Rogers Gets First Start, Proves Up To the Task

By Jason La Canfora and Leonard Shapiro
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, October 3, 2005

Rookie cornerback Carlos Rogers had a rough indoctrination into the NFL in the preseason, getting beat on consecutive plays against Cincinnati, but there were no such problems in his first regular season start yesterday.

Rogers, the ninth overall pick in April's draft, played the entire game with starter Walt Harris out with a calf injury and came away with high marks in the Redskins' 20-17 overtime win against Seattle at FedEx Field. The Seahawks have one of the most potent offenses in the league, but Rogers was up to the challenge.

"That guy was a high pick in the draft," Coach Joe Gibbs said. "We like everything about him. To me, he looks at home out there. He looks like he belongs, he's got confidence. You have to be a gunslinger at corner; you can't be nervous and uptight, a Nervous Ninny, and he's real confident."

The Seahawks threw to Rogers's side a bit early but did not come after him as much as some might expect. Rogers got beat on one pump-and-go, but the pass was incomplete. Overall, he fared well regardless of the receiver lined up across from him.

Washington's secondary had to play well, with starting safety Pierson Prioleau also out with a hamstring injury. Rogers made his first start, safety Sean Taylor is in only his second season, and safety Ryan Clark did not become a starter until last season. Clark started yesterday after missing the first two games due to injury and played well, landing several big hits. Veteran corner Shawn Springs had a huge game, and safety Matt Bowen, a former starter, broke up a couple of key passes as well.

Better in the Red Zone

The Redskins have spent considerable time trying to improve their play around the goal line, and perhaps are beginning to right themselves. They had to rely on three field goals in Week 1, never got in the red zone in Week 2, but scored twice from inside the 5-yard line yesterday.

The coaches are trying to incorporate more players in that area, and change roles as well. Tight end Robert Royal caught four touchdowns in 2004, but mostly on bootlegs. This time he came off the line and caught a pass from a stationary passer.

"We've been working on that play since last year," Royal said. "It just so happens the touchdowns I caught were on bootleg action, and this particular play was in a goal-line package. I think it was a great call."

Washington's other touchdown came on a four-yard pass to H-back Mike Sellers, rarely used on pass routes. Sellers ran a pattern Chris Cooley featured last season, with Cooley a decoy in this case. "We probably hit that same pattern four times last year," offensive coordinator Don Breaux said. "Royal caught it, and Cooley caught it. You just have to give it a different look."

Arrington Used Sparingly

Linebacker LaVar Arrington, a three-time Pro Bowl pick who missed much of 2004 with knee injuries, was used on four plays yesterday, largely watching from the sidelines with his helmet off for the second straight game. He played twice on a drive early in the game, but Chris Clemons played more as a pass rushing linebacker on passing downs. "I've already said everything I'm going to say about that situation," linebackers coach Dale Lindsey said. "His packages were not called, so he didn't play." . . .

Seattle running back Shaun Alexander had a strong second-half, and continued to reel off long runs, but was held to 98 yards; Washington has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in eight games, best in the NFL.

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