The Washington Times - October 1, 2011, 02:10PM

Coach Mike Shanahan hosted a rare Saturday morning media availability because of the usual schedule following the Monday night game. He looked ahead to CB Phillip Buchanon’s return from his four-game suspension next week.

Buchanon was suspended for violating the NFL’s policy against performance-enhancing drugs. He is eligible to appear at team headquarters on Monday for the first time since Labor Day weekend.

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“We’re going to bring him in,” Shanahan told reporters at Redskins Park. “When he left here, he was a little banged up, so we’re going to see how he is with that shoulder, see what type of condition he’s in, and then make a decision what direction we’re going to go.”

If the Redskins choose to reinstate Buchanon to their active 53-man roster, they’ll have to make a corresponding roster move.

Shanahan is pleased with how backup cornerbacks Kevin Barnes, Byron Westbrook and Brandon Thompson have played in Buchanon’s absence. Barnes had an interception against Dallas, and Westbrook forced the victory-clinching fumble against Arizona.

“They’ve stepped up and they’ve shown they can play in the National Football League,” Shanahan said. “Every game they seem to get a little bit better.”

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Shanahan won’t give RB Ryan Torain his first carries of the season simply for the purpose of spreading the ball around.

“You don’t worry about getting three backs in the game,” he said. “You’re worried about being productive.  It doesn’t matter who carries it as long as you’re productive.”

Torain, the Redskins’ leading rusher last season, has not played this year after averaging 4.5 yards per carry a season ago. Starter Tim Hightower is averaging 3.5 yards per carry, and rookie backup Roy Helu is averaging 5.7.

It will be interesting to see whether Shanahan turns to Torain against the Rams if Hightower can’t get going on Sunday. Torain was exceptional at gaining yards after contact last season. St. Louis has the league’s worst run defense at 174.3 yards allowed per game, so expect the Redskins to heavily emphasize the run.

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Shanahan is mourning the death of Mike Heimerdinger, his close friend and college roommate. Heimerdinger, who most recently served as the Tennessee Titans’ offensive coordinator, died of cancer Friday night.

“We lost a very special person and my best friend in Mike Heimerdinger,” Shanahan said in a statement released by the team. “I know the man upstairs needed a superstar so he took him earlier than we all wanted. His love for his family was unprecedented and I will forever miss him.”