- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 8, 2016

The yellow non-contact jersey rested on a hanger in the corner of Matt Jones’ locker, which is where it’s been since he shed it after practice on Monday earlier this week.

For the second consecutive day, Jones wore his regular white jersey and on Thursday was a full participant at practice at Redskins Park. 

Jones separated his left shoulder in the Redskins’ second preseason game against the New York Jets and was held out the remainder of the preseason. The fact that he was able to fully participate on Thursday is a good sign for a Redskins team that enters the season without any major injuries. 

Nobody was held out of Thursday’s practice ahead of Monday night’s season-opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Wide receiver Josh Doctson, who has a left Achilles’ strain and sat out the preseason, was a limited participant and was running routes against defensive backs in individual drills, something he didn’t do in the open portion of practice on Wednesday. Defensive end Kendall Reyes, who was out the last two days with a groin injury, also returned on Thursday and was limited.

Last season, the Redskins dealt with a rash of injuries and absences entering Week 1 of the regular season. Tight ends Niles Paul and former Redskins players Adam Hayward and Logan Paulsen all sustained season-ending injuries in the preseason. The Redskins also lost outside linebacker Junior Galette, who tore his left Achilles tendon. Galette sustained a tear in his right Achilles tendon this summer, though it happened days before the Redskins began training camp. Cornerback Bashaud Breeland was suspended in Week 1 for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. 

“I feel great about it,” coach Jay Gruden said about the health of the team. “I think last year we were a bit more banged up, but we had a lot more active participants at practice and they’ve worked hard.”

Running back Chris Thompson said he was impressed with the way Jones has handled the challenge of returning from his separated shoulder. When the injury first occurred, it was uncertain if it would impact the Redskins’ lead running back’s availability for Week 1. If Jones week continues the way it started, it’s expected he’ll be available against the Steelers.

“I think it’s going to be good for us to be able to start the season with everybody relatively healthy,” Thompson said. “[Jones] has been working his butt off to come back, doing everything he needs to do to be ready. We’re going to need him Monday night and he knows that. He’s just been trying to prepare himself physically as well as mentally because it’s a new injury for him.” 

Bell sits, DeAngelo Williams plays 

When the Redskins face the Steelers on Monday, they won’t have to face running back Le’Veon Bell, who is suspended the first three games of the season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. 

Bell’s season was cut short in 2015 when he tore his MCL in Week 8, but before that he had rushed for 556 yards and three touchdowns in six games. The year before that, Bell rushed for 1,361 yards and eight touchdowns in his All-Pro season. 

Though the Steelers will be without one of their main contributors on offense, the Redskins are still expecting a tough test from veteran running back DeAngelo Williams. 

Williams, 33, rushed for 907 yards and 11 touchdowns in Bell’s absence last season.

“I’m going to tell you guys every week, this is the National Football League, and when you do have a player — whether he gets hurt, whether he has a suspension, whatever — there’s able backups with every team and [DeAngelo Williams] is much more than a backup,” defensive coordinator Joe Barry said. “He’s a legitimate starter. He’s gained a bunch of yards in this league, so we’ve obviously got issues in the passing game with [wide receiver Antonio Brown]. We’ve got issues with [Williams] also, because he is a very able runner.”


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