Tuesday Knickel: Five Current Skins Events

John Keim looks at five current topics concerning the Redskins.

1. Clinton Portis' knee.

Another day, another clarification by Joe Gibbs. This time, it's surrounding Portis' right knee and why he missed practice Monday. Portis has a grade one sprain, plus a bruise, in his right knee. It's not the tendinitis this time. And Portis' knee injury -- which is not expected to sideline him Sunday -- was not the reason he did not play in the final minute or so of the Giants' game. Portis made that clear and director of sports medicine Bubba Tyer echoed that, saying there was never any discussion on the sideline about needing to keep him out.

2. Keenan McCardell.

How much does he have left? Houston clearly did not think he had enough left to help its passing game. However, he might be a better fit for Washington. Unlike Brandon Lloyd, the QBs would be able to trust McCardell to get where he's supposed to be and when he's supposed to be there. That alone is improvement. But right now, the Redskins still lack a legitimate No. 2 receiver. They're still in trouble if something happens to Santana Moss. The guy I wonder more about is Reche Caldwell, coming off his best season. He has more speed and that's what the Redskins need.

3. Bye week.

Whether or not the Redskins deserved a week off, it should be evident that they needed one. Washington had too many key players banged up and a week away from the facility should have helped. Aside from Moss, the Redskins expect everyone else to be available for Detroit. And they'll know more about Moss later in the week (he did some running in a pool at the facility today). With 13 straight weeks of games, the Redskins did well by getting away. They were in a relaxed mood Monday. Joe Gibbs has done well by them, in terms of getting them away from the facility since last season. Some players said they felt burned out last December. If that doesn't happen this year, you'll know why. Of course, winning helps prevent that feeling as well.

4. Chris Cooley.

The Redskins have definitely kept the tight end in to block much more than desired, but that could change soon. A few reasons have dictated reasons for this strategy: first, they've played two blitzing teams, necessitating extra blockers. Second, they have a right side of the line that is not as good as the tandem they're replacing. To compensate, the Redskins have allowed Jason Fabini and Todd Wade to focus on helping one another out. But that has meant a tight end or back needs to help there as well. But as the line gains more time together, and they face teams that don't blitz as much, Cooley will again become a bigger part of the passing attack. Don't forget, at this time last year Cooley had only seven receptions. He finished with 57.

5. Norv Turner.

OK, he's no longer Redskins property, but is anyone surprised by what's happening in San Diego. From what we understand, players there are complaining about the softer practices he runs compared to Marty Schottenheimer. And in games the players say they're not physical enough. It's funny because Turner's practices in Washington were more physical than those run by Gibbs. Doesn't make them better practices, but he did believe in more hitting. But no one compared to Marty. No one.


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