins have cut Torain if they were unsure of Helu’s status for Sunday? That seems unlikely to me.
Speaking of Torain, Shanahan was asked what the veteran running back did not show after rushing for 135 yards against St. Louis in Week 4:
“It’s like anything. You’ve got to make decisions…who gives you the best chance to win. You evaluate people on a day-to-day basis. And as time goes on, you want to keep the best players that work consistently both in practice and on the field, and right now he was the first person to go. I still think he has a chance to play in the National Football League. He’s proven that he can average anywhere from four-and-a-half yards to five yards a carry. But right now with the depth that we have, I felt it was in our best interest to go in a different direction.”
In other words, no comment.
Because the Redskins, Minnesota Vikings and St. Louis Rams each have clinched a last-place finish, Washington’s opponents for the 2012 season are set. According to the scheduling formula listed in this year’s NFL Record and Fact Book, the Redskins will play:
HOME: Atlanta, Carolina, Minnesota, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Dallas, NY Giants, Philadelphia
AWAY: New Orleans, Tampa Bay, St. Louis, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Dallas, NY Giants, Philadelphia
The exact schedule, including dates and times for the games, won’t be finalized until April.
ILB London Fletcher was stung by being left off the NFC Pro Bowl roster Tuesday, but he wasn’t surprised.
“The bottom line,” he said, “is we need to win more games.”
That was the consensus at Redskins Park on Wednesday as players and coaches discussed the fact no Redskins were named to the NFL’s annual all-star game the for the first time since 1993.
New England and San Francisco – teams with double-digit win totals – each have eight representatives. The Redskins, in contrast, were bound to be overlooked largely because of their 5-10 record.
They were one of four teams without a representative. Tennessee is 8-7 with an outside chance of making the playoffs, but Buffalo and St. Louis have six and two wins, respectively.
“A lot has to do with winning,” Shanahan said. “A lot of players know that when they’re voting on the Pro Bowl that they didn’t have Pro Bowl years, but they’ll take it.”
Fletcher, who played in the game the last two seasons as an alternate, is a first alternate again this year despite leading the NFL with 162 tackles. He also has 1.5 sacks, two interceptions and three forced fumbles.
By comparison, Chicago’s Brian Urlacher, who was named to his eighth Pro Bowl over Fletcher, has 92 tackles, no sacks, three interceptions and no forced fumbles.
“He’s a perennial Pro Bowl player,” Fletcher said. “He’s still a good football player. That’s just kind of how it is. I’m thankful for the players, and the fans and the coaches who did vote for me.”
Fletcher bristled at the suggestion he was overlooked because he’s not more flamboyant on the field.
“I play the game the right way, play the game with passion each and every play,” he said. “I prepare each and every week the same. The other guys also have some pretty big reps. I’m not gonna do something that’s not my personality just to draw attention to myself.”
Eagles coach Andy Reid is among the many who believe Fletcher was snubbed. “London’s a heck of a player now,” Reid said. “He’s been doing this a lot of years and he’s had some great years. I think this was one of his best ones. I don’t know all the Pro Bowl stuff. I don’t know how all that works, but I would tell you I’m sure he’s deserving by the year he’s had.”
LB Lorenzo Alexander also had a strong case to be the NFC’s special teams representative, but he lost out to Chicago’s Corey Graham. The Redskins kickoff coverage unit has limited opponents to the NFL’s second-lowest return average (20.8 yards), and he consistently garners praise from analysts and opposing coaches.
“I actually voted for [Graham], so if anybody deserves to go it’s him,” Alexander said. “You just gotta continue to work as a player, continue to work on your craft and become dominant to where it’s not even a question as to whether or not you should be there.”
Alexander is one of the Redskins’ five Pro Bowl alternates. OLB Brian Orakpo said he is one, and 106.7 The Fan reported P Sav Rocca is one. Shanahan would not disclose the names.
Sixth-round rookie WR Aldrick Robinson was promoted from the practice squad Tuesday because an undisclosed team wanted to sign him to its active roster, Shanahan said. Robinson said he has improved his route running since the preseason.
When RB Evan Royster met with reporters Wednesday morning, he had not yet watched film of his 132-yard performance against Minnesota. However, he believes he did well diagnosing cutback lanes and taking advantage of them.
“You really see when the zone scheme works out and when you stretch the defense and get that cutback lane, you can see it, and it’s obvious that’s what the zone scheme was designed to do,” he said.
Shanahan plans to play QB Rex Grossman for the entire game against Philadelphia on Sunday. Just because the Redskins are out of contention doesn’t mean QB John Beck will get to play. Beck would play only if Grossman got hurt or if his play is unsatisfactory.
“We play to win,” Shanahan said. “We’ll play the best players. I told you that from day one. It doesn’t matter what their record is, we’re playing to win. If young guys get in, it’s because the player that was a starter either goes down or the guy is playing at a very high level and we want to see him compete.”
So has Shanahan seen enough of Beck to evaluate him in the offseason?
“We had a couple games in there, so it’s all part of the process,” Shanahan said. “It’s just not games; it’s practice every day, preparation and all those type of things.”
In case you missed it, here’s the defensive film review from Saturday’s loss to Minnesota.
And I chatted today about the Redskins’ offseason priorities on The Sports Fix on ESPN980. Listen to the segment: here.