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Redskins Are Feeling The Pressure Already

Players Try to Stay Cool as Outsiders Turn Up Heat

(By John Mcdonnell -- The Washington Post)
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Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Washington Redskins returned to the practice field Wednesday under the watchful eyes of team owner Daniel Snyder and Vinny Cerrato, the executive vice president of football operations, who observed -- as they frequently do -- from cushioned chairs on the sidelines.

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Though only in Week 3, the team is facing the kind of pressure usually reserved for later in the season as it prepares for Sunday's game at the Detroit Lions. The Lions have lost 19 straight, but Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell still called the matchup "dangerous," which could have as much to do with the Redskins and their psyche as it does the Lions.

"I just feel like people are putting too much pressure on themselves, instead of playing relaxed," Campbell said of his teammates.

In the wake of the team's first win of the season, a lackluster 9-7 victory over St. Louis on Sunday, Washington fans booed the home team, Hall of Fame quarterback Sonny Jurgensen questioned Coach Jim Zorn's play-calling in a live postgame interview and a rookie linebacker drew unwanted attention for lashing out at fans via Twitter. Given the disappointing play the first two weeks of the season, fans and critics alike are starting to wonder how much pressure this team can take.

Running back Clinton Portis said that it's not simply the head coach or starting quarterback who might be in the line of fire.

"I think everybody in this organization on the hot seat," Portis said during his weekly session with reporters. "You know, I think you look at the owner, he on the verge of losing fans. You know, how long before people just give up and stop coming?

"You look at the players, and people want you out of here. You look at the coach, people want you out of here. So who's not on the hot seat? Until we come out and play to our potential, I think everybody on the hot seat."

In the Lions, the Redskins face a team that some might have penciled in as an easy victory prior to the season. Last year Detroit became the first team in NFL history to go winless over the course of a 16-game season. The Redskins, meanwhile, paid mightily for a couple of key roster upgrades and entered the season expecting to contend in the NFC East.

Zorn was asked Wednesday whether he's concerned about facing a Detroit team that might be desperate for a win.

"We're all desperate for a win," he said, prompting chuckles before he mouthed the words again, "We're all desperate for a win."

Zorn's play-calling, in particular, has been a major focus of fan fodder this week after the Redskins' 0-for-5 performance inside the 20-yard line against the Rams.

As for Campbell's contention that players might be putting added pressure on themselves this week, as the team hit the practice field and began installing its Week 3 game plan, Zorn didn't think that was the case.

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