ASHBURN, Va. – The Washington Redskins placed Malcolm Kelly on injured reserve Tuesday, robbing the team of a big target receiver because of an ailing hamstring that wasn't to heal anytime soon.
There was better news regarding Donovan McNabb and Clinton Portis. Portis practiced for the first time since spraining his right ankle last week against the New York Jets. McNabb was still sidelined but was no longer wearing a compression stocking over his sprained left ankle, and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan was optimistic that the quarterback would practice next week.
"I expect him to," Shanahan said.
Kelly first pulled his left hamstring working out with McNabb in Arizona the week before training camp begin. Kelly took part in the first practice of camp, but he felt the hamstring tighten up the next day and pulled it again a few days later. He tried to return Monday with the hopes of playing in at least one preseason game, but he pulled the muscle yet again and is now done for the season.
"I like the kid," coach Mike Shanahan said. "But you've got to be on the field."
Kelly was a second-round draft pick out of Oklahoma in 2008, but he caught only three passes in his rookie season because of knee and ankle injuries. He returned to play in all 16 games last year, catching 25 passes for 347 yards.
At 6-foot-4, Kelly was supposed to be the tall receiver to counter 5-foot-10 Santana Moss and 5-foot-11 Joey Galloway. It now seems probable that the Redskins will open the season with only one receiver taller than 6 feet — 6-foot-2 Devin Thomas.
Mike Shanahan said if Kelly had been more forthright about the injury at the start of camp, the team would have put the wideout on the physically unable to perform list, which would have allowed Kelly to return during the season.
"I'm disappointed we didn't put him on the PUP list," Shanahan said. "But when a guy comes in and practices the first day and he says he's fine to go, you can't put him on the PUP list. That's another conversation I had with him."
The sprained ankles of Portis and McNabb had temporarily sidelined the Redskins' starting backfield, but Portis was able to return Tuesday after missing only two days of practice.
"I was surprised he came back as quick as he did," Shanahan said. "He looked pretty good."
McNabb's sprain is more severe, having kept him idle for a week and a half since he was injured in the second preseason game against Baltimore. He watched practice Tuesday wearing a baseball cup with a wrap on his ankle. While teammates are certain McNabb will play in the season opener against the Dallas on Sept. 12, the coach continues to remain cautious — at least publicly.
"How do you know?" Shanahan said. "That's what happens when these guys have got these ankle sprains, you're hoping a guy can go, but you don't know if there's going to be a setback or not. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and hoping, he's doing everything he can in rehab to get himself ready. When he's ready to go, I'll let you guys know."
Even if healthy, neither McNabb nor Portis would have played in this week's game, Thursday against Arizona, because Shanahan prefers to rest his starters in the final preseason game.