- The Washington Times - Friday, July 31, 2009

Phillip Daniels, a 13-year veteran, was as excited as a rookie after the Washington Redskins’ first practice of training camp Thursday.

The reason a routine workout so pleased the 36-year-old defensive end? Daniels made it through unscathed - unlike last season, when he suffered a season-ending knee injury on the first snap of camp.

“I was joking with the coaching staff [that] maybe I shouldn’t go the first play,” Daniels said with a grin. “I didn’t go in until the eighth play, so that was good. … Once I put my hand in the dirt, I don’t think about it no more. I don’t feel it or anything, so I’m good.”

Greg Blache’s defense ranked fourth overall and eighth against the run last season, but the coordinator said Daniels’ absence was sorely felt.

“Besides being a good power rusher, a good inside rusher, the guy’s a dominant player in the run game,” Blache said. “You don’t run at Phillip Daniels. I’m excited he’s back healthy. He looks good moving around. You look at his body - all you guys would like to borrow it for a day or two. The guy looks like Adonis.”

Daniels, veteran defensive tackles Albert Haynesworth and Cornelius Griffin and second-year receiver Malcolm Kelly rested during the team portion of the afternoon practice. All of those players but Haynesworth, a newcomer who finished last season for the Tennessee Titans with an ailing knee, underwent surgery in the past 13 months.

Coach Jim Zorn asked London Fletcher to rest too, but the 34-year-old middle linebacker declined. Running back hopeful Dominique Dorsey was carted off the field during the afternoon session suffering from cramps.

No news on Orakpo

Alfred Fincher signed with the Redskins a year ago after being cut by the lowly Detroit Lions. On Thursday, Fincher started at strongside linebacker in place of the club’s unsigned top draft choice, Brian Orakpo.

Executive vice president Vinny Cerrato said there were no developments in contract talks with Ben Dogra, Orakpo’s agent.

“When a guy holds out, it doesn’t benefit him, it doesn’t benefit the football team,” said Blache, noting that Orakpo is also making the switch to linebacker from defensive end.

H.B. Blades, who started five games on the strong side last season when Marcus Washington was hurt, has returned to second-string middle linebacker.

“Every day Orakpo’s not here, it’s an opportunity for me, and I’ve got to make the best of it,” said Fincher, who played almost solely on special teams last season. “Last year, I just wanted to make the team and get their trust. This year, I want to be a factor.”

Samuels, Thomas back

Six-time Pro Bowl pick Chris Samuels finished last season on injured reserve with a torn triceps. Guard Randy Thomas probably should have joined him there instead of playing with a herniated disk in his neck.

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