Another curious day at Redskins camp: Blache goes silent

ASHBURN, Va. -- It seems as if one day can't go by without something curious happening in Washington Redskins land.

A bizarre week took another strange turn Thursday when defensive coordinator Greg Blache began a media boycott of sorts -- just in time, it turned out, to avoid having to answer questions about his relationship with new offensive consultant Sherman Lewis.

Blache, who has dished out some of the team's most colorful quotes, arrived for his weekly lunchtime session with reporters. He met them outside in the sunshine instead of inside by the locker room because, he said, the lighting was better and he was hoping for "a little better coloring" for the television and Internet cameras.

Blache spoke for one minute, 20 seconds, offering some general thoughts about the defense, such as "teams with character are going to fight back." He finished by saying: "I'd like to thank you, and, ah, that's it. Thank you."

Blache walked off without taking any questions. A few seconds later, secondary coach Jerry Gray took Blache's place and answered questions about the defense. Asked if he will be doing this from now on, Gray laughed and said: "Ah, who knows? We'll see."

After practice, Redskins coach Jim Zorn did little to clarify the mystery.

"For Greg, he's really needed a break," Zorn said. "And so from his standpoint, we've talked about it. I actually have talked to the league about a break for him, and they've agreed, so I would put it as personal reasons. ... It's something that is important and he's doing it for the right reasons, but it is a needed break for him so that's why I've allowed it."

Zorn offered few other details, other than to say that Blache will continue to perform all of his other coaching duties. The Redskins had to seek permission for Blache's silence because NFL rules mandate that coordinators be made regularly available to reporters.

Blache, it appears, will continue to make a statement once per week before yielding to Gray for questions. Gray also will perform Blache's contractual obligations for television, including a live weekly postgame interview.

The sudden silence makes good fodder for conspiracy theorists because of its timing. It came one day after it was revealed that a meeting between old friends Blache and Lewis two weeks ago likely helped to get the ball rolling for the hiring of Lewis as a consultant this week.

The Redskins' front office has gone to great lengths to state that Lewis has been hired only as a "fresh set of eyes" to observe and help where he can -- and not as a possible replacement as head coach or play-caller if the team continues to struggle.

Asked if Blache's media shutdown had any connection to Lewis' hiring, Zorn said: "No. Zero. It really is a legitimate reason. It's not even made up, and it's not mysterious. It's really a legit reason."

If nothing else, the football world will miss hearing Blache's gems every week. Among his highlights, he once said his defense played "like the south end of a northbound skunk" and that he "would rather fall in love with a stripper than a rookie -- because they will break your heart."

Blache went out with a blaze of glory last week, announcing that he would be more of a "riverboat gambler" with his game plans. He stepped forward to take public responsibility for the defense's performance in the loss to the Lions, saying he's the one who should be thrown "under the bus."

But for all his down-to-earth expressions, Blache claims to have never enjoyed dealing with the media. He refused to speak to reporters for more than two years during Joe Gibbs' tenure as Washington's coach, but he began talking again when he was put in charge of the defense last year.

"I'd take two prostate exams to one press conference," Blache said last year. "This is like a dental appointment."

Notes:Redskins LT Chris Samuels (knee) and DT Cornelius Griffin (elbow) were limited in practice Thursday. P Hunter Smith (groin) and DT Anthony Montgomery (knee) remain sidelined. ... WR Malcolm Kelly revealed that he has been playing with ligament damage in his right thumb, requiring an injection before games to keep the pain down. "It's not like I can't go out there and practice or play," Kelly said. "They just try to tape it up as good as they can, and then come game time, get that little candy shot in there. Hopefully it helps out a little bit."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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