WASHINGTON -- Earnest Byner gave himself a 29th birthday present yesterday. He was the center of attention at RFK Stadium.
Not only did he run for 109 yards in 23 carries in the Washington Redskins' 34-0 victory over the Phoenix Cardinals, but he also decided to talk about it afterward.
Byner, who hadn't been giving interviews this year, said he worked harder in the off-season this year.
"I got the feeling that the older you get, the more you need to do to stay at the top of your game," he said.
Byner said that running backs coach Don Breaux told him to take a breather and he came out a couple of times.
Byner said the Redskins looked at films of the Los Angeles Rams to prepare for the game because Fritz Shurmur, who's now the Cardinals' defensive coordinator, was with the Rams last year.
The running back also said they worked on avoiding fumbles because the Cardinals had recovered 10 in the first two games. "There was extra emphasis put on it by Coach [Joe] Gibbs," he said.
The Cardinals only recovered two -- one by Byner and one by Brian Mitchell.
Byner had five 100-yard games in the last eight regular-season games last year and has done it twice in three games this year.
Linebacker Wilber Marshall, who's often taken out on third-down plays, made a pair of interceptions on them yesterday. He's been lobbying to play more, and he got the ear of the coaches.
"If they want me in the game, they'll do that. I love to be in there," he said. "I've been telling them that. They're the coaches. I believe in what they're doing."
Marshall wasn't happy about being switched from the left side to the right side this year, but he's living with the situation.
"I'm trying to do the best I can for this team. They pay me a lot of money [$6 million] to come in and do what they tell me to do and that's what I'm doing," he said.
Marshall had made only four interceptions in his first three seasons with the team.
Marshall figures to get fined $1,000 -- $500 each for tossing a ball in the stands and handing a ball to a little girl in the end zone after his two interceptions.
Mitchell came back from losing a fumble on a punt return to returning a punt 70 yards for a touchdown in the third period only to have it wiped out by a penalty on Ravin Caldwell.
Mitchell apparently wasn't that upset about the penalty, though, because he said the run showed he could come back from the fumble.
"If you keep worrying about it [the fumble], you mess up your mind. You have to fight through it," he said.
* Center Jeff Bostic of the Redskins hugged coach Joe Bugel of the Cardinals -- a former Redskins assistant coach -- after the game and several other Redskins greeted him.
Bostic said: "Long after I'm finished playing and he's coaching, we'll still be friends. We were very successful together."
* Bostic, who suffered a bruised knee, was the only Redskin injured. . . . Safety Terry Hoage, who had a bad back, dressed but did not play.