Washington Redskins wide receiver Michael Westbrook said yesterday he was frustrated by Sunday's 24-21 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, and he was clearly disappointed by his role in the game. Westbrook had just one reception for 15 yards.
"You've got 10 receivers in the league that had 100-yard games yesterday," said Westbrook, who has a career-high 55 catches through 14 games. "I'm trying to make a strong bid for the Pro Bowl, and I caught one ball for 15 yards. How do you look at me as one of the top receivers in the league when I have one catch for 15 yards?"
Westbrook said he saw his limited role as a function of several factors. "It's a combination of all that stuff: time to throw, game plan, what they have for me," he said. Asked if he raised the issue with coaches yesterday, he said: "No. It's not my offense. I'm just a chess piece."
Westbrook said his main frustration, however, was over losing a game he felt the Redskins could have won.
Albert Connell, who had four catches for 97 yards (including a 48-yard touchdown pass), said he felt crowd noise at the RCA Dome contributed to some missed assignments and mental mistakes on pass protection, which made it tougher for quarterback Brad Johnson to get the ball downfield. Connell said he felt getting more downfield plays would be crucial as the Redskins make their final run at a playoff bid.
"Playoff-wise, it's going to be tough if we can't stretch the field," Connell said.
Coach Norv Turner said the decision to run the ball against Indianapolis dictated why only seven passing plays were called in the first half. Turner said he would have liked both wide receivers to have had more catches.
"If you're committed to the run and you're trying to control an environment situation [noise] and control what you're doing with your team, you're not going to take as many shots," Turner said. "And if you don't take those shots, you're not going to get those plays."
Connell's Risky Business
Connell was so eager to score in the fourth quarter that he again decided against stepping out of bounds after a reception in hopes of breaking loose as time ticked off the clock. Connell said yesterday it was a calculated gamble: He knew he could get out of bounds, and he felt he had the cornerback covered. But he was brought down by the safety after the 24-yard reception, which took him to the Colts 6. The Redskins scored on the drive anyway, closing to 24-21 on a six-yard touchdown run by Brian Mitchell.
"I was so close; I was there," Connell said. "It was something that could have hurt us; then again, it didn't. For instance, in the Philly game [when he failed to step out of bounds on two receptions], I don't think it was as crucial as that one."
Jenkins Is Accountable
While Turner said it was a collective breakdown that led to the blocked field goal in the fourth quarter, tight end James Jenkins shouldered the responsibility. Jenkins had been asked to stop two Colts on the play.
"I tried to give a shot on the guy coming inside," Jenkins said. "He kind of jumped up, and I kind of touched him, but I didn't get a good enough shot on him. Then I had to get quickly outside to block the outside guy, so I guess he just kind of went through my hand a little bit. He got lucky and blocked us."
Sims Says He's Good to Go
Left guard Keith Sims, who has missed two of the last four games with a sprained knee, said he is determined to play Sunday against San Francisco. Sims said he feels he has given the injury adequate rest and badly wants to play in the final two games, with the playoffs in the balance. His backup, Brad Badger, suffered a mildly sprained right ankle Sunday. Trainer Bubba Tyer said he expected Badger to be fine and Sims to be ready.
Besides running back Stephen Davis (sprained ankle), all other Redskins with injuries are probable for Sunday: defensive end Marco Coleman (aggravated existing ankle sprain); Connell (sprained left shoulder), guard Tre Johnson (Achilles' tendinitis), defensive end Ndukwe Kalu (sore foot), cornerback Mark McMillian (bruised rib) and Westbrook (bruised toe).