Judging by the number of players wearing stocking caps and not football helmets Wednesday, the Washington Redskins are glad they have an extra day to heal for Monday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Ten of the team’s 53 players sat out practice, including three starting defensive backs, the No. 1 receiver, the top two running backs and the kick returner.
“I think it was out of necessity,” coach Jim Zorn said of the no-pads practice. “We took the advantage of resting them Monday and Tuesday, but we have guys that are nicked up a bit but enough so that it wouldn’t have been a quality practice for them.”
The full list: Left guard Pete Kendall (knees), defensive end Jason Taylor (calf), safety LaRon Landry (hamstring), kick returner Rock Cartwright (knee), running backs Clinton Portis (hip, ankle) and Ladell Betts (knee), receivers Santana Moss (hamstring) and Malcolm Kelly (knee) and cornerbacks Carlos Rogers (ankle) and Shawn Springs (calf).
Returning to practice after missing the Detroit game were safety Chris Horton, defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin and left tackle Chris Samuels.
Springs, Kelly, Taylor and Betts won’t play this week, but the others are expected to be available.
Kendall added a dislocated finger to his dossier.
“He just needed a break,” Zorn said. “Dislocated finger, knees, old body … sorry, Pete.”
Portis, Moss honored
Portis was named NFC offensive player of the month and Moss NFC special teams player of the week Wednesday.
Portis rushed for 575 yards and four touchdowns in October.
“When you get an individual accolade like that, it’s well-deserved because he’s proven week in and week out he can run hard and get those yards,” Zorn said. “But it’s a team award because we have to play defense to get the ball back and the offensive line has to do as good a job as they can to open up those seams.”
Moss returned a punt 80 yards for a touchdown at Detroit.
Good, fast, big
Pittsburgh’s 3-4 defense ranks first in passing yards and total yards, third against the run and second in sacks. The Steelers already have 25 sacks, led by linebackers James Harrison (8.5) and LaMarr Woodley (7.5).
“They’re good. They’re fast. They’re big,” Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell said. “They give you every type of look. It’s another test, and I have to study film to prepare because I’ll have to get the ball out of my hands and make quick decisions.”
Said Kendall: “They’re known throughout the league for having an aggressive scheme but also one that is difficult to get a handle on. They have a lot of flexibility because they have a lot of depth and their players are interchangeable and can do different things.”
Short pass, long gain
Redskins tight end Chris Cooley has added the screen pass to the list of his effective routes. He gained 14 and 17 yards on two such plays against Detroit.
Against the Lions, Cooley engaged with a pass rusher before releasing and becoming a receiver. On both plays, the Redskins went empty backfield to help deceive the defense into thinking Cooley would remain a pass protector.
“We’ve run it probably seven, eight times this year, and it’s worked a lot,” he said. “They have to respect that I’m going to pass block seven, eight times a game, so it’s not a giveaway when I set to block. It’s not something you can do every week.”