- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 1, 2007

A long shot to make the Washington Redskins roster five days ago, Stephon Heyer got the first shot to play in Chris Samuels‘ vacated left tackle position yesterday afternoon.

Samuels‘ sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee is expected to keep him out four weeks. While it seemed Taylor Whitley or Jason Fabini likely would work with the starters, Heyer’s performance in the first week of training camp impressed assistant head coach-offense Joe Bugel enough to warrant the decision.

Aside from a false start penalty on the first play of 11-on-11 drills, Heyer held his own, though the Redskins likely will use a variety of combinations in the coming weeks.

“[Samuels] is a big loss, of course, especially during training camp when you want to keep everybody together,” right guard Randy Thomas said. “But it’s an opportunity for other guys to step up, open some eyes and maybe make the team.”

Heyer, an undrafted free agent from Maryland, was as surprised as his teammates when Bugel informed him he would be working alongside left guard Todd Wade.

“It’s a different world now,” Heyer said. “After Chris went down, we didn’t know what the lineup would look like. I thought I would run with the [second team] on the right side, but I was thrown into the mix. I got more reps than I thought I would get. I’ve been given a great opportunity to show them what I can do.”

Said Bugel: “He kept on doing the little things really, really good. When Samuels went down, we put up some names, and I said, ‘Hey, let’s give the rookie a chance.’ It was a battlefield promotion for him.”

Thomas returns

Thomas was a surprise participant in practice, his first of training camp because of a sore right knee. He performed running drills Monday and took part in most of the individual drills yesterday.

“The next goal is to do more tomorrow and slowly make my way back,” Thomas said. “I’m going to be a pro about it.”

Portis sits

Running back Clinton Portis sat out practice, claiming it was a day off. But Gibbs said he aggravated his knee tendinitis. Receiver Santana Moss (leg) was limited.

Sitting out were Samuels, tight end Tyler Ecker (groin), receiver Mike Espy (leg bruise), linebacker Dallas Sartz (hamstring) and fullback Pete Schmitt (shoulder).