Cincinnati Bengals Coach Marvin Lewis said he is looking forward to facing the Washington Redskins' running attack Sunday despite the fact that his defense is ranked last in the NFL against the run.
Cincinnati is allowing 150 yards per game on the ground and the matchup between Redskins running back Clinton Portis and the Bengals' defensive line and linebackers could dictate the outcome of the game between 3-5 teams.
Lewis believes his team's last-place rating against the run is somewhat skewed because of a few long runs and is not an indication of the club's ability to contain a runner. Portis carried the ball 34 times for 147 yards against the Detroit Lions last Sunday and is on pace for 400 carries this season.
"Our goal and challenge is to keep them from running the football effectively and I think over the last few weeks we've pretty much done that," Lewis said. "But this is another new week, a new challenge, and we did it again last week [against Dallas] until the last part of the football game when it was out of reach."
The Cowboys mustered 109 yards rushing last week, the lowest total the Bengals have allowed since the second week of the season.
The Bengals occasionally have five rookies on the field for the defense and start a rookie at defensive tackle and linebacker. This will be Lewis's first time facing Washington, where he was defensive coordinator in 2002.
Daniels Is Out
Redskins defensive end Phillip Daniels, who re-injured his groin Sunday in Detroit, was listed as out for the Bengals game. Daniels expects to play again at some point, but his groin strain could keep him out for several more weeks. Linebacker LaVar Arrington also is out at least two more weeks with a knee injury -- Arrington has spent this week working with a physical therapist in Birmingham, but is set to return today -- and kicker John Hall (groin) also is out for Sunday's game.
Linebacker Mike Barrow, who has yet to play this season because of a knee tendon problem, again was listed as questionable and his ability to play likely will be determined Sunday morning.
"This was his best day of practice," Redskins director of sports medicine Bubba Tyer said.
Cornerback Fred Smoot (shoulder), defensive end Renaldo Wynn (ankle), safety Ryan Clark (shoulder) and running back Rock Cartwright (thumb) were listed as probable and are expected to play against the Bengals. Cornerback Walt Harris was given yesterday off but should return to practice today, Tyer said.
Reason for Frustration
Coach Joe Gibbs said he understands his receivers might be frustrated after the team threw only two passes in the second half Sunday in Detroit. "Receivers want to catch balls and so you kind of understand that, I do," Gibbs said. "I said to them that it was my decision on that to not throw the ball any more than we did and I realize it's some frustration for them because they're out there wanting to catch balls. The other part of that is we're trying to win ballgames and sometimes that means you make certain decisions as a coach and I know sometimes they'll get frustrated with it and that part of it, I think." . . . Washington and Cincinnati are both looking to generate more offense; the Redskins average just 14.4 points per game, the Bengals average 19. . . . The Bengals have a plus-8 turnover margin, tied for second-best in the AFC. . . . The Bengals have not won on the road this season. . . . The Redskins cut wide receiver Gari Scott from the practice squad and signed defensive back Omare Lowe.