Having been burned by the scrambling skills of quarterback Doug Flutie in last week's 34-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills, the Washington Redskins face another unusually gifted, versatile athlete this week in Philadelphia's Donovan McNabb.
Flutie gained 40 yards on five improvised carries last week, particularly demoralizing the Redskins with an eight-yard scamper for a first down on fourth and five. McNabb, whom the Eagles made the second overall pick in April's college draft, played both basketball and football at Syracuse and is capable of similar big plays.
But to the eye of Redskins Coach Norv Turner, the running styles of Flutie and McNabb present different challenges to a defense.
"It's a little bit different because Flutie, as we saw, is a little bit of a water bug," Turner said. "He's just hard to get hands on. I think what you're going to see in McNabb is a guy who gets outside, and then he turns into a runner. It's not so much where he dances around and moves around and makes you miss. He finds an opening, he takes off and goes with it."
McNabb is also a bigger target for would-be tacklers, five inches taller and 48 pounds heavier than the 5-foot-10, 178-pound Flutie.
Last week, McNabb took over for starting quarterback Doug Pederson in the Eagles' 33-7 loss at Carolina. McNabb completed 8 of 20 throws for 68 yards and one interception. He also carried three times for 21 yards.
Kalu's Status Still Doubtful
With their pass defense ranked 31st in the NFL, the Redskins are eager to get defensive end Ndukwe Kalu back in the mix. But after a second day of practice yesterday, it looks as if it won't be this weekend.
Kalu, who broke his left foot during the Game 5 victory over Arizona, completed the two-hour practice yesterday, but Turner and trainer Bubba Tyer both felt he was favoring his injured foot.
"He's a little tentative, so I think he's not ready to play," Tyer said.
Kalu, however, is working hard to convince coaches otherwise.
He was at Redskin Park on Tuesday, the players' day off, to run. On Wednesday, he joined practice for all but the last five minutes, wh
"I want to show them that I can play," Kalu said. "I was a little sore yesterday. But I was surprised: After I iced it and took pain-relief pills, I felt pretty good this morning."
Before the injury, Kalu (6-3, 246) had played mainly on third downs. In five games, he recorded eight tackles, eight quarterback hurries and one sack.
"Hopefully, when I do get back in there, my presence will be felt--whether I'm 85 percent or 100 percent," Kalu said. "I think I give this team a little different angle as far as coming on the pass rush because I'm a speed, finesse-type guy, while Marco [Coleman] is a real technician and Kenard [Lang] is just brute strength, but has speed also."
Defensive end Marco Coleman, who had been hospitalized to clear up an infection in his knee, practiced today and Tyer said he saw no reason why Coleman would not be able to play Sunday.