By Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Washington's offensive line supposedly was among the team's biggest problems as the season began.
The poor performance of the first-team offense in the last two games of the preseason prompted league observers and Redskins fans to question whether the line could pass-protect or run-block well enough to help Washington be productive on offense.
Through seven games, Clinton Portis leads the NFL with 818 yards rushing, and quarterback Jason Campbell often has applauded the line for "doing a great job giving me time and opening those holes for Clinton and" backup running back Ladell Betts.
Despite the criticism, Washington's offensive linemen were always "confident we'd get the job done," Pro Bowl left tackle Chris Samuels said. "We all take a lot of pride in what we do. We just had to keep focusing on what we needed to do and take it from there."Rogers Excels
Cornerback Carlos Rogers has performed at the highest level of his career while playing a major part in the Redskins' surprising 5-2 start. The fourth-year player was outstanding in coverage again during Sunday's 14-11 victory over the Cleveland Browns at FedEx Field, continuing one of the best three-week stretches of any NFL cornerback, Redskins coaches and players said.
Rogers has been an anchor in pass defense at a time when cornerbacks Shawn Springs and Fred Smoot have been slowed by injuries, and he has proven he can handle a lead role.
"Each week, he's getting stronger and stronger," defensive tackle Lorenzo Alexander said. "Each week, he's making more plays and big hits. It's really amazing when you think about everything that happened to him last year, how far he's come and where he's at right now."
Rogers tore his right anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in a 52-7 loss to the New England Patriots on Oct. 28. Many in the organization thought Rogers would not be ready to start the season, but he worked hard in offseason rehab, played in the preseason and has been especially sharp recently.
"To have surgery and then sit out like he did, and to come back so soon and make the plays he's making, it's incredible," Alexander said. "He's covering top receivers each week and doing a great job for us."Rookies Do Homework
Rookie cornerback Justin Tryon, a fourth-round pick from Arizona State, made the team out of training camp despite struggling in coverage during the preseason. Tryon has been active in five of Washington's seven games but is at the bottom of the depth chart at his position.
Tryon has tried to make good use of his time, he said, closely studying veterans Springs, Rogers and Smoot. He already has learned a lot, Tryon said.
"Shawn and Fred are showing me just to play confident and be smooth," he said. "They're great vets, and they're great guys to be around. I see Carlos stepping in front of passes and doing the right things every day. He's doing his thing out there."
Rookie safety Chris Horton, meantime, has displayed a knack for having good timing. Even when he has been out of position in some defensive alignments, Horton often has recovered in time to make plays.
"I watch a lot of film," said Horton, whose extensive studying of game tapes began when he was at UCLA. "Obviously, the more film you watch, the more you're going to know your opponent. It only helps you."