Redskins ready for the roar from Lions' defense, crowd

Vocal Silverdome fans throw off visitors' timing, coordination

September 10, 2000|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

DETROIT - If he had to try describing what the atmosphere in the Silverdome will be like for today's 4:15 p.m. game between the Redskins and Detroit Lions, offensive tackle Jon Jansen doesn't think he could do it justice.

So he'll let rookie Chris Samuels and third-year center Mark Fischer experience it for themselves.

Samuels and Fischer were not a part of last year's regular-season loss in Detroit. Both will be making their first professional road starts for the Redskins (1-0).

And it could not have come in a more hostile environment.

"There is really nothing you can say," Jansen said. "Hey, it is going to be loud. Until you experience it, you don't really know what it is going to be like. I'll just tell them this is what I do, this is what I'm going to do. If they want to take some of those things, then they will."

What Jansen does is to anticipate quarterback Brad Johnson's cadence. When that does not work, Jansen said, he will just go off the first move of the defensive end.

These were techniques Jansen had to learn the hard way after getting penalized in last year's game at Detroit.

In fact, all five starting offensive linemen were hit with penalties in the Redskins' 33-17 loss in December. Jansen, in his rookie season, was part of that group, which included guard Keith Sims, center Cory Raymer, guard Tre Johnson and tackle Andy Heck.

Fischer and Samuels replace Raymer and Heck. They will face perhaps a better defensive line than the star-studded one the Carolina Panthers produced last week.

Lions left end Robert Porcher and defensive tackle Luther Elliss are Pro Bowl players, and right end Tracy Scroggins had two sacks in last week's 14-10 win over New Orleans. As a group, they are fast and, with help from the raucous crowd, become even faster at home on artificial turf.

"You work on the cadence, you work on the defender - there is not much you can do to combat it," Redskins offensive line coach Russ Grimm said. "It is going to be noisy. You are not going to be able to hear. You [have] got to realize that you are going to be a little late getting out of the stance. The thing is, when it happens, you just can't hit a panic button.

"They've always had great support from the fans. They've always had a strong home record."

Redskins safety Mark Carrier would have been valuable in a game like this. He is a 10-year veteran who spent the last three seasons with the Lions (1-0). But the league suspended Carrier for this game for his helmet-to-helmet hit against Panthers tight end Wesley Walls in the Redskins' 20-17 win.

Matt Stevens replaces Carrier in the lineup, and Redskins coach Norv Turner plans to use cornerback Tyronne Drakeford heavily.

This is the second straight week the Redskins will be without a starter because of suspension. Guard Tre Johnson missed last week's game, because he accidentally pushed a referee in the Redskins' 27-13 playoff win over Detroit in January.

The Redskins played much better in the playoff game against Detroit than they did a month before, but that game was at FedEx Field.

Detroit went 6-2 last year at home with wins over the Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams and NFC Central Division winner Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"When you ... play on the road in a dome, it is important that you play good defense," Turner said. "But offensively, we have to get first downs early, avoid the negative play early. If we can do that, then I think things do settle down, and we can get into a little bit of a rhythm."

The Lions will get back quarterback Charlie Batch, who missed the season opener after breaking a bone in his right knee during the off-season.

Batch said at midweek, after signing a new $31 million contract extension, he felt healthy enough to play. He gives the Lions a better chance of winning than backup Stoney Case, the former Ravens quarterback who did not get the team in the end zone last week.

Running back James Stewart, who signed as a free agent during the off-season, gives the offense its biggest threat at that position since Barry Sanders retired on the eve of training camp last season.

"We thought James played very well," Lions coach Bobby Ross said. "He ran hard, ran tough. We just got to give him more blocking. A guy in this league doesn't do it by himself. We [have] got to be better up front. That is going to be huge against [the Redskins], because this is a team with a dominating-type defense."

The last time these teams were on the field together, a fight that drew in players from both teams' benches marred the game. It started after Porcher hit Brad Johnson late.

"From my own personal experience, I know I won't be running out on the field if a fight breaks out," fullback Larry Centers said. "We're all professionals. We realize that is something that just happened. We are going to go out and play football and not try and have a street fight with them."

NOTES: Guard Michael Moore, cornerback Lloyd Harrison, running back Skip Hicks and Raymer are the early inactives for the Redskins. Wide receiver Derrius Thompson replaces Carrier on the roster after spending the first game on the practice squad.

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