by Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 18, 2010; 12:00 AM
As the ball caromed high off the receiver's shoulder pads, cornerback Carlos Rogers decided to have some fun. Rogers ended his break during practice the other day and joined in the play, sprinting from the sideline to grab the ball and run toward the end zone, smiling as teammates and fans applauded and laughed at Redskins Park.
"You know, seeing him out there like that and having a good time, he's definitely come a long way," cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. "Obviously, there was a lot of stuff that happened in the offseason. Carlos definitely wasn't happy about the whole contract situation, but Coach [Mike] Shanahan talked to him and that meant a lot. He's here and he's all in because of Coach Shanahan. That's the truth."
Rogers made a major turnaround after initially expressing anger about not receiving a multi-year contract offer from the Redskins. Coaches have praised the talented former first-round pick for his knowledge and work ethic, and they envision him performing several important functions in Washington's new 3-4 scheme.
Rogers, who has started 56 games for the Redskins, will be a starter again in his familiar outside position, but will also be used as a nickel corner, in the slot for the first time in his career. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett also has included Rogers in blitz packages.
Among the most vocal critics of Redskins former management, Rogers believes the team finally is doing things the right way. And all it took was the arrival of a Super Bowl-winning coach to run a franchise in dire need of new direction.
"Man, I'm doing great," Rogers said, his face still creased by a wide grin as he walked to the locker room. "It's good now. It's real good. It's just like Coach Shanahan told me it would be. Everybody knows how I felt back then [in March] about not getting one [a long-term deal], but I talked to Coach Shanahan. And when he tells you something, you know you're getting it from the man in charge."
Rogers became a restricted free agent during the offseason under the terms of the uncapped 2010 season in the collective bargaining agreement. The Redskins retained his rights with a non-guaranteed qualifying tender offer of $1.542 million.
The four-year starter, among 200 players who would have been unrestricted free agents during a capped season, hoped the Redskins would simply let him walk away. His resentment toward the organization, for a variety of reasons, had continued to grow since Washington selected him ninth overall in the 2005 draft.
Things became so bad during last season's 4-12 debacle that Rogers openly spoke of his desire to play elsewhere this season, which on at least one occasion prompted a member of the team's public relations staff to cut off a group interview and escort him from the locker room. So Rogers was displeased, to say the least, when the Redskins made him a one-year offer.
"We talked a lot about how the situation with it [the CBA] was making it hard on guys in our position, but there was really nothing you could do," said Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell, Rogers's teammate with the Redskins and in college at Auburn.
"And he also had his feelings about the team, which had been building up. So it was a lot for him."
Shanahan, meanwhile, was still trying to settle into his new post in Ashburn. Officially hired on Jan. 6, Shanahan took the reins of a team that has failed to reach the postseason in eight of 11 seasons under owner Daniel Snyder and has won only two playoff games.
The buzz was that Rogers would not report for offseason workouts or to training camp unless he received a new contract, so Shanahan in March set up a meeting. "I had heard the rumors that he was going to hold out, that he wasn't going to come to camp," Shanahan said. "I just said, 'Hey, I've watched you on film, I really like how you play, and we're going to use you in situations you've never been used before.' I told him the OTAs [organized team activities] and summer camp would make him a better player. I could promise him that.
"But more importantly, that gives me a chance to watch him work. He just had to believe me that if he was the type of player I think he is, that I wasn't going to let him go. . . . The best chance for him to get the contract that he wants is for him to show me that he's going to bust his rear end and be the best possible player that he can be."
Although Rogers waited until the day before training camp began to sign his tender, he participated in the entire offseason program and emerged as a team leader, the Redskins said. Rogers was energized daily by what he witnessed.
"He basically let me know he's running everything, and then he went out and did what he said," Rogers said. "You'd come here in the offseason and it was totally different around here. You see them finally bringing in linemen. Our top draft pick was a lineman [left tackle Trent Williams, selected fourth overall]. I've been around here since '05 and they never did that.
"A lot of times, you just couldn't believe some of the stuff that would happen around here. Like without an offensive line, I don't care what quarterback you brought in here, it wasn't going to work. A lot of stuff that used to happen . . . that stuff doesn't happen anymore. . . . And the scheme . . . man, it fits me perfect."
In his time with the Redskins, Rogers has stirred anger among fans for dropping balls that would have resulted in interceptions, but "there's more to making plays back there than just interceptions," defensive backs coach Bob Slowik said. "Everybody, the normal general fan, is always going to look at the interceptions.
"But in this game, we need guys that are not only going to make interceptions, but get sacks, cause fumbles, big hits, be able to blitz the quarterback and also be able to get hands on the ball. He does all of those things. He's kind of a jack of all trades. And that's what he's going to do for us."