Today’s news conference with Eric Mangini provided a lot of news, big and small.
On the injury front, Mangini played it down the middle, as you’d expect, about the prognoses for TEs Chris Baker and Bubba Franks, both with hip injuries, and ILB David Harris, with a groin injury.
"That whole group of guys, we’re going to see where they are through the course of the week," the head coach said this morning. "Baker, that was really a scratch no one anticipated, us or him. That to me is a really good example of injury situations. You think a guy is all set to do everything he can, you go through the whole process, and he can’t go. On the flip side, guys who all week look like they have no chance of playing, they go in on Sunday."
But as for the tight ends, Mangini was upbeat about the contribution from rookie Dustin Keller vs. the Chiefs when suddenly he and Robert Turner were the first two available TEs on the depth chart.
"Dustin played a lot more reps last week, and I’m not afraid to play him more than he has to this point," the coach said. "He’s made good progress and he’s taking more of a role there as a true tight end than maybe he had in the past when we had Bubba and Chris, three guys to choose from."
As for Turner, Mangini said, "he’s our secret weapon. Word’s out on him now, so I don’t know if we’ll be able to throw deep to him."
That was in jest, but Mangini was asked seriously about James Dearth, the long-snapper who is a tight end by scrimmage trade. Was he available for KC. Will he be available if needed, say, at Buffalo?
"James has played tight end, yeah. He can do some things, he has done some things in the past," he said. But he added, "That snapper position, that’s one of those things that you really don’t miss it till it’s gone. Then you really, really miss it. You’ve got to weigh the cost/risk."
The coach addressed an important point when he was asked the same question Laveranues Coles was asked last week, about injuries in general but about concussions specifically: What happens when the team tells a player he’s cleared medically to play but the player doesn’t feel right.
"We’re not going to force someone who feels he’s at risk of injury to play. It’s never that type of process where it’s one-sided, we say this, you say that, your feedback’s not important," Mangini said. "It’s much more of a cooperative process. One thing I like about our approach and our guys is that they are a part of the process. They give good feedback and we take that feedback and make sure we’re making good decisions."
Active Roster: Additions, Subtractions
Following up on the announcement Tuesday that Erik Ainge and Jesse Chatman were placed on IR, Mangini announced two additions to the 53-man roster: S James Ihedigbo has been signed from the practice squad, and RB Marcus Mason has been signed from the Baltimore practice squad.
Mason (5’9", 215) is an interesting addition. A first-year back in Washington’s training camp the past two summers, the former Youngstown State back ran wild for the Redskins in the 2008 preseason. In five games, he rushed for an NFL-leading 317 yards on 66 carries and also led the league with 373 yards from scrimmage. Against the Jets he had nine carries for 55 yards.
"He’s a guy we liked right at the end of training camp," Mangini said. "We didn’t put in a claim, knowing Jesse would be back in four games, but we liked a lot of the things he did in the preseason. This is an opportunity to bring him here, get to know him, put him in our system and see what he can do on teams and at running back."
Ihedigbo, of course, is the free agent from UMass who’s been with the Jets for two seasons. He had a preseason interception to thwart a Redskins red zone opportunity in August.
Another news development is that LB James Trusnik, who saw action as a rookie free agent last season but has been on the Physically Unable to Perform list since the start of training camp, begins to practice today and thus starts the 21-day window during which the Jets have to decide whether to activate him or IR him.
And LB Brandon Renkart returns to the practice squad.
Players of the Game
Mangini announced the team’s award winners out of the Kansas City game: Offense — WR Laveranues Coles; Defense — Kerry Rhodes; Special Teams — Leon Washington and Chatman; Practice Player — Robert Turner.
Update: For those keeping score at home, Ihedigbo will wear the same No. 44 that he sported in the preseason. Mason will wear No. 26.
Tags: Bubba Franks, Chris Baker, David Harris, Dustin Keller, Eric Mangini, James Ihedigbo, Laveranues Coles, Marcus Mason, Robert Turner
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