Wilson Replaces Thomas on Line
Byline: Jody Foldesy, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Washington Redskins rookie Mark Wilson hasn't played a down in the NFL, but this weekend he is expected to start at right tackle in a line shuffle precipitated by right guard Randy Thomas' strained hamstring.
Wilson, a fifth-round draft choice, should start Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers' top-ranked defense. Making his task particularly difficult is the fact that Pittsburgh plays a 3-4 front (three down linemen, four linebackers), while most NFL teams use the more conventional 4-3.
Thomas is expected to miss two-to-four weeks while recovering from a significant strain, which forced him out of Sunday's 28-6 loss at Philadelphia. Ray Brown, a 41-year-old who has played well at right tackle, will shift to his natural guard position, while Wilson becomes the latest Redskin to fill in for injured Jon Jansen.
"Maybe the reason why we're going through [so many injuries] is now we [get a chance to] look at Mark Wilson," coach Joe Gibbs said yesterday. "We're going to throw him into one of the toughest games anyone could ever go in against."
The Redskins selected Wilson, a four-year starter at California, and Notre Dame's Jim Molinaro in the late rounds of April's draft to provide assistant head coach for offense Joe Bugel a pair of young linemen to mold.
"We decided late in the draft that we were going to take two big tackles with the hope that we would hit on one," Gibbs said. "I actually think we have two good prospects there. ... Mark probably wouldn't have got a chance to play. Now he's got his opportunity."
Molinaro, a sixth-round pick, has played on special teams and even as a goal-line defensive lineman, but Wilson generally has been inactive. The coaching staff is leaning away from starting Molinaro because he has practiced largely on the left side. Recently signed veteran Vaughn Parker, meanwhile, still isn't in game shape.
Hall could play
The Redskins could get kicker John Hall back this week - just in the nick of time, it seems, considering the struggles of replacement Ola Kimrin.
Kimrin has missed four of his past eight field goals, failing to hit from beyond 35 yards since he went 2-for-2 in his Oct. 17 debut at Chicago. The native of Sweden, who became something of a celebrity back home after the Bears game, also is struggling on kickoffs, where he has drawn penalties by hitting two out of bounds.
Kimrin remains confident about his field goals, noting that all of his misses have been well-struck, but he said he's "rushing" his kickoffs. …