Redskins' Torrence Seizes The Play

By Dan Steinberg
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Leigh Torrence's unpaid congressional internship was like thousands of others in this city of unpaid interns. He sorted mail for Rep. Sanford D. Bishop Jr. (D-Ga.). He responded to constituents. He researched memos. He sat in a closet-size room jammed with two desks and miscellaneous supplies, a room other Bishop staffers call "the intern hole." He answered the phones -- "Good afternoon, Congressman Bishop's office" -- dozens of times a day. He stocked drinks.

He stocked drinks?

"Put the Cokes in the refrigerator," explained Torrence, whose full-time job is playing cornerback for the Washington Redskins. "I mean, somebody's got to do it. One minute they'd need to get something stocked, then the next minute I'd be going with the congressman to one of the whip meetings and they're putting the agenda together for the [Democratic] party going into the week. I mean, heck yeah, I'll stock some drinks."

He was, Torrence said, merely taking advantage of an opportunity. In that case, it was the opportunity afforded a Stanford graduate with majors in political science and African-American studies who happens to live in the Washington area.

Sundays this fall are suddenly presenting Torrence with a different opportunity. With Fred Smoot inactive because of a hamstring injury and Carlos Rogers hurting his knee against New England on Sunday, Torrence saw the most extensive action of his three-year career, logging more than 60 plays and often facing off with all-pro wide receiver Randy Moss.

Rogers received word this week that he has torn ligaments and will miss the rest of the season, making Torrence third on the depth chart behind Shawn Springs and the injury-plagued Smoot.

"It's all up to him," said Rogers, who expects to recover within five or six months and be ready for training camp. "It's all about his will. Leigh's a fast guy, a quick guy, a guy that [will] always compete. That's all you can ask for. Now's the time: your number's called and you've just got to step up and play."

To take Rogers's place, the Redskins signed John Eubanks from the practice squad to the active roster yesterday. Safety Pierson Prioleau has played frequently in nickel packages and could also see more time with Rogers gone. And Smoot, who said he could have played last week, seems likely to return Sunday against the New York Jets.

Still, after being out of football a year ago, Torrence now has the biggest chance of his NFL career.

"Not pressure; it's just an opportunity," he said yesterday. "It's just something I've been preparing for for a while. You're not guaranteed to get a chance like this. [I'm] just trying to make the most of that."

Torrence, an Atlanta native, was signed by the Green Bay Packers in 2005 after starting for three years at Stanford, where he also ran track. He was cut after training camp that summer and expected to land on the Packers' practice squad, but the Falcons claimed him off waivers, and he wound up playing in 10 games, mostly on special teams.

He was released by the Falcons last summer, and spent the next few months working out in Atlanta while trying out for one team after another: Chicago, Green Bay, the Redskins, Seattle, and Tampa Bay.

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