Despite sagging offense, 'Skins get lift on defense

Washington reinforced by activation of Noble, Arrington and Rogers

Football

August 16, 2005|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

ASHBURN, Va. - Finally, the Washington Redskins received some good news.

Linebacker LaVar Arrington, cornerback Carlos Rogers and nose tackle Brandon Noble were activated from the physically-unable-to-perform list and participated in limited workouts at Redskins Park yesterday for the first time this preseason.

The return of the three key defensive players brought a smile to coach Joe Gibbs, but a lingering sense of anxiety continued to hover around a team still smarting from Saturday night's 28-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers in the preseason opener.

Middle linebacker Lemar Marshall took umbrage with the defense's generosity and special teams coach Danny Smith ran the punt coverage team ragged after the unit allowed 65 yards on four returns.

But much of the scrutiny rested on an offense that seemed to resemble the group that finished last season ranked 30th in yards and 31st in points scored.

Under starting quarterback Patrick Ramsey, the offense gained just 104 yards on 24 plays (an average of 4.3 yards a play), crossed midfield just once in five drives and scored zero points.

"We've got a lot of work to do," said wide receiver Santana Moss, who combined with fellow starter David Patten to catch just two passes for 14 yards.

Ramsey, who has earned repeated votes of confidence from Gibbs, fared better than his 5-for-8, 37-yard, four-sack outing against the Ravens in a scrimmage 10 days ago, but not by much.

Ramsey completed eight of 12 passes for 77 yards against Carolina and avoided getting sacked. But he ended the game's opening drive by woefully under-throwing a pass that was intercepted by Panthers cornerback Chris Gamble, had his longest completion go 16 yards, and finished the game with a 49.7 rating - the lowest among Washington's three quarterbacks.

"Other than one throw, I felt like I had a solid game," Ramsey said. "But that one throw was costly for us. So you can't deduct that in any way. I'm just going to try to avoid those mistakes."

Backup Mark Brunell, who lost the starting job to Ramsey after a 3-6 start last season, looked more comfortable. Brunell scrambled in the pocket and zipped the ball to his receivers en route to an 11-for-19, 121-yard performance that included the Redskins' only two scoring drives.

"We moved the ball, and we were able to put some points on the board," he said. "That's just what you want as a quarterback."

Defensively, the Redskins were average, but that could change with the return of Arrington, Rogers and Noble.

Arrington, who missed 12 games last season due to a strained lateral meniscus and bone bruise on his right knee, could re-invigorate a linebacking corps dealing with the free-agent departure of Antonio Pierce, but a timetable on when he might play has not been set.

"I don't want to get too far ahead of myself," Arrington said as he walked briskly to the locker room. "One practice, one play at a time."

Noble, who played in every game last season and dealt with a staph infection from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in April, also is in limbo about his return. But Rogers, the ninth overall pick in the draft who underwent surgery in June to repair a stress fracture and bone bruise in his right foot and ankle, said he will play Friday at home against the Cincinnati Bengals.

"I'm not going to sit down and watch it," said Rogers, the winner of the Jim Thorpe Award, which is given to the nation's top college defensive back. "So I'm going to get out there and play. I don't really have any limitations. I'm just trying to get my wind back and coming out [of] my breaks a little bit."

NOTES: Cornerbacks Walt Harris (swollen calf) and Artrell Hawkins (strained hamstring), wide receiver Taylor Jacobs (sprained toe), offensive lineman Mark Wilson (sprained lower back) and safety Tony Dixon (sore hamstring) did not practice yesterday. ... The team released rookie offensive lineman Adrian Gonzalez.

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