- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 5, 2005

The sharp odor emanating from a corner of the Washington Redskins locker room earlier this week was familiar but hard to pinpoint. Eventually, though, the source was found when Cedric Killings was preparing his ankle for practice.

It was Icy Hot.

Yes, it’s been that kind of week for the Redskins in general — 12 players have appeared on the injury report — and the defensive line in particular. Starting linemen Phillip Daniels, Cornelius Griffin and Joe Salave’a have spent most of their waking hours in the training room, attempting to get ready for tomorrow night’s game against Philadelphia.

Just as the starters have been hobbled, their reserves have returned to playable health. Killings’ sprained ankle and Aki Jones’ hamstring have kept them out of the last two games but both have returned to practice.

Not that the Redskins are overly worried. Injuries and how a team adjusts to them is a way of life in the NFL.

“We’ll have some guys show up and play,” said defensive coordinator Greg Blache, who coaches the line. “Hopefully, I won’t be one of them.”

Blache couldn’t be faulted for feeling a little lonely on the practice field this week when his position group was without three starters. But as a veteran NFL assistant, he also knows he can’t coach guys who aren’t on the field.

“I don’t do medical — I didn’t study that hard in school,” he said. “If they give me a guy, I coach them; if they don’t give me a guy, I don’t coach them. I don’t coach in the training room.”

Salave’a (foot) and Daniels (ankle) are expected to play tomorrow night. Griffin’s hip, injured against San Francisco, limited him to fewer than five plays against the Giants and he was downgraded from questionable to doubtful yesterday.

The starters’ situations puts the pressure on young reserves like tackles Jones, Killings and Ryan Boschetti and end Demetric Evans to perform like starters, regardless of where they play on the line.

“It’s like musical chairs,” end Renaldo Wynn said. “It’s probably like training camp for those guys because they’re having to learn a lot of positions.”

The four players have a combined nine NFL starts and Jones never has played in a regular season game.

“We look for universal guys, guys that can play more than one position,” assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams said. “Whoever we have in there, we’ll have a plan for them and the skills they bring into the mix.”

Boschetti has been a part of the regular tackle rotation in all seven games and has six tackles. Killings would have been called upon at tackle when Griffin and Salave’a went down, but he watched the Giants game on television. Amazingly, he didn’t turn the channel.

“It was tough to watch because, looking at it happen, it didn’t seem like us,” he said of the 36-0 defeat. “All my guys were getting beat up and the injuries were all happening at once.”

Daniels, who rolled his ankle in the second half, and Salave’a, who originally injured his foot against Kansas City, kept plugging away, even when the game spiraled out of control.

“The guys we have on the D-line are especially tough guys and they know they have to deal with pain when you’re playing football,” said defensive tackle Brandon Noble, who is out for the season with a knee injury. “Sometimes it’s a good thing and sometimes it’s a bad thing. When you’re playing hurt, you’re not playing as well as you can, by no fault of your own.”

Salave’a has spent the last several weeks sleeping in a boot-type cast and enduring a pain he has compared to walking over a bed of glass. He said the only time it doesn’t bother him on the field is when “I’m taking a drink on the sideline.”

“It’s hard to go home and not be able to pick up your kid because my foot is hurting so much,” Salave’a added. “I don’t know too much about it and I’m glad I don’t because I don’t want to get freaked out.”

As much as he doesn’t want to talk about the injuries, the pride in Blache’s voice was evident when he was asked how much he appreciated his players’ desire.

“I admire my guys all the time,” he said. “I’m not just proud of them after they win. I’m proud of my guys for who they are — their character, their work ethic, their respect for each other and the game and their passion to help teammates out.”

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