In the summer of 2006, Seattle Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander was king of football - MVP, leading rusher, NFC champion, touchdown record holder, Madden NFL 07 cover boy.
Defensive tackle Ryan Boschetti, in contrast, was doing what he did every summer - trying to hang onto one of the last spots on the Washington Redskins' roster.
This week, in a glaring example of how fast fortunes can change in the NFL, the Redskins cut Alexander and re-signed Boschetti because starting tackles Cornelius Griffin and Kedric Golston were hurt Sunday at Seattle and backup Anthony Montgomery is returning from a strained Achilles tendon.
"There's probably more talented guys than Boschetti, but he fits us," said defensive coordinator Greg Blache, Boschetti's position coach the past four seasons. "He represents who we are - blue-collar, hard-nosed, tough, might not be the prettiest but will fight you till you put us under. ... He can play tackle. He can play end. And the one thing you know, you'll get every ounce he's got. Even though he hasn't been in football for three months, if he had to play three quarters Sunday, he'll go out and battle three quarters."
Boschetti, who turned 27 last month, had worked out for a couple of teams, most recently the Buffalo Bills, since being cut. He was planning to head home to California for Thanksgiving on Monday when his cell phone showed an incoming call from Redskin Park.
"I was excited," said Boschetti, who reclaimed his No. 73 jersey. "The one advantage to not being in the throes of this is that you have more time to develop in the weight room. And I have a leg up on a lot of guys because I haven't been getting banged-up every day. But at the same time, I've got to get the football going again, the first step off the ball, the things that helped me stay in this league for a long time."
Boschetti said his teammates have helped him with the small changes the defense made in his absence. And with Griffin (shoulder) and Golston (ankle) hurting and Montgomery maybe not ready for full-time duty after a three-week absence, Boschetti might play alongside usual fourth tackle Lorenzo Alexander on Sunday against the NFC East-leading New York Giants.
"I just want to be available," said Boschetti, who was last active in Week 2 of 2007.
Griffin and Golston worked on the side during Thursday's practice. Middle linebacker London Fletcher (foot), defensive end Andre Carter (foot), running back Clinton Portis (ribs, knee) remained sidelined. While Portis is likely to play, Zorn said Fletcher remained in a walking boot - though he carried it while walking to his car upon leaving Redskin Park - and likely will miss the first game of his 11-year career. H.B. Blades, who started on the strong side for Marcus Washington (ankle) in Seattle, would move inside if Fletcher is out with Alfred Fincher making his first career start on the strong side.
Zorn said Carter is out of the boot but that his foot is "very, very ginger," making it likely that Demetric Evans will start at left end and Jason Taylor at right end. Offensive tackle Chris Samuels (knee) was limited Thursday but should start on Sunday along with guard Pete Kendall (knees), also back after sitting out on Wednesday.
Rookie free agent Matterral Richardson might have made the Redskins this summer if fellow first-year cornerback Justin Tryon hadn't been a fourth-round draft pick. Richardson had been on the practice squad all year until Thursday, when he was signed to the Houston Texans' roster.
The Redskins filled the vacancy with safety Michael Grant, a rookie free agent from Arkansas who had been on Kansas City's practice squad for two weeks after being in training camp with Jacksonville under former Washington defensive boss Gregg Williams.
Chance to help out
The Redskins will induct Sean Taylor into their Ring of Honor before the game, but fans can honor the slain safety in more tangible ways than cheering.
Fans can bring new, unwrapped toys to the stadium to donate to the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots campaign for needy area children. Items can be donated in honor of Taylor's 2-year-old daughter, Jackie, whose trust fund will also be the recipient of proceeds from merchandise sales of Taylor memorabilia at the game. Fans also can drop off toys at Redskins Official Stores at Montgomery Mall, Tysons Corner and Dulles Town Center or contribute at toysfortots.org.
By Elaine Donnelly
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