Blache Riffs on Key Matchup

By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 31, 2008

Washington Redskins defensive coordinator Grag Blache, stressing the potential significance of entering the bye week at 7-2, called Monday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers "the biggest game we've played since I've been here" during a typically entertaining news conference.

He said the Redskins are beat up and tired and looked "like the Confederate army going home" after Sunday's 25-17 victory in Detroit. As a result, Redskins coaches are trying to keep the players as fresh as possible, practicing out of pads.

Blache said he is asking his defense to "be the big brother" this week and help out the offense, which will facing the league's top-ranked defense. Blache's defense needs to take some pressure off the offense by "trying to create a short field," he said.

The Steelers have allowed 23 sacks, but Blache remarked that the Redskins aren't showing the ability to get to the passer much this season. Washington is tied for 28th in the NFL with just 10 sacks.

"We applied for a job at Giant and couldn't get it because we couldn't sack groceries," Blache said.

Blache praised Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's toughness and willingness to absorb punishment to make plays. "You hit him as hard as you can, and he's going to help you up and say, 'Bring it again.' "

Blache said he also expects the Steelers to have starting running back Willie Parker (sprained knee) back in the lineup on Monday for a team built on the rushing game.

Blache said his defense must be sharper, more intense and more focused than it was against the Lions, or the Steelers will make them pay. In short, they have to look their best.

"We've got to wash our face, put on our makeup and comb our hair, or nobody's going to ask us out," he said.

Rest Up, Kids

Coach Jim Zorn is telling the team's nine rookies to rest up because most of them are spent from their first NFL campaign, which, including the preseason, has already lasted longer than the college season. It's natural for rookies to hit the wall, Zorn said, but they have to push through.

Malcolm Kelly's knee will keep him out at least through the bye week, but Zorn praised fellow wideout Devin Thomas for running after the catch on his one reception Sunday and said that tight end Fred Davis has "been getting more and more involved" in the offense.

As for the team's struggles inside the opponent's 20-yard line -- an area where Thomas, Kelly and Davis were expected to help out -- Zorn said, "I'm not alarmed, but I know where we have to push." . . .

Kick returner Rock Cartwright and guard Pete Kendall returned to practice today. Zorn said that top cornerback Carlos Rogers is still limping a bit from a heel injury and rested again yesterday, but that he, too, is slated to play.

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