Redskins once again short on bodies along offensive line


ASHBURN, Va. -- The one area where the Redskins could least afford to suffer injuries is along the offensive line, on the right side in particular. But by the time Tuesday morning's session ended, under a blazing sun and with unrelenting humidity, the 'Skins were in fact short on bodies there.

Stephon Heyer, who has struggled for consistency in his career, was penciled in as the starting right tackle, but he went down in a goal line drill with a knee injury and could get an MRI, according to the Redskins. Starting right guard, Randy Thomas, oft-injured in recent years, is battling a knee injury and missed practice and Mike Williams, fighting Heyer for the starting spot, tweaked his groin in practice as well (Williams has been injury prone and shed 100 pounds to try to get back in the league after a long absence). Some coaches on staff believe that eventually it might make sense to give veteran guard Pete Kendall, a free agent who played here last season, another look-see depending on health and development issues of players here.

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Forming a cohesive line is imperative. A year ago, Zorn could not deploy much of his attack given serious protection issues -- seven-step drops, were, well, dropped from the play sheet come Sunday -- and if the Redskins are to be a true West Coast team in 2009, then it looks like some unknowns will have to step up, perhaps right away.

Surprise, surprise

Defensive end Renaldo Wynn, back in Washington after recent short stints in New Orleans and with the New York Giants, is noticeably slimmer than in his first time here. Wynn is trying to stay leaner and quicker, and is battling another player late in his career, Phillip Daniels, at left end. Daniels, a power lifter, has suffered a slew of injuries but is sporting massive arms and huge chest muscles.

Observation deck

» Star defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, who received $41-million guaranteed as a free agent this offseason, took part in some full-team drills and was in full pads Tuesday after sitting out Monday. Haynesworth received an injection in his knee Sunday -- something he has done during camp the past few years, he said -- and was moving gingerly during some agility drills, but both he and the team say it's not a concern. Haynesworth has only played a full 16 games once in his seven-year career, however, when he was a rookie.

» The first-team offense had a very slow start Tuesday. A lot of quarterback pressure, some interceptions and the speed of the defense just seemed like too much at times. The offense rebounded a bit late in the session, during goal-line drills.

» The battle between veteran Todd Collins and second-year quarterback Colt Brennan could get interesting. There are definitely some in management who are high on Brennan, who has a knack for making plays, but has some fundamental flaws. Their performances in the preseason games will be telling, particularly if Brennan gets more reps against starting defenses.

Evan Vucci / Associated Press
Rookie first-round pick Brian Orakpo takes on a tackling sled at Redskins training camp.

Rookie report

Brian Orakpo spent much of this offseason at strong-side linebacker, but the area where he might make an immediate impact is as a rush end. His speed has given Pro Bowl tackle Chris Samuels fits at times in camp, including in 11-on-11 drills on Tuesday. Some players and coaches wonder how well he will catch on to the coverage responsibilities at linebacker, but as a third-down rusher off the edge he might reap some immediate rewards for a franchise long desperate for sacks.

Lasting image

The class with which quarterback Jason Campbell handled himself through a tumultuous offseason has made him a fan favorite. Campbell has been an object of derision and heated debate throughout his development in Washington, but after enduring the pursuit of Jay Cutler and a flirtation with rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez in a team-first manner, Campbell's popularity is soaring.

The mass of people screaming his name across the playing fields after practice, chanting, "Jason! Jason!" and begging him for autographs is something I've never seen before, and I covered Campbell since the day he was drafted. Of course, if he struggles this season, that'll all change, but he's certainly got ample fan support now.

Say what?

"It was just a big pile and I heard a loud, 'Ooooo' and I knew something happened." -- Coach Jim Zorn on when he knew Heyer was injured during a goal-line drill.

Extra points

» The Redskins were running a lot of two tight-end formations, something Zorn hopes can become a bigger part of the offense. The team is trying to find more ways to get second-year tight end Fred Davis on the field with Pro Bowl tight end Chris Cooley.

» Starting corner Carlos Rogers missed another practice with a calf sprain, but he says it's not severe. I have reservations about veteran Fred Smoot's ability to perform at a high level now, even as a nickel guy. Rookie third-round pick Kevin Barnes could see plenty of time at the nickel spot.

» Felt like old times out here today. Thought I was going to sweat right through my polo shirt. Such is summer in Ashburn.



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