- The Washington Times - Monday, November 22, 2004

Washington Redskins rookie Mark Wilson hasn’t played a down in the NFL, but this weekend he is expected to start at right tackle in a line shuffle precipitated by right guard Randy Thomas’ strained hamstring.

Wilson, a fifth-round draft choice, should start Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers’ top-ranked defense. Making his task particularly difficult is the fact that Pittsburgh plays a 3-4 front (three down linemen, four linebackers), while most NFL teams use the more conventional 4-3.

Thomas is expected to miss two-to-four weeks while recovering from a significant strain, which forced him out of Sunday’s 28-6 loss at Philadelphia. Ray Brown, a 41-year-old who has played well at right tackle, will shift to his natural guard position, while Wilson becomes the latest Redskin to fill in for injured Jon Jansen.

“Maybe the reason why we’re going through [so many injuries] is now we [get a chance to] look at Mark Wilson,” coach Joe Gibbs said yesterday. “We’re going to throw him into one of the toughest games anyone could ever go in against.”

The Redskins selected Wilson, a four-year starter at California, and Notre Dame’s Jim Molinaro in the late rounds of April’s draft to provide assistant head coach for offense Joe Bugel a pair of young linemen to mold.

“We decided late in the draft that we were going to take two big tackles with the hope that we would hit on one,” Gibbs said. “I actually think we have two good prospects there. … Mark probably wouldn’t have got a chance to play. Now he’s got his opportunity.”

Molinaro, a sixth-round pick, has played on special teams and even as a goal-line defensive lineman, but Wilson generally has been inactive. The coaching staff is leaning away from starting Molinaro because he has practiced largely on the left side. Recently signed veteran Vaughn Parker, meanwhile, still isn’t in game shape

.

Hall could play

The Redskins could get kicker John Hall back this week — just in the nick of time, it seems, considering the struggles of replacement Ola Kimrin.

Kimrin has missed four of his past eight field goals, failing to hit from beyond 35 yards since he went 2-for-2 in his Oct. 17 debut at Chicago. The native of Sweden, who became something of a celebrity back home after the Bears game, also is struggling on kickoffs, where he has drawn penalties by hitting two out of bounds.

Kimrin remains confident about his field goals, noting that all of his misses have been well-struck, but he said he’s “rushing” his kickoffs.

“It’s one of those things that comes with experience,” said Kimrin, who at age 34 is getting his first regular-season opportunity.

Hall, who has missed the past five games with a strained groin, is scheduled to resume normal game-week duties tomorrow with the hope he will play against the Steelers.

Getting aggressive?

Quarterback Patrick Ramsey managed his first start of the season well and avoided major errors, veteran traits Ramsey believes could lead Gibbs to give him more deep-ball opportunities.

“I think if I show that I’m not going to throw it all over the place, then people may give us some more shots downfield,” said Ramsey, who had five interceptions in two appearances as a backup this season.

Gibbs, however, indicated Sunday’s game plan was reasonably aggressive and didn’t have much to do with any perception of Ramsey.

“We’re taking shots,” Gibbs said. “If they’re aggressive and come after us, then you’re going to get shots downfield. We probably got four or five of them. If you hook up on a couple of them, it changes the whole complexion of the game. But right now that’s not been the case with us.”

Extra points

Defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin (hip) did some light work at practice and could play against the Steelers. Linebackers LaVar Arrington (knee) and Mike Barrow (knee) and defensive end Phillip Daniels (groin) all appear unlikely to play. Defensive tackle Jermaine Haley suffered a mild MCL sprain and H-back Mike Sellers a painful toe sprain Sunday, but both should practice in coming days and play at Pittsburgh. …

Gibbs is in line to be a double-digit underdog for the second time in his career. After being spotted 10½ points by the oddsmakers last week — the first double-digit spread against him — he opened as a 10½-point underdog for the Steelers game. …

By participating in at least 35 percent of the Redskins’ plays this season and being part of a defense that is sure to improve its overall ranking (from 25th in 2003 to second at present), safety Sean Taylor is set to trigger $150,000 workout bonuses in the final five years of his rookie contract, a source familiar with the deal said.

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