- The Washington Times - Friday, December 18, 2009

Vinny Cerrato stripped Jim Zorn of his playcalling duties two months ago. Cerrato resigned Thursday as executive vice president of football operations. Does that mean Zorn will be allowed to call the plays Monday night when the Washington Redskins host the New York Giants?

Don’t count on it.

Zorn’s frustration with his now ex-boss was obvious from the moment Cerrato hired Sherm Lewis out of retirement, took away the coach’s playcalling duties six games into the season and then entrusted them to the 67-year-old offensive consultant.

But the Redskins’ once-woeful offense has made significant progress in recent weeks, scoring at least 24 points in four of its past five games and cracking the 30-point barrier the past two weeks. As far as Zorn’s concerned, there’s no sense trying to fix something that’s not broken.

“Right now we’ll keep things just the way they are,” he said Thursday. “They’re working, and I love things that work. We’re going to try and finish strong and keep things as compatible and efficient as we can.”

Zorn was congenial when asked about Cerrato, refusing to let personal differences overshadow their professional relationship.

“He wasn’t trying to hurt our football team,” Zorn said. “He was trying to improve our football team. All those things he was behind and really tried to create, he tried to create a difference. You certainly can’t criticize that.”

Zorn did acknowledge that the front-office shakeup is yet another distraction for a squad that has been bombarded by outside controversy all season, but he insisted “our team will keep it together.”

Veteran players echoed that sentiment.

“The preparation still remains the same,” linebacker London Fletcher said. “As professionals, you have to focus on what’s at task right now for us - and that’s preparing for the New York Giants.”

Painful reminder

As difficult a situation as the Redskins face as they try to prepare for the final three games amid a front office renovation, they know it pales in comparison with the challenge ahead for the Cincinnati Bengals. On Thursday, the Bengals learned receiver Chris Henry, 26, had died after falling out of the back of a pickup truck in Charlotte, N.C.

News of Henry’s death brought back painful memories for Redskins players who two years ago lost Sean Taylor midseason.

“It’s going to be difficult for them to get through this,” Fletcher said. “I’ll tell them they need to lean on one another, talk to each other about it. Don’t try to hold it in, because it is tough.”

The Redskins lost their first game after Taylor’s death, then proceeded to win four straight to reach the playoffs. The Bengals enter this week 9-4, one win shy of clinching the AFC North title.

“It’s all about being a family and having thick skin,” fullback Mike Sellers said. “You pray on it, you try to get past it, but it’s hard. With Sean, it was hard for me to concentrate because we were so close. You don’t wish that on anybody.”

Injury updates

The Redskins’ offensive line, ravaged all season by injuries, suffered its latest hit when right tackle Stephon Heyer missed Thursday’s practice after tweaking his knee the previous day. Zorn said he expects Heyer to return Friday, which would be encouraging news for a club short on depth up front.

Will Robinson, who has spent the bulk of the season on the practice squad and has yet to appear on the field, was at right tackle in practice Thursday.

Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth (ankle) and cornerback D’Angelo Hall (knee) returned to practice, but each was limited. Sellers, defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin and safety Kareem Moore also were limited.

Kicker Graham Gano has a sore right ankle and was kept from kicking off during practice. He did attempt several field goals and showed no ill effects.

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