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Redskins Insider With new team, Beck

learns on the fly Just calling plays, lining up in

the correct formations and not turning over the ball in Friday’s preseason opener against Buffalo were important feats for John Beck, the newest member of the Washington Redskins. Beck had all of 10 days to learn enough of a foreign scheme to orchestrate the offense on Friday night. And he’s far from mastered

the offensive system, devised by coordinator Kyle Shanahan and CoachMike Shanahan. “It’s tough because I think

JONATHAN NEWTON/THE WASHINGTON POST Rookie Trent Williams impressed teammates in his debut against the Bills, this serious pancake block being one of the many reasonswhy. TRACEE HAMILTON Renovated and retooled, offensive line propels Redskins hamilton from D1

They also replaced the right side of the line, trading for tackle Jammal Brown and signing guard ArtisHicks as an unrestricted free agent. Only left guard Derrick Dockery and center Casey Rabach remain from last season’s starting line. And they didn’t stop there.

They also bolstered the pool of backups, signing Kory Lichtensteiger and Clint Oldenburg and drafting Selvish Capers and Erik Cook. With returning veterans Edwin Williams, Will Robinson, Chad Rinehart and StephonHeyer, the line is unquestionably deeper than a year ago, when injuries meant the weekly lineups were like snowflakes: No two were alike. “Now that we have some

depth we don’t have to worry about somebody getting hurt, we have somebody who can come in,” fullbackMike Sellers said.

And yet Sellers and the

linemen say that the more important change is not to the roster, but to the system. A new blocking scheme is the reason there were holes for running backs Clinton Portis (22 yards), Ryan Torain (62) and rookie

NFLNOTEBOOK Panthers’ Stewart finally removed from physically unable to perform list ASSOCIATED PRESS Carolina Panthers running

backJonathanStewartparticipat- ed only in position drills and watchedmost of the teamportion of Saturdaymorning’sworkout. But for someone who almost

neverpracticesbecauseof chronic pain in his left Achilles’ tendon andheel, finallypassinghisphysi- cal and being taken off the physi- cally unable to performlist was a significant accomplishment for Stewart and Carolina’s struggling offense. “It’sarelief justbeingout there,

being around what I’m supposed to be doing,” Stewart said. “Mak- ing gradual steps toward being on the field is the plan. Today was good just to be around the guys and be able towalk through some plays andstuff like that.” Stewart’s plight has been

unique—and the source of plenty of ribbing from his coaches and teammates. While he’s never missedaregular-seasongameand racked up big numbers and re- cords in his first twoNFL seasons, foot problems have kept him out of every offseason workout for three years. Stewart missed April’s mini-

camp, June’s optional workouts and the first 19 practices of train- ing camp as he recovered from offseason surgery.He was cleared minutes before Saturday’s work- out. “He was carrying his helmet

and I got a little excited,” Coach JohnFox said. Added center Ryan Kalil: “It

was awesome. I tried to slow clap butnobody jumpedinwithme.” Stewart has taken the teasing

instride,buthis injuryhas caused him plenty of concern because Stewart hasn’t been pain-free since late inthe 2007 seasonwhen hehurthis rightbigtoe inhis final college seasonatOregon. l RAVENS: Baltimore offen- sive tackle Jared Gaither has a

small tear in his back that will sidelinehimforat least twoweeks. Gaither flew to California re-

cently to visit a back specialist to figure out why he’s been dealing with back spasms and cramps for themajority of training camp. “It’s a very small tear, I don’t

know the medical term for it,” Ravens Coach John Harbaugh said. “It’s not a serious thing, but it’s going to keep him out for a coupleweeks until it settles down because it’s what’s causing the spasms apparently.” WithGaither sidelined, theRa-

vens have been going with Oniel Cousins at right tackle and he’s expected to start there for the rest of thepreseason. Gaither acknowledged earlier

incamp thathe overdid it by dras- tically reducing his weight to 311 poundsafterplayinglast seasonat roughly 340pounds. The 6-foot-9 formerUniversity

ofMaryland lineman skipped the majority of Baltimore’s offseason program. Baltimorealsocutveteranlong

snapperMattKatula, roughly two years after signing him to a five- yearcontractextension.Releasing Katula created a roster spot for undraftedrookie freeagentdefen- sive back Brad Jones, who re- joined the team after being cut this spring. l COWBOYS: Rookie wide re-

ceiver Dez Bryant is on track to play the final two preseason games, said team owner Jerry Jones before the team’s firstwork- out inCalifornia. Bryant sprainedhis rightankle

during a July 30 practice. He was expectedtomiss four to sixweeks, which could’ve wiped out his chances of playing in the pre- season. But Jones said that Bryant’s

recovery is coming alongwell and that he is “hopeful we will have him back for those last two pre- season games.” That means the first-round pick could be inaction Aug. 28 at Houston or Sept. 2 at


