Tackle Jon Jansen already had his hands full heading into Sunday’s showdown against the Chicago Bears. He was set to face Chicago’s dangerous defensive end Adewale Ogunleye, who the Bears acquired from the Miami Dolphins in 2004. During a practice early last week, Jansen broke his left thumb and was forced to wear a large cast that covered his whole hand and extended past his wrist.
Jansen played solidly while matched up against Ogunleye but suffered another setback during the game. While attempting to pick up a blitzing linebacker, Jansen broke his other thumb. Now Jansen will have the daunting challenge of trying to protect the blindside of new starting quarterback Mark Brunell from the Dallas Cowboys’ new 3-4 defense while wearing casts on both hands on Monday night.
One and Done
With all the hype surrounding kick returner Antonio Brown during the offseason, expectations were high for the former Buffalo Bills speedster. Brown was a late season acquisition in 2004 and came on strong with a 39-yard punt return at Dallas and a 66-yard kickoff return in the season finale against the Minnesota Vikings. The Redskins were attempting to gauge Brown’s value as a wide receiver, but after dropping four passes against the Baltimore Ravens in the final week of the preseason, Brown’s roster status came into question.
Further diminishing the diminutive receiver’s value to the team, Brown fumbled the opening kickoff of the second half in the season opener against the Chicago Bears. The fumble was recovered by Chicago at the Redskins’ 23-yard line and led to their only points of the game. Brown’s performance did not meet the expectations of special teams coach Danny Smith, which led to his release just two days after the Redskins two-point victory.
Brown was easily expendable given the plethora of talent the team possesses in the return game. Running back Ladell Betts and wide receiver James Thrash will team together to return the kicks this Monday in Dallas, and Thrash will take the punt return duties. Wide receiver Santana Moss is also a viable option returning punts, having averaged 12 yards per punt return with 2 touchdowns during his 4 years with the New York Jets.
Hall Out, Novak In
With John Hall suffering from a quadriceps injury, the Redskins signed former University of Maryland kicker Nick Novak to fill in against the Dallas Cowboys. Novak was originally signed by the Chicago Bears as an undrafted free agent this spring. He lost out to veteran Doug Brien in a battle to become Chicago’s kicker.
Shortly after his release, Novak signed with the Dallas Cowboys but was beaten out by former Redskin Jose Cortez and was released after their preseason finale. Novak finished his career with the Maryland Terrapins as the all-time leading scorer in Atlantic Coast Conference history.
Hall scored all of Washington’s 9 points in the season opener against Chicago. In 2004, the 9-year veteran missed 8 games due to hamstring injuries and spent the final three games on injured reserve.