The Washington Times - July 30, 2011, 03:24PM

Some notes, quotes and observations from Saturday morning’s practice:

The swelling in LOLB Ryan Kerrigan’s hyperextended knee improved Saturday morning, and he will continue evaluating his status on a daily basis.  

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“I got hit a little bit in the leg and took a bad step, and it kind of bruised that way,” he said. “It shouldn’t be anything too problematic.”

Time is of the essence, obviously, considering Kerrigan is 1) a rookie, and 2) transitioning from defensive end.

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Veteran FB Mike Sellers has practiced as a tight end/H-back the last two days. The brutal truth: It’s an inauspicious indication about his chances of making the 53-man roster. Coach Mike Shanahan is evaluating second-year players Darrel Young and Keiland Williams at the position.

“We’ll see how camp goes,” Sellers told reporters. “As of right now, I’m working at tight end because I haven’t played that. We’ll see how they do at fullback, if they can handle the responsibility—and it’s a big one.”

This is Sellers’ 12th NFL season, so he knows that coaches don’t move 36-year-olds to new positions because they’re playing well. At this point, it appears his fate largely depends on how Young performs.

Ironically, I thought Sellers played much better in 2010 than he did under Jim Zorn in 2009. Shanahan recognized that Sellers is much better blocking straight ahead than pulling into space and making reads, and he employed Sellers accordingly. Sellers also is a quality special teams player, and he’d be sorely missed on kick coverage.

That said, this just adds to the stockpile of evidence that the Redskins’ plan is to make their big step forward in 2012. You could see why Shanahan would want to get Young a season of experience this year before they make a concerted run. And even if Sellers is the better option this season, Shanahan is thinking long term.

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No one seems to be panicking about SS LaRon Landry’s lingering Achilles’ tendon soreness, which is reasonable considering the calendar shows July 30. But this has bothered him since last season. If it hasn’t gotten better by now…

Keep in mind that the lockout prevented Landry from rehabilitating the injury at team headquarters under the watch of Redskins’ staff. Shanahan senses that this contributed to him starting camp on the PUP list instead of the active roster.

“Any time a guy has an Achilles and he’s not able to go through rehab with your organization, you feel like there is going to be a setback,” Shanahan said. “You’d sure like to be with people that are getting treatment all the time, and we’d like to do it. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We’re going to see what kind of shape he’s in. We’re going to make sure that Achilles is healed before we practice him.”

Don’t forget this is Landry’s contract year. At some point he’s going to go out and try to prove himself worthy of a new deal. We’ll see whether that timetable agrees with his Achilles’ tendon.

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Rob Jackson played left outside linebacker for the first-team defense in Kerrigan’s absence. Jackson is the second-string outside linebacker on both sides, a promotion spawned in part by how well he played in two games at the end of last season.

Pass coverage is a major determining factor in whether Jackson holds down the spot. Last year was his first exposure to dropping in the secondary after transitioning from defensive end.

 “I feel like I’m a lot more comfortable with the defense,” Jackson said. “If you know what you’re doing out there, confidence comes along with that.”

Keep Jackson’s ascent in mind as Chris Wilson remains a free agent.

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Shanahan won’t have his players wear pads in practice until late next week, at the earliest. Because he has been away from players for so long, he wants to be sure they’re in “football shape” before he adds that extra strain on their conditioning. By that, he means accustomed to banging bodies and hitting the ground.

He also is changing the practice routine he typically follows during the first week of camp. For example, he’s not having receivers run routes against cornerbacks one-on-one in order to help save their legs.

Shanahan also is concerned about overworking his two quarterbacks’ arms. He said he’ll bring in a third quarterback to help split reps until Kellen Clemens can participate on Thursday. The University of Virginia Saturday afternoon announced that quarterback Marc Verica has joined the Redskins.

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Because the Redskins aren’t in pads, players’ performance in practice must be put in the proper context. Linemen still are doing one-on-one drills, but how much you can glean from them is in doubt.

A few trends are starting to become evident, though, even only two days into practice. Selvish Capers’ feet aren’t as quick as Shanahan likes from his tackles. Several defensive linemen have beaten him by getting into his outside shoulder and around the edge. Also, Artis Hicks must continue to work on the leverage problems that cost him his starting job last midseason. Trent Williams, whose quickness and ability to recover shined in these drills last summer, looked good again Saturday.

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QB John Beck overthrew three deep passes and underthrew another during team drills. None of the four was a tight spiral. That’s a trend we saw throughout the offseason workouts. Just because his ball wobbles doesn’t guarantee he’ll be ineffective, but let’s see if it causes his passes to flutter when the pads come out. For now, it’s just something to file in the memory bank.

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FS Oshiomogho Atogwe’s new jersey number is 20, but he really wanted No. 42. Atogwe has worn 21 all his life, but he did not want to wear it for the Redskins out of respect for Sean Taylor. The next best thing, he thought, would be to double 21 to get 42. But when he asked for 42, the Redskins informed him that it is the unofficially retired number of Hall of Fame receiver Charley Taylor. So Atogwe settled for No. 20.

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Saturday’s practice was the first one open to the public, but the size of the crowd was much smaller than expected. Longtime reporters and even some team employees were surprised by how small it was. Count me among them. I’m not sure what, if anything, to take away from it, but it’s worth noting.