Zorn and his assistants huddled to assess their personnel following a sour end to the preseason and ahead of Saturday's roster cuts that will establish the 53-man roster. The Redskins were outscored 71-6 in their final two exhibition games -- including Thursday night's 24-3 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars -- and now must regroup before Thursday's regular-season opener against the New York Giants.
"I feel like we're in the beginning stages of being able to put our best foot forward," Zorn said, "with our absolute best group that we can put out on the field."
The first problem is Kelly, the former Oklahoma receiver who to date is the most disappointing member of a 2008 draft class that is looking less and less stellar by the week. Kelly dropped to the second round because of questions about his knees and his excuse-making over a poor time in the 40-yard dash during a workout.
When he arrived for training camp, Kelly was one of three players to fail the conditioning test. He hurt his right hamstring during the first week of practice, then complained of soreness in both knees, then had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. He was supposed to make his preseason debut Thursday, but the knee swelled during pregame warmups.
"We have to deal with the reality of his knee not responding well right now," Zorn said.
Zorn said Kelly could be placed on injured reserve, ruling him out for the season. The coach said Kelly also could be placed on the physically unable to perform list -- which would prohibit him from playing in the first six games -- or could be a hobbling member of the active roster.
"I don't know if we can afford as a team to keep him active unless he can predict that he can come through," Zorn said. "I think he's going to have to play with some soreness."
An even bigger surprise from Zorn was the news about 10-year veteran Jansen, the longest continuous serving player on the team. Jansen has had injury problems in recent years -- he missed nearly all of last season with a broken leg and dislocated ankle -- and now has a sprained left foot. There have been times during preseason when he hasn't looked like his old self.
Second-year player Stephon Heyer started in Jansen's spot Thursday night and received good reviews from Zorn.
"He shored things up for us over there," Zorn said. "That's going to be a battle. I think that's a very close battle."
Zorn said Jansen will have to prove his health in practice to have a chance to start against the Giants.
"I'm not giving up on Jon Jansen," Zorn said. "He's been a great part of this offense. But we're just evaluating, and I thought Stephon came in and did a pretty job."
Kelly was one of three second-round draft picks this year -- the Redskins traded out of the first round -- and none of the three will make a near-term impact. Receiver Devin Thomas, who also failed the conditioning test and missed part of training camp with a hamstring injury, doesn't look at all comfortable on the field and "needs to continue to mature mentally in the passing game," according to Zorn.
Further down, offensive lineman Chad Rinehart (third round) and safeties Kareem Moore (sixth) and Chris Horton (seventh) comprise the early cream of the draft crop. The jury is still very much out on cornerback Justin Tryon (fourth), quarterback Colt Brennan (sixth) and defensive end Rob Jackson (seventh). Punter Durant Brooks (sixth) will learn Saturday whether he has won the job over incumbent Derrick Frost in a very tight competition.
"That's the history of this offense, basically, is the passing game has been behind the run game, the defense, the special teams," Zorn said. "And then as it comes on, then you start hitting on all cylinders."
Notes: Zorn had no update as to whether DE Jason Taylor (sprained knee) will be able to play against the Giants. "If he doesn't progress well and doesn't practice this week, I probably will hold him out," the coach said. ... Zorn sounded a little more optimistic about S LaRon Landry, who missed all of preseason with a hamstring injury. "He's now practicing, and we need him in there," Zorn said.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press