Reporting Grant Paulsen
Phillip Buchanon’s four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy will end on Monday, at which time he’s expected to rejoin the Washington Redskins.
Buchanon, re-signed by the Redskins this offseason to serve as the team’s third cornerback for a second straight season, led Washington in passes-defended in 2010. The 31-year-old defensive back injured his shoulder in the preseason prior to having to leave the Redskins’ facility at the start of the season.
“We’re going to bring him in [on Monday],” head coach Mike Shanahan told reporters on Saturday. “When he left here he was a little banged up so we’re going to see how he is with that shoulder. See what type of conditioning he’s in and then make a decision of what direction we’re going to go.”
Shanahan said Washington’s training and coaching staffs provided Buchanon with a plan for how he was to spend his four-week hiatus from the team. Over the past month and up until Monday none of the Redskins’ team officials have been allowed to contact the 10th-year veteran.
“We definitely gave him a plan to stay in shape and take care of his injury while he was gone. Hopefully he’s okay,” Shanahan said.
Buchanon’s return will force the Redskins to make their first roster move since the team’s final cuts were made almost a month ago. His insertion into Washington’s depth chart will also create a log-jam at cornerback, where the Redskins have dressed as many as five players over the past few weeks.
DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson will likely remain Washington’s starters when Buchanon returns. But nickel-cornerback Kevin Barnes has played well and is coming off a performance that saw him intercept a pass in Dallas. He could be bumped down to the fourth spot in Washington’s cornerback pecking order.
Byron Westbrook and Brandyn Thompson’s are the Redskins’ other two corners. Westbrook is a special teams stalwart and shouldn’t be at risk of being released.
Thompson, a rookie seventh-round pick who has played sparingly this season, would be a more likely candidate to be released because he could then be added to the practice squad if he’s not claimed by another team.
But the Redskins could also release a player from the 53 man roster that isn’t a cornerback if the club elects to keep six players at Buchanon’s position.
Shanahan complimented the play of both Westbrook and Thompson, who made the most of their increased opportunities during Buchanon’s suspension.
“I thought they stepped up and they’ve shown that they can play in the National Football League,” he said. “Every game they seem to get a little bit better. It’s been a good plus for us.”
Getting Buchanon back will be another plus.