Nickel Package: 5 Current Redskins Topics

John Keim reports on and analyzes five huge topics: Injuries, Taylor, Moss, The D and Roster Moves.

1. Injuries.

Redskins center Casey Rabach (groin) and right tackle Todd Wade (groin) both have a chance of playing this week. Wade said Tuesday that he would play, but probably not practice. Rabach is hopeful, but would not match Wade's optimism. We'll call Rabach cautiously optimistic. That would be good news for a team in need of some. The Redskins can't afford to play this game with backups at what could be three positions. Linebacker Marcus Washington (hamstring) is less certain about his return, saying Tuesday that he wanted to take things slow. He had no idea about Sunday just yet. Stephon Heyer is not certain about Sunday, either, because of his hamstring. Heyer, though, is simply not ready to play a lot in the NFL. We'll give him a break because it was his first action since the opener, it's a new position and he was facing a good end, but Heyer looked off-balance and had sloppy footwork. Better he is able to sit, learn and show what he can do next summer.

2. Sean Taylor.

It's hard to imagine a safety playing better than Taylor right now. Here's what I found amazing; Taylor seemed to bait Brett Favre on a couple throws, where the receiver released to the outside and looked open. Favre did not make his best passes on the play, but give credit to Taylor. Few safeties could have made those plays. Teammates say Taylor is more involved in meetings, has a better grasp on what offenses are doing and communicating a lot more than in the past. It's paying off. He's been the best player on the team.

3. Santana Moss.

The biggest question surrounding Moss is this: what's wrong? It's a hard one to answer. Moss has dropped more balls than in the past and is not having anywhere near the year expected of him. It could be that he's rustier than we thought having missed time in the spring and some time this summer. But that seems too easy of an answer. It is clear that he and Jason Campbell have not been in sync since camp opened. Campbell always seemed to have more of a rapport with Antwaan Randle El and Chris Cooley. We do know Moss cramped up and tweaked his hamstring late in the game Sunday. And we do know that Moss is a heckuva competitor and hard worker. It won't bring him down; Moss is too tough-minded.

4. Redskins Defense.

I don't know if it will rank as high as the 2004 unit, but this group is better. They're better at safety with the maturing Sean Taylor and LaRon Landry and they're better at linebacker with London Fletcher and Rocky McIntosh over Antonio Pierce and Lemar Marshall (subbing for LaVar Arrington). The '04 group saw a lot of bad offenses that year and played perhaps three or four games against decent QBs. This group will see more than that and have already slowed two potent passing attacks.

5. Roster moves.

The Redskins signed two offensive linemen, Calvin Armstrong and Kevin Sampson, to the practice squad. This at least gives them enough linemen to practice with; they need guys who can serve as defensive linemen when working as a unit. To make room, they cut Kili Lefotu, who was arrested this past weekend and charged with being drunk in public, destruction of property and simple assault, and tight end Brian Bell. Lefotu just blew a golden opportunity.

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