- The Washington Times - Monday, August 2, 2004

He remains mute, on the second team and somewhat erratic, but at least Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor is back at practice.

The draft’s No. 5 overall pick participated fully yesterday after missing the first day of training camp with a slightly sprained knee. The injury occurred Wednesday in passing camp, Taylor’s first workout after he ended holdout worries by signing a seven-year, $18million pact.

Spectators, however, have yet to see Taylor do anything substantial. On the final play of practice yesterday, he closed on a deep attempt to wide receiver Gari Scott and helped break up the pass. But earlier in the day, he got dusted by Dameane Douglas — who earned an invitation to training camp only Saturday after a tryout — on a crossing route.

Taylor continues to work as a reserve with no indication of when he might ascend to the starting lineup. He and Todd Franz played second string, while Andre Lott took the starting spot next to Matt Bowen.

“I think that’s all a work in progress,” coach Joe Gibbs said. “I think it all depends on how he plays, how he plays in the preseason, the plays he makes in practice. … I think it’s going to be very competitive at safety. Our guys came back in great shape. We’ve got some tough guys back there who can make plays.”

Taylor continues to snub the media outside of press conferences. In an awkward scene after practice, he silently signed autographs for several minutes while reporters hovered and lobbed questions on the off chance he might answer one.

Theorized Gibbs: “I think from the very beginning, at the very first press conference, he said, ‘I’ll take some questions, but I don’t want to talk.’ I think he’s kind of stayed with that.”

Coles’ toe fine

If wide receiver Laveranues Coles’ toe is bothering him, it certainly doesn’t look like it. Coles put on a clinic at practice, at one point burning cornerback Fred Smoot on consecutive deep passes.

The first move was particularly impressive. Coles faked to the inside and darted to the deep corner, where he had Smoot by three or four steps and easily hauled in the pass.

“It was a double move,” Smoot said. “He played me to the inside because he knew I had been setting on him. That’s how I had been breaking all his balls up. They changed it up. What they usually do on the dig route, they did it on the post-corner.”

Coles wasn’t available for a planned group interview after several other interviews ran long. But Smoot said the obvious: There shouldn’t be much concern about the receiver’s right big toe, which continues to nag Coles after a stress fracture last season.

“Like all the other players, he came out here and practiced with it,” Smoot said. “It’s not something that brought him down. He’s not just sitting over there on the sideline watching practice. He’s out there with us.”

Extra points

Lennie Friedman, who started eight games at center last season, is playing first string after mostly working as a reserve behind Cory Raymer in the offseason. Line coach Joe Bugel said no decisions have been made and that the spot should get healthy competition during the preseason.

“Lenny’s probably one of the smartest kids I’ve coached for a long time,” Bugel said of the Duke graduate. “I think a natural position for him is center. We’re very pleased with him. We have two excellent centers with him and Raymer.” …

Defensive end Phillip Daniels aggravated an abdomen strain and sat out practice. Regan Upshaw worked with the starters at right end in his place. Daniels hopes to be back today. “If it’s me, I’ll be out there,” Daniels said. “The trainers are holding me out. They told me they want to make sure.”

H-back Mike Sellers, who rolled an ankle Saturday, remained out but was said to be much improved. Wide receiver Cliff Russell pulled up lame on a deep passing route and could miss a few days with a strained hamstring. Offensive linemen Kenyatta Jones and Brandon Winey and linebacker Chris Clemons remained sidelined with ankle sprains. …

Practice featured more big plays than either of Saturday’s workouts, but Gibbs remained concerned about execution, calling the performance “real rough.”

“Everybody’s got a good attitude. Everybody’s going after things,” Gibbs said. “But right now it’s just rough. We’re not in a groove or anything.”

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