Strong safety Matt Bowen continues to rehabilitate his injured right knee and is on target to be fully healthy by training camp in July, the team's trainers said on Tuesday. Bowen suffered a torn ACL injury in a Week 5 game against Baltimore last season and underwent season-ending knee surgery a few days later.
While most Redskins players arrived back at the team's training facility on Monday for the start of voluntary off-season workouts, Bowen has been working with the training staff for the last several months.
"I went out today and ran perfectly," Bowen said on Tuesday. "The knee seems to get better every day. Every week, it seems like something starts clicking and I start to move faster."
Bowen said he does not have complete mobility as far as cutting quickly on the knee, but he added, "That's just another step you have to take. We're progressing slowly into it."
Bowen is not expected to participate in the first off-season mini-camp, scheduled for late April or early May. It's possible that he could participate lightly in the second mini-camp, expected to be sometime in June.
"I should be able to do some work," he said. "It probably won't be as heavy as it normally would be, but I feel like I'll be able to do some stuff and help out as much as I can.
"We do have a lot of time--there's no sense rushing it. It's only March and training camp starts in July. No one likes to get injured, but if you think about it, in terms of a knee injury, I actually got injured at the right time because of the [timeframe] of the rehabilitation."
Bowen's injury, which occurred on a special teams play, ended a string of 21 consecutive starts. He finished the 2004 campaign with 25 tackles (19 solo), two sacks and one forced fumble. Both sacks came in the season opener against Tampa Bay; they were the first of his career and came on a pair of safety blitzes.
Bowen admitted that, after the injury, it was difficult to watch from the sidelines for such a long stretch of the season. He was replaced in the starting lineup by Ryan Clark, one of the defense's unheralded newcomers who stepped up and was solid last season.
With the addition of free agent Pierson Prioleau, a former Buffalo Bill, the Redskins have great depth at the strong safety position. Backup Jason Doering, who missed the final four games last season with a right ankle sprain, also has starting experience during his tenure with the Indianapolis Colts from 2001-03.
Among that group, Bowen expects there to be plenty of competition for playing time.
"I think there's a competition for a job every year," Bowen said. "If Brett Favre doesn't throw the ball well enough, they'll bring somebody else in. That's just how it works. You have to produce no matter what position you're in. And I expect to produce, just like I always do."
Given assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams' propensity for complex schemes, Bowen expects all of the defensive backs to get plenty of playing time.
"I've always thought that the more good players you have, the better football team you are," he said. "So the more good players we can add, everyone's for that. It's only going to make the whole team better. As everyone knows about Gregg Williams' defense, a lot of guys play and a lot of guys contribute. He puts players in position that they use their talents to the best of their abilities."