The dormant Washington Redskins pass rush, which has recorded no sacks in the last two games and only six all season, could get a boost Sunday against the St. Louis Rams.
Defensive end Jason Taylor practiced Thursday for the first time since undergoing left calf surgery for compartment syndrome on Sept. 22. Taylor was in full pads and said he did a “little bit of everything” during the workout.
Depending on how the leg responds overnight, Taylor will do more Friday and possibly be available following a two-game absence that ended his streak of 133 consecutive starts.
“I think [playing is a possibility] for me but we have to see what happens in the next 24 hours,” Taylor said. “It’s not all my call. … It feels good. I could tell I [had surgery] and there was a problem but it’s better than it was yesterday, better than it was a week ago. Hopefully tomorrow will be another step forward and it doesn’t swell up as much.”
Taylor was injured in the Arizona game Sept. 21 and then experienced pain and numbness in the leg that night. Hours later, he underwent the procedure to relieve pressure on a nerve.
Taylor wore a long sleeve on the leg and a pad covered the wound, which runs down the outside of the leg. During practice, he was hit on the injury but said the pad was effective.
“It was great to be out there for sure,” he said. “It was great to wear the pads and come out and practice and bang around a little bit. I’m trying to stay calm and not get my hopes up in case something bad happens between now and Sunday.”
Said coach Jim Zorn: “We’re doing everything we can to make sure he can stay healthy and go from there. He looked good. We have to make sure his conditioning is up to par for an NFL game. That may mean we have to limit his reps even if we do activate him.”
Without Taylor, the Redskins have struggled to get a consistent four-man pass rush. Defensive coordinator Greg Blache has played more coverage in an attempt to prevent big plays downfield.
Before getting injured, Taylor had one sack in three games. If he plays, he is expected to rotate with Demetric Evans and Chris Wilson.
The Redskins’ six sacks - including none in the last 76 drop backs - is more than only Kansas City, Cincinnati, Detroit and Houston. No Washington player has more than one sack.
“We would like to have more sacks but you do what you have to do to win,” Blache said. “You always need more pressure - you never have enough. The actual numbers don’t concern me as much as getting consistent pressure and winning football games.”
On the sacks, the Redskins have rushed five players and four players three times apiece.
According to statistics compiled by the defensive coaches, the Redskins have 27 quarterback hurries, including five by Andre Carter.
“I’ve had so many quote, unquote ‘close calls’ and hits and just getting there a little late,” Carter said. “I just have to keep going and it will come. I can’t focus on changing my stance and technique. I have to stay with what’s got me there before.”
Zorn isn’t concerned about the lack of sacks, citing the mobility of opposing quarterbacks and the discipline of the defensive linemen to not allow long scrambles.
“We’ve faced some very tough quarterbacks,” Zorn said. “You’re not going to sack Donovan McNabb much and you’re not going to sack Tony Romo much. A lot of times, we’re getting pressure but not finishing because the ball is already gone. I’m excited we’re containing the quarterback. We’re trying everything we can to get there but you can’t open up lanes for them to run in.”
The competition has also been good. The Redskins’ five opponents are currently ranked first, fourth, fifth, third and ninth in total offense. St. Louis is ranked 30th.
Even at less than 100 percent, getting Taylor back could be a boost. But if there is a flare up, he knows another week off is possible.
“You do want to protect it during the week and not be too crazy with it but I do realize I still have stitches in there and they can open back up,” he said. “There are things that can happen. You don’t want to be foolish.”
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