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Injury Sparked Rogers's Growth

New Approach Pays Off for Redskins CB

The Washington Post's Jason Reid discusses the steady play of quarterback Jason Campbell, who has thrown seven touchdowns without an interception thus far this season. Video by washingtonpost.com
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By Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 23, 2008

Long after practice ended one day last week at Redskins Park, cornerback Carlos Rogers continued to work.

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He had been refining his coverage technique for some time, but Rogers was not finished. He reviewed additional videotape of the Cleveland Browns in advance of Sunday's game and finished the day in a tub of ice-cold water to help ease the strain on his leg muscles. The tub time was the toughest part, Rogers said.

"I hate being in a cold tub," he said. "But every day, I'm in a cold tub to get my legs back and be fresh out there. I wouldn't have done that in the past, I didn't think I needed it, but now I'm trying to do everything to take care of my body and be right."

Talented and headstrong, Rogers thought he had all the answers early in his career, regularly dismissing more experienced teammates who encouraged him to improve his study habits and conditioning. But after his 2007 season was cut short by torn right anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments, Rogers reevaluated his approach.

Now performing at the highest level of his career, Rogers and Washington's secondary have been integral to the success of the NFL's sixth-ranked defense. Coaches and teammates wondered whether Rogers would ever grow up, and it appears finally to have happened.

"The injury really humbled Carlos," defensive lineman Demetric Evans said. "It made him see that this game will pass you by, this game will go on without you, so the injury was a blessing in disguise. It got him more focused. He's focused on being one of the best corners in the NFL."

Rogers's extra work seemed to have helped in a 14-11 victory over the Browns. With cornerback Shawn Springs sidelined because of a calf injury, Rogers took the lead as Washington limited the Browns to 236 total yards. Quarterback Derek Anderson had his best performance of the season in Cleveland's previous game against the New York Giants, but he completed only 14 of 37 passes for 136 yards and a touchdown against Washington.

Rogers's tight coverage against wide receiver Braylon Edwards -- Anderson's favorite target -- contributed significantly to disrupting the timing of Cleveland's passing game. Edwards had four catches for 58 yards against the Redskins, with Rogers often impeding his route in press-man coverage and breaking up passes. Rogers was credited with three passes defended.

And then there was Rogers's fierce tackling. He had three unassisted tackles among four overall, not counting a jarring, textbook shot that separated wideout Joshua Cribbs from the ball in the third quarter, resulting in an incomplete pass. The hit briefly knocked Cribbs out of the game.

Rogers, who has one interception, leads Washington and ranks second in the league with 11 passes defended (Green Bay cornerback Charles Woodson has 12). He is fourth on the team in overall and unassisted tackles with 29 and 25, respectively.

Defensive coordinator Greg Blache recently compared Rogers to a "good wine. His time has come. You just watch him. He's grown. It's just like, hey, he's ready to be sipped and savored. He can always get better, but he's got that poise and that confidence.

"He can line up on whoever that receiver is, we can assign him to it, and he'll take him, and he'll go out there. There's no nervousness in his play. He might get beat, but the guy's going to have to work to beat him. He's not going to beat himself."

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