Are the Redskins Ready?

The real games start Sunday. Which means those nagging injuries no longer keep guys on the sidelines.

So Chris Samuels was back at left tackle and Randy Thomas returned to right guard. And both are expected to play in Sunday's season opener against Tampa Bay.

''They've worked too hard not to play,'' Redskins assistant head coach of offense Joe Bugel said.

But linebacker Mike Barrow, though he worked in pads, is ''not ready'' according to trainer Bubba Tyer. It's too early in the week to determine his status, but the Redskins did not give an optimistic report on him.

Safety Sean Taylor did not practice because he was sick. But Taylor said he'll be fine and his thigh bruise is not an issue. Meanwhile, safety Andre Lott has tendinitis behind his knee and didn't practice, but should return Wednesday. And linebacker Clifton Smith did not practice because of an elbow injury.

. . . Coach Joe Gibbs said rookie Chris Cooley will start at h-back against the Bucs. Cooley, the Redskins' third-round choice this past spring, was impressive this summer -- especially getting yards after the catch.

''He's very bright,'' Gibbs said. ''Those guys do well for us at the h-back. He's always in the right place at the right time and he's proven he's a good runner after he catches the ball. He fits in at two or three places for us. He could play tight end or h. Those kind of guys are valuable for us.''

. . . The eight man practice squad: DT Ryan Boschetti, CB Rufus Brown, DL Nic Clemons, OL Pita Elisara, RB Sultan McCullough, OL Ben Nowland, WR Gari Scott, DB Garnell Wilds.

. . . Gibbs on having to release McCullough on Sunday: ''He's a guy I spent some time with Sunday. We talked for quite a while and he was disappointed, which I understand. It's toughest for someone who made every play and worked himself silly. He did. He didn't miss a lick and that's to his credit. I was hoping someone would pick him up yesterday. That would have been good for him, but if not I told him, 'I really like you, you're a play away from up here stepping in and playing.' The good thing about the practice squad is that you can keep young guys here, they can be in meetings. Some of them will be active and get their chance.''

. . . Gibbs said he would consider re-signing end Regan Upshaw, if he's still available in a couple weeks -- and if the Redskins new reserve ends (Ron Warner and Demetric Evans) are struggling.

''We think Regan is our kind of guy,'' Gibbs said. ''We'll see what happens.''

. . . Don't be surprised if the Redskins still make a roster move or two. Gibbs said he hopes to have the roster settled by Wednesday, which means some of those bubble guys still can't sleep easy.


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