Things Are Slowing Down Because the Team Isn't Rushing

By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 3, 2007

In years past, as the weather turned cold, the Washington Redskins would rely on their rushing game. But in recent weeks, behind a makeshift offensive line, that has not been the case.

The Redskins (5-7) averaged fewer than three yards per carry in their 17-16 loss to Buffalo yesterday at FedEx Field, a key factor in their fourth straight defeat. The Bills negated the run; tailback Clinton Portis's longest run was six yards. Portis, who missed practice time this week and was mourning the loss of close friend Sean Taylor, ran 25 times for 50 yards and Washington rushed for 80 yards as a team.

"The Bills did a great job in all phases," left tackle Chris Samuels said. "We couldn't get our running game going. They did a lot of stunts up front and they run that Tampa-style defense and it's hard to key on your guy when you're slipping all over the place [on a rainy day]. But they made more plays than we did, it's as simple as that."

Portis rushed 66 times for 333 yards over two games at the start of November, a gaudy five-yard average, but the running attack has limped since. In the past three games Portis has 57 rushes for just 154 yards -- just 2.7 per rush. On the season he is averaging just 3.9 yards per carry, below the NFL average of 4.1.

The Streak Gets Longer

The Redskins' four-game losing streak is their longest since 2004, Coach Joe Gibbs's first season back, when he won his first game before dropping four straight. . . .

Buses were scheduled to leave Redskins Park at 5:45 this morning to shuttle staff members, as well as players and coaches, to the airport and a flight to Taylor's funeral in Miami. . . .

Bobby DePaul, a member of Gibbs's staff during Gibbs's first stint here, was at yesterday's game on a scouting trip as part of his duties as director of pro personnel for the Bears. DePaul is from Bowie, went to Maryland and is a lifelong Redskins fan. He said his heart went out to Gibbs and the entire organization. "I can't imagine how hard it must be for them to play this game," DePaul said.

DePaul said former Redskins safety Adam Archuleta, now with the Bears, asked permission to attend Taylor's funeral, and he believes other Bears may be attending as well.

Injury Report

Cornerback Shawn Springs suffered a bruised back but both he and Bubba Tyer, director of sports medicine, said they do not believe it is serious. "I'll be all right," Springs said.

It was a crucial injury, however. The secondary is already without Taylor and starting cornerback Carlos Rogers and cornerback Fred Smoot is battling a hamstring injury, meaning a heavier load for youngsters Leigh Torrence, Reed Doughty, John Eubanks and LaRon Landry.

Right tackle Todd Wade hurt his knee, but returned to the game and will likely be reevaluated this week.

Fullback Mike Sellers, unable to practice all week with a back injury, missed his second straight game, putting his availability for Thursday's game against Chicago in doubt.

Wide receiver Antwaan Randle El did not play either, after re-injuring his hamstring during a loss at Tampa Bay a week ago.

Guard Randy Thomas, who has been out since Week 2 with a torn triceps, could play Thursday. Thomas increased his workload all week in practice.

Wide receiver James Thrash missed his third straight game with a high-ankle sprain and he did not practice last week.

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