Shawn Springs was back on the field and then off it again almost before practice started. So was LaRon Landry. Rocky McIntosh wasn't on hand at all. But Clinton Portis was a surprise participant yesterday as the Washington Redskins opened the three-day minicamp that concludes their offseason at Redskin Park.
The players were told to stay away from anything to do with football on Thursday, but Landry still managed to hurt his groin. The sixth pick overall in April's draft, who figures to start at strong safety sooner rather than later, was injured playing paintball.
"LaRon got hit in a sensitive spot so he's going to have to rest a day or two," coach Joe Gibbs said. "It goes to show you can't control everything."
Springs had skipped the entire offseason program before returning on June 5 and then left almost immediately to be with his pregnant wife. She gave birth on Tuesday, but their son was re-admitted to the hospital, the Redskins learned as practice began yesterday. Gibbs informed Springs, who quickly left to be with his family.
"Shawn was here and ready to go," Gibbs said. "We keep having issues there. It's tough."
McIntosh, who is expected to start at weakside linebacker, was also with his wife and their first child, who was born on Wednesday. The 2006 second-rounder is expected to return to action today.
Portis, on the other hand, wasn't expected to practice until training camp in late July, but took a fair amount of work yesterday.
"I was out running around before practice and after I did that, I asked [running backs coach Earnest Byner] if I could do anything and he was like, 'See how it feels,' " said Portis, who had been out a month with a sore knee. I just wanted to see where I was and I was able to do a lot. I got in the passing drills and that went well so I tried to see what I could do during practice.
"To be part of the team and actually involved, it felt good," Portis said. "My knee held up. My feet are on fire from wearing cleats for the first time. Outside of that, I felt good. I know my feet will be on fire tomorrow. I made it safely today. We'll see what I can do tomorrow, but I'm going to try to stay away from contact. I'm not going to push the limits. Whatever I get done will be extra."
Gibbs was pleasantly surprised by the return of his No. 1 back, who missed half of 2006 with shoulder and hand injuries.
"We knew we were getting close so we kind of left it up to Clinton and the trainers," Gibbs said. It was good he was able to take some work today. He looked good."
Gibbs said that right guard Randy Thomas' arthroscopic knee surgery on Wednesday came out of the blue.
"It was something that just flared up," Gibbs said. "There was a particle in there that kept bothering him and we didn't want to get to [training] camp with that."
Washington, Marshall return
While McIntosh was absent, fellow outside linebackers Marcus Washington and Lemar Marshall returned after missing the final two days of organized team activities on June 6 and 7.
"I guess I was trying to do too much too fast when I got back on the field," Washington said about straining his back last week soon after being cleared to return from hip surgery in January. "I had hit the weight room pretty hard that morning and then had a pretty good day of practice and I strained my back. It loosened up pretty well today so I just went. It was good to be back out there."
Marshall had been sidelined with a sore knee that he said was nothing major. Defensive ends Phillip Daniels (wrist) and Renaldo Wynn (elbow) took limited work, as expected. Former Maryland receiver Dan Melendez (hamstring) and rookie linebacker Justin Hickman (knee) remained sidelined. Receiver Brandon Lloyd (leg) was back after sitting out on June 7.
The Redskins signed receiver Jason Willis and cut fellow wideout Terry Mitchell, whom they had signed on May 24. Willis was on Seattle's practice squad in 2004 and Miami's in 2005. He was out of the NFL last season. ... Willie Foster, a rookie free agent receiver from Rutgers, is attending minicamp on a tryout basis.