QuarterbackMark Sanchez, above, and the Jets open the preseason against the Giants onMonday night at theNewMeadowlands Stadium. Hamilton, a second-year play-

home againstMiami. l GIANTS: Pro Bowlers Chris

Snee and Steve Smith and at least five other players will miss New York’s preseason opener against the Jets. Giants Coach Tom Coughlin

said tight end Kevin Boss, line- backer Keith Bulluck, safeties Kenny Phillips andMichael John- son and free agent wide receiver TimBrownalsowon’tplay. Guard Rich Seubert, who just

returned to practice this week af- terbreakinghis lefthand,has said

he won’t play either in the first NFL game at the New Meadow- lands Stadium. l JETS:Mark Sanchez and the

rest of the starters are going to get some extra time to shake off their offseasonrust. Coach Rex Ryan said that his

starters on offense and defense willplay a littlepast the first quar- ter inNew York’s preseason open- er against the Giants on Monday night at the New Meadowlands Stadium. l BILLS: Running back Fred

Jackson will have more tests to determine the severity of a hand injury thatwill force the starter to miss at least the remainder of the preseason. l PACKERS: Running back

Ryan Grant took a hit to the head and needed help fromtrainers af- ter being tackled in the first quar- terof thePackers’exhibitionopen- er against the Cleveland Browns. His returnwasunlikely. l SAINTS: Injured running

backLynellHamiltonhasbeencut byNewOrleans.

er, first signedwith the Saints as a free agent following the 2008NFL draft. Hamilton, 25, suffered a torn

ACL during a practice earlier this week. The Saints also re-signed line-

backer Harry Coleman. He was signed by the Saints as a rookie free agent in May and then was waived shortly before the start of training camp.

—Fromwire reports

Keiland Williams (51) on Friday night. It’s the reasonMcNabb and backup Rex Grossman had time to check more than one receiver and spent no time on their backsides. “We’ve got a whole new

blocking scheme that we put in this year under [offensive coordinator] Kyle Shanahan and [offensive line coach] Chris Foerster,” said Rabach, who admitted that what we saw of the playbook Friday night was “vanilla.” “We really like it. There were

some growing pains, obviously, with it but it’s really coming along. Obviously we’ve got a ways to go yet.We really do.” True. The Redskins were 4-12

last season; you don’t recover from that with one preseason win over a team that was 6-10 a year ago. There are still question marks after Friday’s game, no doubt, and Brown has yet to play. One that seems to have been answered, however: Trent Williams was absolutely the right draft choice.He looked like a rookie at times— he was flagged for an illegal- formation penalty in the second quarter – and admitted he was “gassed” after three plays, but his mistakes were few. “I thought he did a good job,”

CoachMike Shanahan said. “It is hard to say for sure until I look at the film.He had one penalty in there, that one dump that he had called back.We had him lining up too far in the backfield, but I am very pleased for the first game.” “That’s typical for a rookie,”

Sellers said of the errors, “but he’s playing like a vet and he doesn’t let anybody intimidate him and that’s what we appreciate the most.” In their first series of the

second quarter, with a 14-3 lead, the Redskins ran three times in 10 plays – all to Trent Williams’s side of the line. The gains were not spectacular – one and 15 yards by Torain, six yards by Williams – but Grossman was able to mix the running and passing game in a way that seldom came together a year ago. The result was a nine-yard touchdown to Fred Davis that gave the Redskins a 21-3 lead and their first comfortable margin in a long, long time. “To be a first game for a

rookie . . . I think he did a great job,”Hicks said. “We’re all still out there chasing that perfect game but I think that was a great start for him.He’s got so much potential, I think the sky’s the limit for this young kid.He’s

