- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said yesterday top lieutenants Gregg Williams and Al Saunders will be back next season even though the team has been eliminated from playoff contention.

Williams’ defense has crashed to 23rd in the league after ranking in the top 10 the previous two seasons. The offense is 17th in its first year under Saunders, who guided Kansas City’s NFL-leading offense from 2001 to 2005.

“When you’re 4-9, you’ve got a lot of questions,” Gibbs said. “We’ve got a set plan of what we want to do. We’ve got the people here we want to do it with. We’ve got people here we’ve got confidence in. … It does include Gregg and Al.”

O-line hurting

Casey Rabach had two pins placed in his broken left hand yesterday, but Gibbs is hopeful the center will be able to snap Sunday at New Orleans.

“We’re hoping,” Gibbs said. “It will be interesting to see how sore it is. What he thinks.”

Meanwhile, right tackle Jon Jansen broke his right thumb Sunday and has been playing on a badly strained right calf for a month. Jansen broke both thumbs last September but played the entire season and is confident the latest break will not keep him from playing.

“Our other concern is Jon,” Gibbs said. “He’s probably played three of his best games [since he hurt his calf]. He refuses to come out of there. It’s gotten a little worse each week. [But] we’ll have to see how it goes during the week.”

Rabach has started all 31 games since coming to Washington in 2005. Jansen has started every game during his eight seasons except for 2004, when he was sidelined with a torn Achilles tendon. Although backup center Mike Pucillo and reserve offensive tackle Todd Wade have been NFL starters, Gibbs doesn’t plan to make any changes unless forced to by injuries.

“Everybody who can play is going to play,” Gibbs said. “Each one of these games is critical for us. No experiments.”

Left tackle Chris Samuels didn’t come out Sunday after he sprained his right wrist blocking ex-teammate Jeremiah Trotter.

“I’m fine,” Samuels said. “It’s a little sprain. It’s nothing serious.”

Vincent plans to stay

Troy Vincent is 35, and hamstring injuries have limited him to just four games this season. However, Washington’s strong safety plans to return to the Redskins next season. While it was reported that Vincent signed a one-year deal with the Redskins on Oct. 17, it actually was a three-year contract.

“I’m not the answer, but I can help this defense,” said Vincent, who started last month against Dallas, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay before straining a hamstring against the Buccaneers and missing the next two games. “I can make [free safety] Sean Taylor better. When I’m on the field, there’s a presence that I bring. Last season was a good season in making the transition, but there were some things left on the table. There’s something I want to fulfill at the safety position, some things I want to accomplish, some things I want to prove to myself.”

Vincent, surprisingly, didn’t get much of a chance to prove anything in Sunday’s 21-19 loss to the Eagles. Although he said he was fully recovered, Vincent played sparingly in place of Vernon Fox.

Good on all four

After missing his lone field goal try in his Washington debut Dec. 3, Shaun Suisham bounced back against the Eagles, nailing all four of his attempts from 31, 45, 32 and 35 yards and averaging the 6-yard line on his six kickoffs.

“I made some kicks,” Suisham said. “That’s nice, but it’s hard to be excited when you don’t win.”

Suisham, Washington’s 16th kicker during the last 12 seasons, was the first to go 4-for-4 on field goals since John Hall on Oct. 3, 2004, also in a loss to the Eagles.

Off the bench

Hampered by a sprained right ankle and a still-healing sprained right wrist, defensive end Phillip Daniels didn’t start for the first time since going on injured reserve in December 2004. Former starter Renaldo Wynn took his place.

“It felt kind of strange, but I just do what they ask me to do,” Daniels said. “They were looking out for me. I didn’t argue about it. I know Renaldo’s got my back. It really doesn’t matter who starts. I just wish I had known earlier in the week so I could get my mind frame right. But I played as much as I did when I started.”

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