Defense Welcomes Back One Starter, but Loses Another

By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 29, 2007

FOXBOROUGH, Mass., Oct. 28 -- Linebacker Marcus Washington, a former Pro Bowler, returned to the lineup after missing two games with a hamstring injury, but was not in his usual role.

Washington played primarily on third downs during a 52-7 loss to New England on Sunday at Gillette Stadium, and was stationed on the line with his hand down as a rush end. He saw very limited action in pass coverage, and is still working his way back from the hamstring injury.

"I've still got to be smart until it's all the way healed," Washington said. "But it felt good today to be out there with my guys, even under the circumstances. That's sometimes what you go through."

Washington is often deployed to pressure the quarterback and disrupt the offense in varied ways, and he believes that, after another week of practice, he can resume playing in the base defense against the New York Jets.

He isn't the only ailing linebacker; the team was scrambling to find them for this game. Starting weak-side linebacker Rocky McIntosh has suffered pinched nerves in both shoulders this season, and was forced out of Sunday's game several times. That problem has become acute at time, causing some concern for the second half of the season. Rookie linebacker H.B. Blades was also knocked out of the game briefly with a strained knee, but he, too, returned.

Cornerback Carlos Rogers suffered a serious knee injury on the opening drive that the Redskins fear is season-ending. Tailback Clinton Portis, who has been ineffective this season, missed a few series with a bruised hand after trying to recover a fumble, but returned and played most of the game. Safety Vernon Fox bruised his hip, but neither his nor Portis's injury is believed to be serious.

Unsportsmanlike Conduct?

While several players and coaches seemed less than thrilled that the Patriots continued to run up the score in the second half, including converting a fourth and one while leading by 38 points, most postgame remarks were restrained. New England has been scoring late in lopsided games against opponents all season.

"You're trying to run out the clock," guard Pete Kendall said. "Not only is it not unexpected, it's probably the right thing to do at that point. I don't take any umbrage at anything that happened today other than we lost the game."

Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs, who briefly shook hands with Patriots Coach Bill Belichick after the game: "I have no problem with anything they did. Nothing. No problem with me."

Offense Struggles

Portis rushed 11 times for just 27 yards Sunday, and is averaging 3.4 yards per carry over the last six games as the feature back, but Gibbs said he is mulling no changes and is not inclined to use running back Ladell Betts, who surpassed 1,000 yards last season, more often. . . . The Redskins have been prone to fumbles, a problem that recurred Sunday. Quarterback Jason Campbell fumbled three times, and the Redskins have fumbled at least three times in four of their last five games. They have 15 fumbles in that span, losing seven. "They did a great job of making plays on the ball," Campbell said.

Staff writer Mark Maske contributed to this report.

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