- The Washington Times - Monday, May 7, 2007

Derrick Blaylock has played in more NFL games than many of the other hopefuls in Washington Redskins minicamp even have watched.

But the former Kansas City Chiefs and New York Jets running back was just happy to be in an NFL uniform again, even on a tryout basis.

“I’m not above this,” said 27-year-old Blaylock, who has played in 51 games in six seasons. “I love the game, and I’m not ready to be finished playing. That’s what drives me.”

Blaylock played ahead of future stud Larry Johnson with the Chiefs in 2004, but he carried just 25 times for the running back-deprived Jets last year and was waived in the offseason.

The 5-foot-9, 200-pound Blaylock showed the Redskins enough that they hope he fills one of their three roster vacancies today.

“Derrick was a very productive player in Kansas City,” said associate coach Al Saunders, who was the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator from 2001 to 2004. “This is a nice opportunity for him to come into an offense that he’s familiar with. He’s a very competitive guy and a very reliable player. He’s got some innate speed. He’s an excellent pass blocker. Hopefully he’ll sign with us.”

Local kids make good?

Like Blaylock, tryout tight end Zach Hilton is a former Jets player. The 26-year-old from Silver Spring started six games and caught 35 passes for New Orleans in 2005 but was cut by the Saints and the Jets last year.

So when his hometown team called and offered a spot at rookie camp, the 6-foot-8, 262-pound Hilton jumped at the chance.

“Last year was very shocking because I was coming off a really productive season and expecting to build on that,” Hilton said. “I’ve always wanted to be a Redskin, but right now I want a job more than anything.”

Hilton might have landed one, at least for training camp.

“Zach has some experience, which we’re looking for, and does real well in the passing game,” tight ends coach Rennie Simmons said. “It’s kind of hard to tell in the running game [because of the camp’s noncontact basis].”

Tryout defensive tackle Keenan Carter, a former Virginia player from Dumfries, has been a Redskins fan his whole life. So getting a chance to wear the burgundy and gold, even if just for the weekend, was a thrill.

“It’s like a dream just being here,” the 6-1, 340-pound Carter said. “… I’m not nervous about [getting cut]. I think I showed them my explosiveness and quickness.”

Man with a mission

Tight end Tyler Ecker, the Redskins’ seventh-round draft choice, was noticed more for what he did off the field during his tenure at Michigan than for anything he did wearing cleats.

Ecker, a Spanish major, was an Academic All-Big Ten selection in 2005 and 2006 after serving on a Mormon mission in 2001 and 2002.

“My mission was a great experience,” said the 25-year-old from El Dorado Hills, Calif. “I helped out in South Houston in a Hispanic community teaching English, helping people find jobs and places to live. Seeing the impact you have is very rewarding. I matured a lot. I went from a goofy guy to kind of getting my life together.”

In trying to further his football career, Ecker, who caught just 57 passes for six touchdowns at Michigan, had an advantage this weekend because of his brainpower.

“It’s more of a mental game right now because we’re running around without a lot of pads on,” Ecker said. “It’s been intense, a lot of memorizing.”

Simmons said the 6-foot-6, 246-pound Ecker should develop into “a good, solid blocker. He’s got the smarts and very good instincts, and he can catch the ball. He just needs to fill out a little bit.”

Extra points

Saunders said backup quarterback Mark Brunell, who had shoulder surgery Jan. 8, won’t throw in a team drill until training camp in late July. Saunders was not sure when No. 1 running back Clinton Portis, who had shoulder surgery Dec. 5, might be cleared for full participation. …

The Redskins brought in former Maryland receiver Danny Melendez as a tryout player yesterday. …

Defensive end Justin Hickman, signed by the Redskins as a rookie free agent last Monday, didn’t practice after injuring his left knee Saturday.



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