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Top-Ranked Pass Defense Faces Top-Flight Test

By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 4, 2005

While the Washington Redskins' rushing defense has slipped in recent weeks by allowing big plays, the pass defense ranks first in the NFL heading into Sunday's game with the Philadelphia Eagles at FedEx Field. The Eagles have thrown the most passes in the league, which could present a significant challenge for Washington.

The Redskins' secondary is relatively healthy for a change -- only starting safety Sean Taylor (ankle) missed practice from that group yesterday, and he is scheduled to practice today -- and has allowed only one major downfield play through seven games: a 70-yard flea-flicker for a touchdown in the win at Dallas on Sept. 19.

"We've been playing well so far," stalwart cornerback Shawn Springs said while knocking on a wooden bench in front of his locker. "Let's keep it at that. I don't want to go out Sunday night and get bombed or something like that. We've been playing well, and we've just been battling through injuries."

While the New York Giants churned up yards on the ground last week, the Redskins limited quarterback Eli Manning's effectiveness and safety Ryan Clark intercepted a pass in the end zone.

"We played 80-some, almost 90 snaps on defense," said Gregg Williams, assistant head coach-defense. Manning was "12 for 31, 51 quarterback rating. We did a pretty good job there."

Starting Line Trying to Heal

Williams said he expects injured starting defensive linemen Cornelius Griffin (hip flexor), Joe Salave'a (foot) and Phillip Daniels (ankle) all to be game-time decisions Sunday. Normally, players would have to participate in a practice to play, but Williams said these veterans are exceptions.

Linebacker Khary Campbell (shoulder, probable) was added to the injury list, but he is expected to practice today, Williams said. Offensive lineman Chris Samuels (knee, probable) and tight end Robert Royal (calf, questionable), and safety Omar Stoutmire (hamstring, questionable) also missed practice again. Quarterback Mark Brunell (calf), H-back Chris Cooley (hip) and running back Ladell Betts (shoulder) practiced and are probable. Wide receiver Santana Moss returned to practice after missing Wednesday's session because of illness.

Mitchell to M.C. Benefit

Former Redskin Brian Mitchell will host the NFL Players Association's 10th annual Evening With the Stars tonight at U.S. Chamber of Commerce headquarters. The NFLPA and the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health are raising money for Native Vision, a nonprofit group that benefits American Indian youth, with current and former NFL players in attendance.

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