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Wide Receiver Corps Weathers Injuries

First it was Devin Thomas. Then it was Anthony Mix. Then it was Malcolm Kelly and Antwaan Randle El.

The Redskins' wide receivers have been plagued by nagging injuries this training camp.

The situation has been a concern for head coach Jim Zorn, because it forces starters Santana Moss and Randle El to play more reps.

"They get worn down, too," Zorn said. "We have to make sure we take care of the guys we're really counting on."

Randle El sat out practices on Tuesday and Wednesday to rest a sore hamstring. His availability to play against the Jets is expected to be a game time decision.

"He should be okay, but I'm not so sure I'm going to let him be okay [and play]," Zorn said.

Now the good news: Thomas is full-go in practice again and he is expected to play in Saturday's preseason game against the New York Jets.

"I'm feeling good and my hamstring is feeling a lot better," Thomas said. "I'm confident. It's my first chance to showcase what I can do. I'm excited and I hope I get a lot of opportunities."

Added Zorn: "What I've learned about Devin is that while he was rehabbing, he was listening. He doesn't make a lot of mistakes in practice and he fights to catch the ball. I've really seen him step up. He has an attitude of really trying to prepare for the game."

Kelly, another Redskins rookie draft pick, had a knee scope on Aug. 4. He could be sidelined at least another week as he recovers from the surgery.

The reserve wide receivers, including Mix and Billy McMullen, have had opportunities to earn more playing time as a result of injuries to Thomas and Kelly.

But they are injured themselves.

Mix had just returned from a hamstring injury when he suffered a rib injury in last Saturday's preseason game against the Buffalo Bills. He is expected to be sidelined at least a week.

"He wants to be out there in the worst way," Zorn said. "But he can't even sneeze and feel good because of his cracked rib. He just has to wait until the pain subsides and until he can tolerate being out there."

McMullen, a four-year veteran trying earn a roster spot, has been slowed by knee tendonitis this training camp.

McMullen has fought through the soreness and leads the Redskins in preseason catches with seven receptions for 89 yards.

"He has been quiet and steady," Zorn said. "What has hurt him is his knees, and not being able to explode [with his speed] all the time. He is ready for games, but in practice he has a hard time getting up to speed because his knees are sore.

"His desire is there, and he's right in the mix of the competition at the wide receiver spot."

One veteran wide receiver who appears to have really impressed Zorn is James Thrash, the 12-year veteran.

Thrash, a consummate pro, has been a key backup and special teams player the last four years with the Redskins.

It's easy to forget that Thrash was a three-year starter in Philadelphia from 2001-03 and caught 164 passes for 2,026 yards and 15 touchdowns in that span.

On Wednesday, Zorn went so far as to say that Thrash had already earned a roster spot with his hard work in camp.

"The very first day I watched him, I knew," Zorn said. "It didn't matter what we had with the rookies, [Thrash] was going to play because he was ready. He really took to how we were running the offense. He can play all three positions. He can play at a high speed. He brings real veteran approach.

"My hope is that the younger guys will actually hang around him and his approach will rub off on them."

With Thrash seemingly secure, five receivers--Mix, McMullen, Burl Toler, Maurice Mann and Horace Gant--are competing to be the sixth and final wide receiver on the roster.

And that's only if Zorn decides to keep six wide receivers.

"For all these guys, they have to last," Zorn said. "Sometimes it won't be about talent. It'll be about, 'Can you stay on the field?' In today's game, with a 53 man roster, it's about having football players who have durability.

"All of these guys, they're all fighting. They're trying to make it, they're trying to get on the football field."

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