ASHBURN, Va. -- Gary Clark wasn't looking forward to goin back to work yesterday.
"We were expecting a total butt chewing," the Washington Redskins wide receiver said.
It turned out that coach Joe Gibbs was more analytical than angry in his review of the team's 13-10 victory over the Detroit Lions Sunday.
"He got on our butt, but he didn't get on it the way I thought he would. It made looking at the films a lot easier," Clark said.
Clark said a major reason why Gibbs was so understanding was that the running game is working.
"As long as we're controlling the ball and taking time off the clock, he's a lot more comfortable," Clark said. "It's been proven over the years that's how you win football games -- although being a receiver, I'd like to prove it wrong."
At the least, Clark isn't happy that the passing game isn't clicking the way it did last year, when he averaged 45.3 yards a catch with 10 touchdowns. He hauled in passes of 82, 75, 65, 61, 54, 50 and 49 yards. This year, he's averaging 23 yards with two touchdown passes and his longest catch has gone for 30 yards.
"We're not getting it done the way we usually get it done, but we're not at the panic stage by any means," he said.
It's safe to say that Clark and Art Monk are at the frustration stage. They were visibly annoyed that they were the intended targets of three Mark Rypien passes that were intercepted Sunday.
Monk was so upset after a first-quarter interception that he threw his helmet to the ground. Rypien had to throw off-balance because of the pass rush. Monk normally doesn't give interviews and declined to comment yesterday on the incident.
Although the fans are directing their boos at Rypien, Clark isn't pointing any fingers.
"I think it's a little bit of everything," he said. "It's all the little things combined into one big thing, the receivers, protection and sometimes it may be even Mark, but he doesn't make a mistake very often. Basically, you have to put the majority of the blame on the receivers and the line."
The Redskins spent a lot of time on their first of two bye-week practices yesterday giving Rypien a lot of work against the blitz.
"You've got to have that sixth sense," Rypien said in handling the blitz.
The quarterback has to know when to sidestep the blitz, step up into the pocket, throw the ball away or take the sack. Rypien, who missed much of training camp holding out in a contract dispute, still seems to be searching for that groove.
On the second interception that was aimed to Clark, Rypien threw into a crowd and the ball was deflected.
"I didn't think Mark was going to throw it," Clark said. "It was deflected a little bit. I asked Ricky [Sanders] after the play, 'Did you see what happened?' He thought it went off my pad. But if it gets there, it's my job to catch it."
Clark later pulled a hamstring in a fourth quarter when he was flipped after making a 24-yard catch.
Three plays later, on a third-and-8 play at the Washington 45, Rypien called Clark's number.
"I was almost going to let Ricky run it. But I thought they'll probably be in a two-deep zone, which is fine [for a short pass], anyhow. I didn't expect them to come up and press man-to-man," he said.
"With a fresh leg, you'd be licking your chops. But I wanted to be safe instead of sorry and I ended up being sorry anyhow."
Clark decided to try to get the first down, but Melvin Bennett jumped in front of him for the interception.
"I thought I beat the guy enough for a first down, but he made a heckuva catch," Clark said.
The interception set up Jason Hanson's field-goal attempt from 49 yards, a kick that would have tied the game if he hadn't shanked it.
Clark, who sat out yesterday's practice with because of the hamstring, is happy bye week has come so he has more time to heal.
"The passing game is going to come around," Clark said.
NOTES: With Clark out, rookie Desmond Howard got a lot of work. "Today was the best practice day for Desmond," Gibbs said. . . . Defensive tackle Tim Johnson missed practice with gastrointestinitis.