Assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams loves to say that when a player goes down to injury, a backup is expected to come in and not miss a beat. That system helped him uncover quality starters and backups last season. From obscurity came the likes of Demetric Evans, Lemar Marshall, Antonio Pierce, Ryan Clark and Chris Clemons, among others.
An early candidate for this year's surprise defensive player could be defensive tackle Cedric Killings.
Killings logged four tackles--all in the second half--in last Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks. Playing as part of a rotation on the defensive line, Killings was particularly effective on run defense, penetrating into the backfield to stop Seattle running back Shaun Alexander.
Killings is in his third season in the NFL. The 6-2, 290-pounder out of Carson-Newman won a roster spot with a solid preseason, and his playing time increased when teammate Brandon Noble was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury.
The journeyman lineman admitted that it's been a challenge to establish himself in the NFL.
"When you don't know when your next opportunity is going to come, you have to have the right attitude," Killings said. "I've worked hard here to try and fit in. I've stayed focused. I think that's helped me."
Williams praised Killings for his effort.
"Cedric really played well last week," Williams said. "We thought he played very physical in the run front against a team that has a pretty good offensive line. He got our defensive game ball. He did a lot of things like occupying the run blockers, allowing Lemar Marshall to run and hit like we want our middle linebacker to play.
"It was nice to see another young guy step up and play the way [defensive coordinator-defensive line coach] Greg Blache wants him to play. He had a strong game."
-- INJURY UPDATE: HALL, HARRIS DOWNGRADED
Kicker John Hall and cornerback Walt Harris did not practice on Friday and were downgraded to doubtful for Sunday's game in Denver.
Head coach Joe Gibbs said Hall was unlikely to be ready by Sunday. That means rookie kicker Nick Novak is expected to play in his third consecutive game.
The Redskins practiced in a steady rain on Friday. That should aid Novak on Sunday, since the weather forecast in Denver calls for the possibility of rain.
If Harris is unable to play, rookie cornerback Carlos Rogers would likely see extensive playing time in his place. The team may also seek to add a defensive back to the roster. If Harris is deactivated, the defense would have just three cornerbacks.
Said Gibbs: "We're still talking things over with the defensive coaches, but I think we could work around it and see how the health issues were this week. We haven't made a final decision there."
Safety Pierson Prioleau, who missed the Seattle game due to a hamstring injury, is listed as probable. Coming off the practice fields on Friday, he gave a thumbs up when asked about his hopes of playing against the Broncos.
"Everything's good," he said.
Ladell Betts (groin) and Shawn Springs (shin) were added to the injury list on Friday. They are listed as probable. Neither injury is considered serious.