- The Washington Times - Friday, August 13, 2004

Still trying to compensate for the loss of tackle Jon Jansen, the Washington Redskins continue to look for ways to improve their offensive line.

One day after signing 41-year-old guard Ray Brown, Washington worked out free agent tackle Marcus Spriggs at Redskin Park yesterday. Club sources said Spriggs, 30, looked impressive and that he could be signed shortly, pending a physical.

Spriggs, who has started 18 games in a seven-year career with the Bills, Dolphins and Packers, would be considered strictly for a reserve role at this point. But given the domino effect of Jansen’s season-ending Achilles’ injury, the Redskins want to do as much as they can to solidify their offensive line during the preseason.

“Any time you get an injury, you want to upgrade this or that,” assistant head coach for offense Joe Bugel said. “You’re not looking for a starter. You’re just looking for guys who can come in and have some experience. If you can better your team, we’ll do it. We’ll never stand pat.”

Washington’s coaching staff is eager to see how newly appointed starter Kenyatta Jones performs under the spotlight tomorrow night, when he makes his first start for the club at right tackle against the Carolina Panthers. Jones, a fourth-year veteran who started 11 games for New England at right tackle in 2002, will be working alongside guard Randy Thomas for the first time.

Thomas sat out Monday’s exhibition opener with a lingering knee injury, but he has returned to practice this week and expects to start tomorrow night, giving Bugel his first opportunity to see the new projected starting offensive line in action.

“We have a really strong left side right now with [tackle] Chris Samuels and [guard] Derrick Dockery, and [centers] Lennie Friedman and Cory Raymer are great anchors inside,” Bugel said. “It’s just a matter of getting our right side settled. Randy Thomas is a heck of a football player, but we’ve got to watch him because of his knee. Saturday night, hopefully we’ll have Randy at right guard and Kenyatta at right tackle. Hey, that’s a pretty salty group there.”

Said Thomas, who started all 16 games last season: “It’s time for me to show up.”

Take cover

The Redskins hoped to get a full day of practices in yesterday, with workouts scheduled for both the morning and afternoon, and fans and media no longer allowed to watch.

They managed to get their full morning practice in, but the afternoon session had to be cut short after less than 30 minutes because of heavy rains and lightning.

Coach Joe Gibbs has no qualms about keeping his players outside during a cloudburst, but he won’t subject them to the dangers of a thunderstorm.

“I was hoping to get some work in the rain. I think we need it. I kind of like practicing in it,” he said. “But lightning makes a big difference — you can’t stay out there. So we came in and had a walkthrough in the gym and tried to get the most out of it.”

The Redskins are one of the few teams left in the NFL without an indoor practice facility, and ex-coach Steve Spurrier pushed for one last year when heavy rains flooded the practice fields at Redskin Park.

Gibbs, though, has no interest in putting one of the fields under a “bubble.”

“Never,” he said. “I don’t like bubbles. You play outside. It’s an outdoor game. I want to be in the rain, because you have a lot of those adverse weather conditions. I don’t think there’s any other way to get used to that except to be out in it. You need to be out in the heat, rain, snow, sleet, the whole deal.”

Injury update

Linebacker Mike Barrow, who missed Monday’s game with tendinitis in his left knee, will not play tomorrow night either. But, the club is not concerned.

“There’s a game plan,” Gibbs said. “He’s not going to play this week, but I think we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Running back/kick returner Chad Morton sat out practice with an ankle injury, but he’s expected to play tomorrow against Carolina.

Also among those skipping yesterday afternoon’s workout were defensive end Regan Upshaw (sore knee), defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin (sprained ankle) and cornerback Rashad Bauman (strained hamstring).

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