The Washington Times - August 22, 2012, 04:37PM

Coach Mike Shanahan is not certain whether either RB Tim Hightower or RB Roy Helu Jr. will be healthy enough to play against the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 9.

Hightower is working back from the left knee ACL reconstruction surgery he had nine months ago. Helu is fighting tendinitis in both Achilles.

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“Neither one could play right now,” Shanahan said when asked about both of their availability for Saturday’s preseason game against Indianapolis.

“They could be fine by the first game,” he said. “We’ll keep our fingers crossed.”

Wednesday’s practice was the first this summer in which Hightower experienced contact while playing with the first-, second-, or third-team offense.

“He’s made some strides, but it’s really hard to tell until he goes full speed,” Shanahan said. “Once you put the pads on it’s different than going in shorts. I think tomorrow will be a good indication of how he feels.”

ILB London Fletcher (undisclosed ailment) will play Saturday barring a setback between now and then.

OLB Brian Orakpo (left pectoral) told reporters he expects to play in the season-opener. SS Brandon Meriweather (left knee) said he hopes to do the same. Meriweather gave little away, proudly demonstrating what he learned in New England about keeping injury information a secret.