- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Probably no Washington Redskins players are further from winning roster spots than rookie free agent defensive linemen Antonio Dixon and J.D. Skolnitsky.

Not only do the Redskins boast established starters, but Dixon and Skolnitsky are getting fewer snaps than guys like Jeremy Jarmon and Rob Jackson.

With at most 10 jobs available and 12 players ahead of them, Dixon and Skolnitsky only can hope they’re deemed worthy of grooming on the practice squad. However, Skolnitsky and Dixon aren’t giving in to the long odds. Each played well in his first preseason game Thursday against the Baltimore Ravens.

Dixon led the defensive line with five tackles, four of which were for losses. Skolnitsky had Washington’s only sack, two tackles and drew a holding penalty, prompting a slew of text messages from family and friends as well as his college position coach.

“It was just one game, but it was against a real good O-line,” said Dixon, who returned Tuesday afternoon after missing the morning practice with back spasms. “Everybody in our locker room came up to me after the game and told me I stepped up big.”

But only after almost collapsing from exhaustion on the first series of the second half. The Ravens held the ball for 5:22 and 13 snaps. With Lorenzo Alexander out with an abdominal strain, the coaches left the 24-year-old Dixon in for the entire 89-yard drive.

“Antonio did a real nice job, but… he could not have played a full game,” coach Jim Zorn said. “He was totally exhausted. [After the] long drive, he came off, but [he and] the field goal team had to go back on, and you should have seen the look on his face.”

Zorn was pleased to see the 6-foot-3, 322-pound Miami graduate chugging alongside the quarterbacks in wind sprints after practices since the Baltimore game.

“You love to see guys that are coachable and when you make a correction… very soon after that, the guy gets it,” Zorn said.

The 6-5, 255-pound Skolnitsky, who was signed after attending the May 1-3 minicamp on a tryout basis, started to get it while sidelined for a week with a tender hamstring. That followed a rough start to camp during which defensive line coach John Palermo got on the James Madison product during practices.

“When J.D. missed that [many practices], I was a little concerned, but it gave him time to watch the other guys and learn schemewise,” Palermo said. “He came back strong. He came back a better player.”

D-line still ahead

Starting right guard Randy Thomas and reserve center Will Montgomery were the only offensive linemen to clearly win their two tests, beating Phillip Daniels and Michael Marquardt during morning one-on-one duels.

Mike Williams sat out the afternoon after spraining an ankle during the lengthy 11-on-11 drills that concluded the practice. Linebacker Robert Thomas was ill and didn’t practice.

More rookie hazing

A day after draft picks Kevin Barnes and Robert Henson were tied to a goal post after practice, first-rounder Brian Orakpo and Skolnitsky received the same treatment. Andre Carter let them loose after about 20 minutes.

“We told [Brian], ‘Don’t fight it. Let it happen,’ because if they fight it, worse things are going to happen,” Carter said. “He was a good sport about it.”

K. Campbell finds a team

Five months after spurning a minimum salary offer from the Redskins, linebacker Khary Campbell signed with the Houston Texans. Campbell, 30, led the Redskins in special teams tackles from 2005 to 2008.

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