- The Washington Times - Friday, October 3, 2008

Already without defensive end Jason Taylor, the Washington Redskins might have to play Sunday in Philadelphia without top cornerback Shawn Springs, who left last week’s game in Dallas with a strained left calf and hasn’t been able to run since.

“If he doesn’t practice tomorrow, I’ll probably just shut him down,” coach Jim Zorn said after Springs didn’t practice again Thursday. “As much as he has to explode off his legs, he has to be ready. I hope I don’t have to do that, but that’s a real possibility.”

Taylor, who has been out since undergoing emergency surgery to relieve compartment syndrome in his left calf, had an appointment with surgeon Chris Annunziata during Thursday’s practice and was told to take it easy afterward. Therefore Taylor did not jog on the side like he did Wednesday. The stitches will remain in his calf for a couple more weeks.

“[Dr. Annunziata] was happy with everything,” Taylor said. “The incision’s a big thing, not getting an infection. To get some feeling back, the muscle back and be able to support myself the right way to play football, I’m probably ahead in some things and not where I want to be in other things.”

Taylor had played in 133 straight games, the NFL‘s seventh-longest streak, before last Sunday and he had a hard time watching his teammates battle the Cowboys without him.

“You really feel like you’re not part of the team,” Taylor said. “I’m not used to it, and I don’t like it. [But] I have to listen and be smart. I don’t want to set myself back to where I have to miss a lot more time. There have been guys who’ve come back in a week or two and played, and some guys have taken the season. It’s a matter of how [my] body reacts, and everybody has different degrees of what the problem was. Mine was somewhere in between.”

Springs’ possible absence might not be as critical as it would’ve been a month ago because of the emergence of cornerback Carlos Rogers, who the Redskins thought might just be returning to action now after tearing an ACL last Oct. 28. Rogers excelled at covering Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens after Springs went out last week.

“Carlos has grown up more in the last three weeks than in the previous three years,” defensive coordinator Greg Blache said. “If he keeps playing like he’s playing, Carlos has got to be considered for the Pro Bowl. For a guy that wasn’t even supposed to be playing until October, he’s played really exceptionally well against some big-time receivers.”

Blache said improved study habits have made the difference for Rogers, whom the Redskins chose ninth overall in the 2005 draft.

“All of a sudden, all the wires connected,” Blache said. “He has always been fearless, but now he’s got this knowledge and confidence to go with his courage and that natural athletic ability. I think you’re going to see a different Carlos from here on out.”

The Redskins could be without a third defensive starter Sunday as strongside linebacker Marcus Washington’s hamstring, which sidelined him Sept. 14 against New Orleans, acted up after the morning walk-through and kept him out of the afternoon practice.

Still, Zorn said Washington is more likely than Springs to play against the Eagles.

Right tackle Stephon Heyer’s sprained left shoulder kept him out again Thursday, meaning it’s even more likely that Jon Jansen will get a second straight start. Right guard Randy Thomas was limited again with turf toe but is expected to play. Right end Andre Carter missed a second straight practice for personal reasons.

Rookie of the month

Chris Horton was named the NFL’s defensive rookie of the month for September. Although he didn’t replace Reed Doughty as the starting strong safety until last week, the seventh-round draft pick has a team-high three interceptions and a fumble recovery.

“I’m doing what I’ve been doing all my life, which is playing football and making plays,” Horton said. “All I ever asked for was the opportunity.”

Some of Horton’s teammates have teasingly outlined the carpet in masking tape in front of his locker to keep him in his place.

“He’s had a great first month,” Blache said. “[But] he’s going to have be a guy who does all the things right because he’s not one of these guys who’s 6-5 [and runs] 4.3. He’s going to have to become a very good worker, a very good student of the game to be able to continue to grow.”

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