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Ex-Terp Gets His Moment in the Sun

Heyer Practices With the First Team

By Jason La Canfora

Washington Post Staff Writer

Wednesday, August 1, 2007; E01

The Washington Redskins' first-string left tackle, at least for one day, came off the field lugging the shoulder pads of teammates Randy Thomas and Jon Jansen. It's a chore normally reserved for those at the bottom of the depth chart, and that's precisely where tackle Stephon Heyer found himself hours before yesterday's practice.

But by 4 p.m. Heyer, an undrafted rookie out of Maryland, was handed the critical chore of blocking quarterback Jason Campbell's blind side with Pro Bowler Chris Samuels out a month with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee, a decision that shocked everyone -- including Heyer. Coach Joe Gibbs cautioned, however, that he expects players to rotate in and out of Samuels's role, and other team sources said privately that they would be floored if Heyer actually manned such a vital position in a preseason game.

Less than a week into training camp, the Redskins already find themselves juggling personnel because of injuries. Tailback Clinton Portis missed practice yesterday after his knee tendinitis returned ("It got agitated, it got a little swelling," said Gibbs, who believes it is a minor setback), while Thomas (knee), the right guard, participated in the early stages of practice in full pads but is not cleared for full drills.

With Samuels and Thomas watching, Heyer received heavy work at tackle, while retreads Jason Fabini and Will Whitticker filled in at right guard. Todd Wade, a natural tackle who was the early favorite to replace departed starter Derrick Dockery at left guard, shuffled between the first and second team yesterday, but coaches resisted the temptation to move Wade back to the edge in an effort to get him as many reps as possible at his new position.

"We've got a number of combinations we're going to try, and we'll kind of see how it goes," Gibbs said. "We gave a lot of work to a lot of different guys on the left side and it's a challenge for us. But we really got good news [Monday] night, and hopefully Chris will be back before four weeks."

Samuels, who suffered a grade 2 sprain of the MCL during Monday afternoon's practice, will not need surgery, team sources said, and will rest and do rehabilitation instead. Team physician Ray Thall examined Samuels, who underwent an MRI exam Monday. The team's best estimate of recovery time is four weeks, but there is no exact timetable and it seems likely he could miss all four preseason games.

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I'm hating all of the injuries in TC so far...but it does allow for evaluation and a chance for someone to step up.
Yeah they're killer, but as long as it doesn't effect the regular season, it's alright. Plus it does give the others a chance to shine!
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It's been one day. Gimme a break. Lived up to what? If he can hold his own against Terrell Suggs in the scrimmage this weekend, and against top tackles in pre-season, I'll definitely salivate.

Otherwise, BFD.

I did say it was early, but there are guys who seem to have some promise.


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