- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 3, 2009

Facing the league’s top offense, the Washington Redskins are expected to be without their top cornerback.

DeAngelo Hall, who suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee Nov. 22 at Dallas, tried to do agility drills Wednesday. But after the knee stiffened, he said “it’s not looking too good” for Sunday against New Orleans.

This is Hall’s first knee injury, and he’s depending on the advice of the Redskins’ medical staff before returning.

“I don’t really know how it’s supposed to respond, so I’m playing it by ear,” he said. “It’s not an injury I’m familiar with, but at the same time, I know my body well enough to know when I can tolerate something and when I can’t. I can’t go out there and play like I am right now. I’d hurt the team.”

The Saints average 275.4 passing yards, fourth in the NFL. They have six players with at least 20 catches and 10 with at least one touchdown grab.

“Last week [at Philadelphia] and this week, as a defensive back, these are the kinds of opponents you want to face,” Hall said.

Hall was injured while returning a fumble early against Dallas but returned to finish the game.

“It was hurting,” he said. “I wanted to be a part of something special, and I tried to will myself through it. I couldn’t really get out of my cuts and get out of my breaks, but they weren’t really throwing the ball so I was able to hide for the remainder of the game. I knew something was wrong - I just didn’t know how bad.”

The Redskins received better news on defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth (ankle), who was on the field for limited work.

“He’s still working through strengthening it, but he’s coming along fine,” coach Jim Zorn said. “The practice [snaps] I saw, he had a little quickness. … If he plays, he will want to play as much as he can, but this is his first week back after missing two games. We’ll monitor him.”

M. Williams back

Offensive lineman Mike Williams (ankle) worked with the starting offense Wednesday and is expected to start at right guard. He was inactive for two games after suffering an injury playing right tackle. Stephon Heyer is now starting at that position.

“It’s just getting some of the cobwebs out and getting back in the swing,” Williams said. “It’s not even really rust because I know the calls, but your eyes and stuff like that have to get redirected because you’re looking at different linebackers at guard and not tackle. It’s minor things, so it won’t take long.”

If Williams starts, the Redskins will unveil a seventh offensive line combination through 12 games this year.

On a roll

Zorn can relate to what New Orleans is experiencing this year. As Seattle’s quarterbacks coach in 2005, the Seahawks won 11 straight games, finished 13-3 and reached the Super Bowl. The Saints enter with an 11-0 record.

Zorn said a coaching staff’s routine isn’t altered from week to week because the formula is working.

“What’s nice about it is once it starts going like that, you can repeat all the things,” he said. “There’s not a lot of motivating. You don’t have to talk about what’s at stake. You don’t have to talk about, ‘Hey, we really need this game.’ They’re preparing for the next team in a similar fashion that they have for the first 11.”

Juggling act

New Orleans coach Sean Payton has called the offensive plays since he was hired before the 2006 season. The Saints led the NFL in yards that year and in 2008, but Payton said handling both jobs remains a chore.

Zorn tried to do both before he was stripped of the responsibilities after the fifth game this year.

“You’re always paying attention to your schedule,” Payton said. “I don’t know if you ever get comfortable with your schedule, and you’re always looking to improve it. There are times I lean heavily on the offensive staff - they’re in a meeting while I’m talking [to the media]. They’ll bring me up to speed, and we’ll go forward. I enjoy that aspect of the job and the challenge that goes with it.”

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