- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 1, 2008

A wine connoisseur who once referred to a skunk to describe his unit’s play, Washington Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Blache has added cooking to his ways of gearing up for a game.

Putting on his apron, Chef Blache said the Redskins have “the ingredients to be a very good football team and they know the recipe, but having those doesn’t mean anything if you’re not a good chef. We have to become Emeril [Lagasse] or Paul Prudhomme. It’s just a matter of cooking it up.

“The great cooks know when to simmer, when to add, when to subtract and the progression in what you do things. We have to be able to focus on this week and the next eight weeks to give us a chance. Regardless of what’s happened in the past, we’re only at halftime.”

The Redskins’ defense ranks sixth in yards allowed, fifth in rushing and eighth in scoring - even though 17 players have started at least one game. The Redskins are 6-2 vs. a schedule that included five of the NFL’s top eight offenses. But Blache was grumpy after last week’s win against Detroit because he saw signs during practice that the defense wasn’t on point as usual.

Still, he didn’t need to say much.

“They knew when it was going on,” he said. “It’s one of those things [like] when you’re playing golf, you know something is lacking in your game, but you don’t know how to correct it at the time. That’s what [owner] Dan Snyder pays me to do - be that eye and say, ‘It’s this and it’s that’ and have the guys refocus on the little things they’re doing wrong.”

Said defensive tackle Kedric Golston: “One thing I know about coach Blache is that he wants your best in whatever it is. And he feels we haven’t been taking care of our business like he wants us to. That’s why we respect him. He shouldn’t settle, and nobody wants him to settle.”

Moss still sidelined

Running back Clinton Portis returned to practice Friday, leaving receiver Santana Moss’ hamstring as the biggest injury concern heading into Monday night’s game against Pittsburgh.

“Feeling like I felt last week - it’s getting better every day,” said Moss, who is slated to be a game-time decision. “You just got to go off how your body feels. My body will let me know how it feels come Monday.”

Said coach Jim Zorn: “Santana is coming right along. He got rid of the soreness and did some drill work. … I don’t want to test it to where it will strain; I want to test it to where it continues to feel good every day. I don’t want him to go out there and play a couple plays and say, ‘It doesn’t feel good.’ If he can play, I want him to participate fully.”

Portis, cornerback Carlos Rogers and safety LaRon Landry returned to practice after sitting out all or most of Wednesday and Thursday. Portis said he only caught passes on the side.

Aware of Polamalu

As if Pittsburgh’s talented linebackers weren’t enough to worry about, the Redskins must account for safety Troy Polamalu, too. He leads the Steelers with three interceptions and also has 33 tackles.

“He has some freedoms and some disguises,” Zorn said. “He’s a great player and very confident in knowing the scheme of his front and the coverage and how they work together.”

Polamalu moves all around the field and, much like Landry with the Redskins, is often going backward at the snap.

“He’ll be over [center] Casey Rabach and then, at the snap of the ball, he’s playing deep outside,” Zorn said. “But if you run at him, he won’t play deep - he’s going to try and make the tackle. He’s a large task.”

Staff writer David Elfin contributed to this article.

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