While the NFL lockout threw off training camp for the Washington Redskins just like every other team, the third preseason game was supposed to be business as usual, with Thursday night's visit to Baltimore presenting the closest facsimile to the regular season.
Except on defense, the injury bug didn't cooperate. This was supposed to be the first chance for the new-look secondary to play together, except a "freak" hamstring injury to safety LaRon Landry and cornerback Josh Wilson's sore groin prevented it.
"I would have liked to get out there this week and build that chemistry and see how we actually play together in a game situation," Landry said. "But unfortunately accidents happen."
Landry, who was hoping to face the Ravens after recovering from an Achilles tendon issue, felt a "pop" while sprinting in Indianapolis last Friday. The new injury meant he couldn't play Thursday night in the preseason game.
Wilson said he and his teammates couldn't dwell on Landry's absence.
"LaRon's a great player, and when he comes back we're going to be even more powerful," said Wilson, who also missed Thursday night's game because of hamstring and groin injuries. Wilson signed as a free agent from Baltimore on July 27.
At the Colts last week, the Redskins were without three-quarters of their starting secondary. Safety Oshiomogho Atogwe was kept out by his hamstring and Wilson by a sore groin. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall was the only regular starter in the lineup.
It didn't hurt too badly, as Washington allowed just three points. Going into Thursday, the Redskins led the league in defense with 168 yards a game allowed.
"You know what's important to me, we haven't given up a lot of points," defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. "That's what wins games. It's not where you end up numbers-wise. That's more fantasy football and all that."
In reality, not having Wilson, Landry and Atogwe might help the Redskins' younger players. Haslett pointed to the contributions of Brandyn Thompson, Byron Westbrook and Kevin Barnes as ones that "stood out."
"I thought those three in the back end stepped up and had an opportunity to perform," he said. "They did a nice job."
Barring more injuries, those players represent depth. Landry, Atogwe, Wilson and Hall will be leaned on heavily. Hall admitted it was "going to definitely be tough" to have just one preseason game — or even none — to adapt.
It's a matter of understanding one another's routine, because Landry might approach a play differently than fill-in Reed Doughty.
"That's really something that we need to do just to get a feel for one another and see how each other likes to play things," Wilson said.
With Landry putting into doubt his availability for the preseason finale against Tampa Bay next week, the Redskins' defensive backs are doing what they can in practice to prepare.
"We're going to have a short dress rehearsal before we actually start up the real games," Hall said. "We're going to go out there and try to jell as much as possible."
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