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Buchanon’s return adds depth to the secondary

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cornerback Phillip Buchanon practiced with the Washington Redskins on Tuesday for the first time since the regular season began. His four-game suspension has expired, and he could play against the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 16. The Redskins have their bye this weekend.

Buchanon was suspended during the offseason for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

"It was an honest mistake," he said. "Things happen. ... I don't want to talk about it."

The Redskins have until Oct. 10 to make a corresponding move if they wish to reinstate Buchanon to their active 53-man roster. They knew of the suspension before they re-signed him to a free agent contract in August.

Buchanon was the Redskins' third cornerback last season. When opponents used three or more receivers, Buchanon would play on the outside and Carlos Rogers would play in the slot. Kevin Barnes has filled the nickel role through four games, with Josh Wilson staying on the outside. Rogers departed in free agency and now plays for San Francisco.

Buchanon, 31, had two interceptions and forced two fumbles last season.

"He made a lot of plays for us last year, and he's a guy that knows what's going on," cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. "To get him back is going to definitely add depth. He's going to have KB [Barnes] and a lot of other guys scrambling to keep their positions, but we look forward to it."

Buchanon's status might be affected by the shoulder injury he suffered during the preseason finale. The time away helped him heal, though. He said he'll spend the bye week in Ashburn receiving treatment at team headquarters.

"That looked pretty good today," coach Mike Shanahan said. "He's going to help us right away, and he can help our football team. I've got to check out here in the next couple of weeks what type of football shape he's in and hopefully he can help us out against Philadelphia."

Hightower hurting

Running back Tim Hightower was frustrated that a left shoulder injury he suffered in practice last week affected his performance in Sunday's 17-10 win over the St. Louis Rams.

He had only 24 yards on eight carries, and Ryan Torain rushed for 135 yards on 19 attempts in his first game action of the season.

"I wasn't 100 percent, as much as I didn't want to say that," Hightower said. "I want to win, and I don't want to hurt my team.

"I'm not a very vocal guy when it comes to injuries because I tend to internalize things. I try to deal with it on my own first. I want to play football, and I don't want to be hurt. Players have to find that fine line between being honest with your coach and letting him know what's going on because at a certain point you can't be hurting your team."

Part of the reason Shanahan gave Torain a chance against the Rams was because Hightower aggravated his shoulder early in the game. But Shanahan praised Hightower for his touchdown-saving tackle on the first of Rex Grossman's two interceptions in the fourth quarter.

Take five

The Redskins practiced Tuesday morning before embarking on their bye week plans. Shanahan gave them five days off. They'll return to practice Monday.

"I've asked them to get at least a couple of days of running in and told them, 'God is watching.' We'll have to go with the honor system," Shanahan said. "We have guys that understand - we're four games into the season and we have a lot to get done. I want their bodies to rest and mentally get away from football a little bit even though some may watch on the weekend. But when they come back Monday, they'll be ready to go against Philadelphia."

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