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News & Notes: Turns Out Blades Could Play vs. Falcons


Turns out that H.B. Blades may be able to play against Atlanta after all.

Just 10 days after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, Blades is listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons. Blades had suffered a meniscus injury in the Week 7 game against Philadelphia.

"He has a chance to play but is questionable is H.B. Blades, which is amazing to me, but he has a chance," Jim Zorn said after practice. "That'll be a game time situation. He is feeling better."

Blades took part in practice on a limited basis on Friday.

Blades is a backup inside and outside linebacker, but he serves primarily on special teams.

He leads the special teams unit in tackles with 16 though seven games.

It was initially thought that Blades would miss the Falcons game, but he progressed quickly after surgery.

"He is moving around very well," Zorn said. "The thing we're looking out for is swelling or anything that could set him back. But right now he has a smile on his face."

Chris Horton participated in practice on a limited basis on Friday, one day after spraining his knee.

Horton is listed as questionable for the game.

"He did a lot [on Friday] and I think a couple days of rest will get him going," Zorn said. "I look to have him be a part of it and play, but he's still questionable. It depends on how he improves."

Horton is listed as the backup strong safety to Reed Doughty, but he started the Week 7 game at Philadelphia.

As expected, Chris Cooley (fractured ankle), Hunter Smith (groin) and Byron Westbrook (knee) are going to be deactivated for the game, Zorn added.


Through Week 8, the Redskins are ranked last in the NFL in forcing turnovers. The unit has just three interceptions--all by DeAngelo Hall--and four fumble recoveries.

That stat has to change for the Redskins to beat the Atlanta Falcons this Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was intercepted three times last Monday night by the New Orleans Saints, a key factor in the Saints' 35-27 win over the Falcons.

Ryan, the second-year quarterback and former first-round draft pick, has seven interceptions in his last three outings.

In practice this week, coaches have put an emphasis on forcing turnovers this Sunday.

"The thing New Orleans did was they got turnovers," secondary-cornerbacks coach Jerry Gray said. "We saw how they schemed up a couple of the turnovers that [Saints cornerback] Jabari Greer got. You have to take from that, see if it fits your defense, and you have to create pressure."

When the Redskins signed Albert Haynesworth last March, it was expected that he would help the defensive line produce more sacks and turnovers.

The sacks have come--the team has 18 in seven games--but the turnovers have not.

"If the defensive line keeps hitting quarterbacks, they will either keep getting hit or they will throw the ball sooner," Gray said. "The quarterback could try to get out of the line of fire and throw the ball, and then a [defensive back] steps up in front of the receiver and makes an interception.

"If the D-line keeps doing what they are doing, the turnovers are going to start coming because you are going to find a quarterback who doesn't want to get hit."


Sunday's game at Atlanta is the second for Sherman Lewis as the primary offensive play caller. Lewis was installed as the play-caller prior to the Redskins-Eagles game on Oct. 26, replacing Jim Zorn.

"He'll have more of a comfort level because he'll continue to learn what we're doing and the plan we have put together," Zorn said.

Sherman Smith will continue to call the run plays and Zorn will handle some of the two-minute offense.

"It's not that specific and it's not that cut and dry," Zorn said. "And I'll still interject once in a while if I can--if I can't keep my mouth shut."

Interjecting in the play calling, something that Zorn was initially reluctant to do, is "part of my comfort level," Zorn said.

Zorn was asked by reporters if executive vice president Vinny Cerrato, who recommended Lewis as play caller, was okay with Zorn interjecting in the play calling.

"I haven't asked him," Zorn replied.


Kicker Shaun Suisham has been a "bright spot" for the team, Jim Zorn said

Suisham has converted all nine of his field goal attempts this season.

A year ago, Suisham connected on 26-of-36 field goals, which was among the lowest field goal percentages in the league. He had to beat out Dave Rayner in a preseason competition to hold on to his job.

"He has developed the rhythm, the steadiness, and he is more patient," Jim Zorn said. "He is not attacking the ball so early. He had a lot of different rhythms last year. He is much smoother and I think that is what happens to a kicker. He has found his rhythm."

Suisham has also been solid on kickoffs, Zorn added.

"I look at the exactness at which he is kicking off," Jim Zorn said. "It's not just, 'Go up there and see how hard you can kick it.' It really has to do with placing the ball where we need to place it...Hang time, trajectory and where we are kicking the ball--it's super important"

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