There's a strong chance quarterback Robert Griffin III will make his Washington Redskins preseason debut Thursday night without half of the first-stringers on offense.
Running back Tim Hightower (left knee), fullback Darrel Young (left hamstring), left guard Kory Lichtensteiger (left knee) and right tackle Jammal Brown (hips) will not play against the Buffalo Bills, coach Mike Shanahan said.
Also, first-string right guard Chris Chester (sprained left ankle) is a "long shot," Shanahan said. "I don't want to rule him out because I don't know for sure how he's going to be [Wednesday], but it doesn't look good."
Second-year running back Evan Royster will start the game, Shanahan said.
Hightower still is recovering from ACL reconstruction surgery he had in November. He increased his practice activity this week to include one-on-one pass blocking drills. Shanahan hopes Hightower will return for the third preseason game Aug. 25 against Indianapolis.
Royster and second-year running back Roy Helu Jr. each will play about 20 plays, Shanahan said.
Kicker Graham Gano will play ahead of Neil Rackers, Shanahan said. The details of the timeshare haven't been finalized, but Shanahan expects Gano to attempt a field goal or extra point, then kick off, then sub out for Rackers to attempt the next field goal or extra point, and so on. The rotation would continue throughout the game.
Tight end Chris Cooley (left knee/groin/hamstring) sat out Tuesday's practice to rest, but he is expected to play.
Receiver Josh Morgan (left hamstring/right ankle) is expected to play. Receiver Anthony Armstrong will sit out with a sprained right shoulder.
RG3 tracking Olympic runners
Before Griffin became a household name playing quarterback, he was considered among the best track prospects in the country.
Some of the runners he competed against in high school and at Baylor currently are competing in the Olympics, so he's had an eye on the games since the track and field events began over the weekend.
"I've ran against a bunch of those guys," Griffin said Monday. "In the track world, we're all family and I'm really proud of everything that they're doing."
As a high school junior, Griffin was one hundredth of a second slower than the national high school record in the 300-meter hurdles.
After setting Texas state records in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles, he was named the 2007 Gatorade Texas Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year.
He probably would have broken the record as a senior, but he graduated high school early and enrolled at Baylor, where he continued to excel at track.
During the spring of 2008, Griffin was an All-American in the 400-meter hurdles. He won the Big 12 championship in that event with a time of 49.22 seconds.
He competed in the Olympic trials that year and finished 11th with a time of 49.38.
Griffin on Monday afternoon said he would watch Monday night's Olympic final of the 400-meter hurdles. Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic won gold in 47.63.
Griffin competed in only one track meet at Baylor after his first season. He had to change his body shape to withstand the rigors of playing quarterback. It was a sacrifice he was willing to make.
He's still a huge fan of the sport, though. He gave a shoutout Monday to Sanya Richards-Ross, the American who recently won Olympic gold in the 400 meters. Richards-Ross trains with Clyde Hart, the Baylor director of track and field who also trained sprinter Michael Johnson.
"It's pretty exciting to watch those races," Griffin said.
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