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Landry hopes surgery isn’t needed as free agency nears

Achilles tendon plaguing safety

- The Washington Times - Monday, January 23, 2012

MOBILE, Ala. — Washington Redskins strong safety LaRon Landry is proceeding toward free agency with hopes of avoiding surgery on his left Achilles tendon, coach Mike Shanahan said Monday after overseeing a Senior Bowl practice here.

Landry missed the Redskins' final five games of the season because of the Achilles and ended up on injured reserve list for the second straight season.

Dr. Robert Anderson, a renowned foot and ankle specialist, recommended last month that Landry have surgery. However, Landry is not following that course — at least not yet.

"I haven't talked to him," Shanahan said. "I just heard that he's not going to have surgery. That's the status right now. Hopefully, that heals up and he's ready to go."

Landry did not return a phone message. The sixth-overall draft pick in 2007 is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent when the new NFL league year begins March 13. His health will significantly impact his value among a thin group of safeties on the free agent market.

Hilliard new WRs coach

The Redskins filled two of their coaching vacancies Monday, even while most of the staff ran practice for the South team at the Senior Bowl.

Ike Hilliard replaces Keenan McCardell as Washington's wide receivers coach. Hilliard played receiver in the NFL for 12 seasons, including four with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2005 through 2008.

Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan was Tampa Bay's offensive assistant in 2005, and general manager Bruce Allen held that position with the Buccaneers for Hilliard's entire tenure there.

"He's got some great experience in the league," Mike Shanahan said. "I've heard some great things about him from different people he played for and coached for, and I just thought it was a good fit for us."

Hilliard, 35, began his coaching career with the Florida Tuskers of the United Football League in 2009. Current Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett was the coach of that team.

Washington also installed Bob Slowik as their linebackers coach. After serving as the Redskins' defensive backs coach for the past two seasons, Slowik replaces position coach Lou Spanos, who left to become UCLA's defensive coordinator.

He coached the Chicago Bears' linebackers when he was the defensive coordinator there from 1996 through '97. He inherits a corps of linebackers that includes Pro Bowlers London Fletcher and Brian Orakpo.

"I'm looking forward to the group we have right there in Washington," Slowik said. "We've got a real good group, that's for sure."

The Redskins also made official the hiring of defensive backs coach Raheem Morris, who agreed to join the team almost two weeks ago.

Mike Shanahan said Morris will coach the cornerbacks and safeties, but he likely will have an assistant.

Coaches in preseason form

The calendar reads January, but Monday was reminiscent of a July training camp afternoon for the coaching staff.

Mike Shanahan stood with his arms folded watching the South team run drills at this annual showcase for draft-eligible seniors. And when the right side of the offensive line jumped offside, he burst into the huddle to coach them up.

Shanahan, though, was smiling after practice.

"We get a chance to not only see their athletic ability, but we get a chance see them in the classroom for four or five days, how they handle themselves, how they relate to coaches and players," Shanahan said. "So it's a good evaluation process."

The Redskins' staff ran Monday's practice like a normal session at team headquarters in Ashburn. Coaches will host meetings with players and run practices all week in preparation for Saturday's game.

"We're going to have fun doing it," Haslett said. "The guys are fun to coach."

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