Free safety Sean Taylor has been downgraded to questionable for Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Taylor missed practice for the third consecutive day on Friday as he continues to recover from an ankle injury.
Head coach Joe Gibbs did not seem optimistic that Taylor would be available for Sunday.
"We held Sean out again," Gibbs said. "Unless he really starts feeling good, in all likelihood I wouldn't think he'd go this week."
If Taylor is unable to play, assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams could use any number of defensive packages to replace him. Matt Bowen is currently listed as second on the depth chart behind Taylor, but Pierson Prioleau could also see action.
Ryan Clark continues to see the bulk of playing time at strong safety.
Veteran safety Omar Stoutmire has been battling a hamstring injury that forced him to miss last Sunday's game against the Eagles. He is listed as questionable for the Bucs game.
"We had good preparation with the guys who were in there at safety," Gibbs said. "I've always felt that, with the players, it's always important that everybody who goes out there is mentally ready for a physical game. If you're worried about something, you shouldn't play. That's always our approach. We'll just have to see how we do [if Taylor is unable to play]."
During the last three days of practice, Taylor has been able to work on the side, going through mental reps alongside his teammates, Williams said.
Williams compared the injury to Carlos Rogers's ankle injury earlier this season. Coaches and athletic trainers want Taylor to rest the injury as much as possible so that he doesn't aggravate it further.
Meantime, defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin remains listed as questionable due to a hip injury. He also did not practice on Friday.
Last Sunday, Williams used a combination of linemen to make up for Griffin's absence. Defensive end Demetric Evans moved inside, while rookie Aki Jones and second-year player Ryan Boschetti saw substantial minutes at defensive tackle.
Williams has always sought defenders who are versatile and can play multiple positions.
"We would like to have as many players do as many different things as possible," Williams said on Thursday. "I laugh every year with the scouts, especially when we have a new scout come into the organization or when I change organizations. They say, 'What kinds of players do you like, coach?' I say, 'Good football players. No cookie-cutter players. Don't try to pigeonhole players into certain spots.'
"When injuries occur, now you're not desperate when you do have an injury here or there because you're able to shift some things to make as formidable as a defense as you can."
Also, defensive tackle Joe Salave'a returned to practice on Friday and remains listed as probable.
On the offensive side of the ball, quarterback Mark Brunell returned to practice on Thursday after sitting out Wednesday's session to rest a calf injury. He remains listed as probable.