washingtonpost.com
The Secondary Finally Plays A Primary Role

By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 22, 2006

Of all the positive outcomes for the Washington Redskins from Sunday's win at New Orleans, the renewed performance of the secondary may have been the biggest surprise. The defensive backs have struggled all season, yet shut down the NFL's top offense Sunday and will get another tough test this weekend in St. Louis.

The coaches have been hoping to see the cornerbacks and safeties make more plays, since the defense has lacked take-aways and big plays all season. The Redskins have just six interceptions, and starting cornerback Carlos Rogers finally got his first interception Sunday, which helped put away the game. Rogers and fellow starter Shawn Springs got hands on passes to direct them away late in the game, and safety Sean Taylor delivered a big hit early to dislodge the ball on what would have been a long touchdown pass.

"Our guys in the secondary made great plays," Coach Joe Gibbs said. "We were aggressive, going for balls and we got our hands in there. I think we played in the air better than we have been playing."

Rogers said, "It lets us know what we can do once we play together and play all four quarters."

Injury Report

The Redskins again practiced without top linebacker Marcus Washington yesterday, although the rest of the ailing veterans were able to participate. Washington, who was downgraded to doubtful for Sunday's game, is out with a knee problem; he has not missed a game since signing as a free agent in 2004 and rarely misses a practice.

Tackle Jon Jansen (torn calf), who missed Sunday's game, practiced yesterday and is listed as probable. Linebacker Lemar Marshall (knee), tackle Chris Samuels (knee) and center Casey Rabach (broken hand) also practiced and are expected to play.

Thanks for Your Cooperation

Defensive end Phillip Daniels and wide receiver Santana Moss were named recipients of the B.J. Blanchard Award for media cooperation throughout the 2006 season. The award, now in its fifth year, was created by local reporters who cover the team on a daily basis and was named for the Redskins' front desk receptionist. . . . The offense continues to focus on finding a way to get the ball in the end zone, continually lagging in the red zone. "The red area is a major concern for us," Gibbs said. "That's number one on our list." . . .

Rookie linebacker Rocky McIntosh said he has been practicing at the weak side this week even with Washington, the strong side linebacker, injured. McIntosh might get his first start on Sunday.

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company