going to be the future for these left tackles for the next few years.” There is much work to be

done.Hicks pointed out that only Dockery and Rabach had played next to each other before Friday night’s game. “Just building the chemistry is probably the biggest thing we have to do and that’s going to come with repetitions and us playing together,” he said. Hicks isn’t worried about

overconfidence, either. It’s one win in the preseason, and while it feels good, it doesn’t count for much more than giving the players and fans a bit of a glow. For the players, that will last until they get back on the practice field, where they’ll find out all the things they did wrong. And that’s okay with Hicks. “If you’re very critical of

yourself, you’re harder on yourself after a win,” he said. “It’s easier to come in when everyone’s high-fiving you and patting you on the back and say, ‘I had the best game in the world.’ If you’re hard on yourself you’ll break yourself down even moreso after a win than a loss.”

that the playbook that I have been studying is also limited because they knewI was only going to be here for so many days before the first game and they just wanted me to have the base stuff down,” said Beck, who completed 2 of 7 passes for 27 yards in six series. “Some of these things these guys talk about in meetings are still foreign language to me. I’mstill trying to learn all those things.” Beck, acquired in a trade with

the Baltimore Ravens earlier this month, was the third and final quarterback to see action in the team’s 42-17 blowout win. With Rich Bartel inactive because of a hamstring injury, Beck entered the game with 6 minutes 22 seconds remaining in the third quarter and played the remainder of the contest. He got off to a shaky start, as

could be expected of a quarterback with only 10 days experience in a newoffense. Of the first five times he dropped back to pass, four ended in incomplete passes and the fifth with a JohnMcCargo sack. “It’s tough, I mean, some of

the time I was just having to take a sack so we don’t turn the ball over,” Beck said. “You don’t want to force a pass so sometimes taking a sack is the best thing, so I was just trying to be smart with the football.” Beck, aided by the effective

rushing tandem of Ryan Torain and Keiland Williams, was able to recover.He completed two of his final three passes for 27 yards and led a scoring drive. “I am grateful that I got out

there and play because anytime that you go to a newsituation where it’s a newteam, new offense, neweverything, it’s good to get game reps,” he said. “There was a lot of firsts out there: first time running some of the plays, first time with that group of guys, so it was good to be able to get game reps because that’s what really matters: game reps.” Beck said he was in constant



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communication with the other quarterbacks throughout the game, particularly Rex Grossman, who played in Kyle Shanahan’s offense last season in Houston. Now Beck has another week

to learn some more of the offense before the Redskins welcome Beck’s former club next Saturday. “I’ve already had a bunch of

guys come to me and say, ‘Give us some tips for these guys next week,’” said Beck, who spent the 2009 season in Baltimore.

Mixed results While rookie receiver

Brandon Banks provided the highlight of the night for the Redskins special teams unit, there were plenty of other areas to evaluate— including kick return and kick coverage and a stellar night from punter Josh Bidwell. While Banks impressed on

punt returns, racking up 97 yards on four returns including a 77-yard touchdown, starting kick returner Devin Thomas did not have as strong of a night. On the game’s opening

kickoff, Thomas misjudged the ball and fumbled when he had to reach up over his head to try to field the kick.

Running back plan CoachMike Shanahan and

running backs coach Bobby Turner have said since offseason workouts that the corps of running backsWashington has in camp will be evaluated on a practice-by-practice, play-by- play basis. Friday night’s victory over Buffalo provided a glimpse of how that plan will be put in place during preseason games. Incumbent starter Clinton

Portis opened the game with the first offensive unit and carried six times for 22 yards. Shanahan said afterward that the plan was for Portis to play between 15 and 20 plays, and then turn it over to second-year back Ryan Torain and rookie Keiland Williams. That pair combined for 113 yards on 28 carries, including two touchdowns from Williams. The result: veterans Larry

Johnson and Willie Parker, both signed as free agents, didn’t play against Buffalo. That was, Shanahan said, by design. Johnson will get the bulk of the carries in next Saturday’s game against Baltimore at FedEx Field, and Parker will get the most work on Aug. 26 at theNewYork Jets.

—Jorge Castillo, Paul Tenorio and Barry Svrluga

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