Sellers Lobbies For a Chance In the Backfield

By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 20, 2007

For much of last season, Mike Sellers was an afterthought in the Washington Redskins' offense, used for little besides his lead blocking ability, but that role is changing. Sellers had a career-high four carries in Monday's victory at Philadelphia and is being deployed more as a receiver and ballcarrier.

Sellers has performed at a Pro Bowl level in recent years, but after becoming a valuable third-down and red-zone weapon in 2005, he rarely had the ball in 2006. He already has six rushes this season -- half of last season's total -- and has caught two passes.

"I don't think you understand how much begging I had to do, seriously," Sellers said. "Every day I walk by Coach [Joe] Gibbs and say, 'Short yardage.' He starts laughing, but I'm dead serious, and it's really paid off."

Sellers said Al Saunders, associate head coach-offense, was convinced Sellers would be a weapon carrying the ball in third-and-short situations, but Gibbs worried about the workload for the fullback, who expends a lot of energy blocking and on special teams.

"You've got to deal with the head man, he makes all the decisions," Sellers said. "And being that I'm the only fullback, he was a little hesitant at first, but, man, I can get hurt any game doing anything I can do. It's not going to hurt me if I run the ball just a little bit."

Sellers loves initiating contact, and knocked Eagles safety Brian Dawkins from Monday's game for a few plays. "We have this little agreement, I guess," Sellers said of Dawkins. "He lets me run him over once a year." On Sunday, Sellers is hoping to get a chance to challenge Giants middle linebacker Antonio Pierce, a former teammate, and has been texting him with warnings this week.

"You don't come across too many guys, 6-3, probably 300" pounds, Pierce said on a conference call. "He's a big boy. You've just got to lower your pads and be ready."

Campbell on McNabb

Quarterback Jason Campbell said he could sympathize with Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, who expressed concerns in an HBO interview over the way black quarterbacks are sometimes treated. Campbell said race has seemed to affect the way people reacted to him as a quarterback, but not for quite some time.

"Probably early on in my career, early on in college, my first year in college, people look at you differently because of that," Campbell said. "They expect a lot more. You have to do a little bit extra. You feel sometimes that you have to do a little bit extra. At one point in my career I did feel that way, but I don't feel that way now that I have been in the NFL. I have before in my career feel that I have been graded differently."

Injury Report

Cornerback Fred Smoot (hamstring) and end Phillip Daniels (foot) returned to practice yesterday and both expect to play Sunday. Safety Vernon Fox (groin) was working with athletic trainers on the sideline early in practice and did not participate fully. . . . The Redskins are carrying six safeties and could consider a roster move there to open up room for a guard. . . . Rookie safety LaRon Landry, who made a game-ending hit to break up a pass Monday night, hopes that's the first of many big plays. "I got a lot of text messages and calls after the game, but we have a long season and that's just one game," Landry said. "The next game I might come out and totally stink up the place. Hopefully I don't, but I'm going to have good games and bad games." . . . The Redskins have yet to be beaten really deep and figure the Giants may try to use Amani Toomer and Plaxico Burress deep. Safety "Sean Taylor is hawking over the top, and I think teams have been scared to test him," defensive lineman Demetric Evans said. . . . Pierce said he has seen former Redskin star LaVar Arrington a few times since Arrington suffered serious injuries in a motorcycle accident this summer. "To look at him now, you wouldn't know who he is," Pierce said. "He's about 230, if that. He's in good spirits and wants to get his body healthy and get situated for next year." Many believed Arrington was going to retire before the accident, but Pierce said he thinks he will try to play again.

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