'Skins face another mobile quarterback

Brooks leads Saints to 4-1 with passing, rushing

NFL Week 6

October 13, 2002|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

ASHBURN, Va. - Mobile quarterbacks are the players du jour in the NFL, and the Washington Redskins' defense has had its fill.

When Aaron Brooks and the New Orleans Saints visit FedEx Field in Landover for a 1 p.m. kickoff today, the Redskins will be facing their fifth elusive quarterback in as many games.

"I'm tired of them," Washington cornerback Champ Bailey said. "They've always got to run around, and you have to make sure you don't lose your guy when they're running around."

Jake Plummer, Donovan McNabb, Jeff Garcia and Steve McNair have tested the Redskins' defense, with Plummer, McNabb and McNair recording at least one touchdown through the air and on the ground.

Linebacker Jessie Armstead said teams are becoming accustomed to seeing elusive quarterbacks.

"All the quarterbacks are mobile," Armstead said. "There aren't too many times where you'll catch a quarterback like a deer in headlights."

Brooks has grabbed the spotlight since signing a six-year, $36 million contract extension last month. The fourth-year player has thrown for 1,186 yards and 10 touchdowns and completed nearly 60 percent of his passes.

The Saints' Joe Horn is the NFC's third-leading receiver with 32 catches for 427 yards, while Jerome Pathon, an Indianapolis Colts castoff, has caught 17 passes for 232 yards and four touchdowns. New Orleans probably will play without standout rookie receiver Donte' Stallworth, who has a hamstring injury.

Brooks, a 1999 fourth-round draft pick, also has shown his ability to run with 99 yards and a touchdown.

"It's amazing because I don't think anybody thought he'd be as good as he is now," Bailey said. "He's definitely one of those Donovan McNabb-type quarterbacks."

The emergence of running back Deuce McAllister - the NFC's top rusher with 461 yards and five touchdowns - has added depth to the Saints' offense and forced defenses to divert their attention.

Tennessee had a similar package in McNair and running back Eddie George, but Washington held them to 85 total yards in last week's 31-14 win to even its record at 2-2.

The defense nearly doubled its season total of five sacks with four, recovered its first fumble and made three interceptions.

Several Redskins players, who had said before the Tennessee game that they were still adjusting to defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis' system, said they felt they caught a glimpse of what they can do.

"We just want to build on that," said linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, who leads the league's 26th-ranked defense with 41 tackles. "We're excited about the major step we took, but we know we're a long way from where we need to be."

Standing in their way today will be an offense that has powered New Orleans to a 4-1 record. And while containing Brooks will be a stiff task, defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson said he welcomes the challenge.

"With so many mobile quarterbacks in the league now, it's better to practice [against them] right now," Wilkinson said, "and get it mastered so that when we get to the stretch of the season and playoffs, we know what we have to do to defend these quarterbacks."

Redskins today

Opponent:New Orleans Saints

Site:FedEx Field, Landover

Time:1 p.m.

TV/Radio:Ch. 5/WNAV (1430 AM), WJFK (106.7 FM)

Line:Saints by 1

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