Zac Boyer will be entering his third season covering the Washington Redskins for The Free Lance-Star this fall. Make sure to follow Zac on Twitter (@ZacBoyer) for the latest updates or e-mail him with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
News & Notes: Jammal Brown Uncertain For Season, Roy Helu Hurt
ASHBURN – Head coach Mike Shanahan said on Monday that he does not know if Jammal Brown will play at all for the Washington Redskins this season.
Brown, the team’s projected starter at right tackle, missed four games last season with discomfort in his hips and has battled soreness for the past three seasons. He thought he put the issue behind him in the offseason, believing additional flexibility gained through yoga and correcting a perceived problem in his stride would improve things.
The night before training camp began, though, Brown was running and the aggravation returned. He has not attended any of the Redskins’ practices or morning walkthroughs since, and an MRI taken by his personal doctor in New York revealed no structural damage.
He has been at Redskins Park trying to address the issue with anti-inflammatories and is not close to returning to practice, Shanahan said.
“You’ve got to be pretty lucky to know if a guy’s going to come back when he’s quite sore or has had hip surgery and he’s been through the things he’s been through,” Shanahan said. “But we’re going to be patient and see how quickly he can get well, and if he can, we’re going to give him a shot. Hopefully he can, but I really don’t know.”
Brown, 31, signed a five-year, $27.5 million contract, which included $8.25 million guaranteed, last July when the lockout ended. According to reports, Brown will count $4.553 million against the salary cap this season, but only $1.1 million if he was released before the season began. It’s not that attractive an option; the Redskins would be on the hook for nearly all of that dead money next season.
Tyler Polumbus, who signed with the Redskins late last season and started three games for Brown, has been the top right tackle since training camp began. He started for Brown in the preseason opener Thursday at Buffalo.
“When guys go down and they have a serious injury, you’re not really sure if they can come back,” Shanahan said. “You’re hoping that they go through rehab and they can come back sooner, rather than later, but you really don’t know for sure.”
* Running back Roy Helu missed practice with Achilles tendinitis – yet another strike against a player whose health is becoming an increasing concern for the Redskins.
Helu, who took over as the primary running back midway through last season following an injury to Tim Hightower, missed the final two games of the rookie year with an assortment of hamstring, groin, knee and toe injuries. He led the Redskins with 640 yards and had two touchdowns on 151 carries.
Evan Royster, also entering his second season, has worked as the Redskins’ top running back as Hightower continues to recover from a torn ACL in his left knee.
“He’s had a couple strains in the groin, hamstring area, and tendonitis right there, so sometimes, [running backs] pull a hamstring or a groin and they’ve got to make sure they do what’s necessary to make sure they don’t pull anything,” Shanahan said.
* Both Graham Gano and Neil Rackers entered Monday an even 16-for-19 in organized field goal kicking drills. But Gano, the incumbent, struggled at practice, making only five of his nine attempts. Rackers made all of them.
The two kicked field goals from distances of 20, 29, 32, 37, 41, 49, 51, 53 and 57 yards. Gano missed his 32-, 49- and 57-yarders left, while his 53-yarder went short.
Both have made additional field goal attempts at the close of situational team drills. For his part, Gano responded by making a 43-yard attempt on a simulated fourth down minutes later, and he finished his day by sending a 58-yarder clear over the crossbar as the Redskins simulated a game-ending drive.
* Brandon Banks was targeted a team-high nine times by Rex Grossman and Kirk Cousins against Buffalo on Thursday, but he only caught two of those passes for seven yards. He struggled with his footing at times, including on the first pass he was thrown, when he slipped on the turf on a 10-yard crossing route.
“It’s very frustrating, because I feel like in order to make this team, I’ve got to make plays,” Banks said. “That’s what I do by making plays – going by defenders and basically getting the ball on my hands. I didn’t get the ball as much as I [hoped, given] the opportunities that I had.”
Head coach Shanahan has said Banks, the Redskins’ primary kickoff and punt returner last year, will need to make the team as a receiver this year and not just as a specialist. But the Redskins had between seven and nine receivers on the 53-man roster last season; the sixth receiver was rarely used but on special teams, and the seventh receiver was almost always inactive.
* Linebacker London Fletcher went through positional drills to begin practice, but was kept out of team drills simply to give him a day off. Players receiving a day off will typically sit out the entire afternoon, but Fletcher was involved early because the Redskins were installing certain defensive schemes.
* Nose tackle Chris Neild sustained a left knee injury at the start of team drills and was scheduled for an MRI late Monday. Neild, battling with Chris Baker and undrafted rookie Delvin Johnson to back up Barry Cofield, said he did not know the extent of the injury when practice ended, though he was able to walk from the practice fields to the facility on his own.
* Newly signed offensive tackle Chris Campbell said his athleticism is his greatest attribute, and he showed that after practice. Prohibited from practicing with the Redskins until Wednesday, Campbell twice sprinted across the field as his teammates huddled up to end the practice session.