Redskins 411: Back to Reality for Clark

Chris Cooley on pace for a big season

The Redskins have an NFL-low four interceptions. But safety Ryan Clark has two of those the last two weeks.


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The first one, off Eli Manning in the end zone, ended New York's second series on Oct. 30. The second one, off Donovan McNabb at the Redskins' 3-yard line with 1:32 left, sealed Sunday's 17-10 victory over Philadelphia.

If there was any thought of Clark letting his big plays go to his head, the real world intervened really quickly. Three hours later, Clark was in his bathroom playing plumber.

"I had to go home and unclog my toilet at 2:30 in the morning," Clark said, laughing. "I'm the same guy that was cut (by the Giants before the 2004 season) and ended up starting (11 games for the Redskins that fall). I enjoy the game (more) because I was out of it. I see the game differently than guys who come in as first-round picks. I try to stay even and stay humble, know that next week I can be the guy who gets beat for the touchdown and y'all be asking me different questions."

As for having interceptions each of the last two weeks after not having one in his first 40 games, Clark said, "Turnovers are kind of the icing on the cake for me. I'm the same old kid, the little (street) free agent guy telling all those first-round picks where to line up. That's my job."

Like Clark, middle linebacker Lemar Marshall wasn't drafted and was cut more than once before becoming a starter.

"Ryan's playing good, smart football and that's what we need in the back end," Marshall said. "That's two drives that Ryan has ended the last two games. We definitely needed the one yesterday."

Walt Harris, who like fellow cornerbacks Shawn Springs, Carlos Rogers and Ade Jimoh, remains without an interception, said opponents aren't testing the outside as much as usual against the Redskins, who rank seventh in pass defense, but just 21st against the run.

Notes and Quotes

--OT Jon Jansen hasn't played with two unprotected thumbs since he broke the left one in practice on Sept. 5, but he might risk doing so, at least in practice this week.

"I'll see on Wednesday how (the right thumb he broke in the Sept. 11 opener against Chicago) is feeling," Jansen said. "I've been doing OK with it, but I get in some bad positions from it. I would really like to be able to play the last eight games without any hindrances."

Jansen said the cast was a factor in the sack for which Eagles defensive end Jevon Kearse beat him on Sunday night.

"I'm not trying to build any excuses, but if I had had the use of both hands, it would've been an advantage to me," Jansen said.

--DE Phillip Daniels' sack of Donovan McNabb as the first half expired prevented the Eagles from trying a field goal.

"I really wanted to knock the ball out of Donovan's hands, but I didn't want to miss him either, because I knew there were only a few seconds on the clock," Daniels said. "I knew if I got him down, time would possibly run out on them. Once I knocked him down, I kind of stayed on him for a couple seconds."

Player Notes

--DT Aki Jones, an un-drafted rookie from Fordham, debuted against the Eagles and dumped star RB Brian Westbrook for a 2-yard loss at the Washington 44 for his first NFL tackle.

--TE Chris Cooley had seven catches for 85 yards against the Eagles, putting him on pace for 70 catches and 806 yards, which would make him the most prolific Redskin H-back/TE since Jerry Smith in 1967.

--DT Joe Salave'a started and played the whole way on the tender right foot he first hurt on Oct. 16 in Kansas City. He was no worse for wear on Monday and will start this week at Tampa Bay.

--OT Chris Samuels started and played the whole way on the right knee he sprained the previous Sunday against the Giants. Samuels is expected to start again against the Buccaneers.

--DL Demetric Evans, who started seven games at DE last year, made his first start at DT in place of the injured Cornelius Griffin, and made two tackles while helping hold the Eagles to just 45 yards on 23 carries.

Report Card vs. Eagles

PASSING OFFENSE: B -- Mark Brunell rebounded from a dreadful outing last week at Giants Stadium and returned to the accurate form he displayed the previous six games, although his fumble in the red zone likely cost the Redskins three points. He was especially effective finding H-back Chris Cooley on the move. Cooley had a big night, a week after being carted off the field with an injured hip and knee. WR Santana Moss had another good day. WR David Patten didn't catch a pass but he drew a 39-yard pass interference penalty that set up a touchdown. RB Ladell Betts had a season-best 26-yard catch to help set up Portis' touchdown. LT Chris Samuels' sprained right knee held up well enough for him to play up to his usual standards. RT Jon Jansen was beaten by Jevon Kearse for an early sack. LG Derrick Dockery and C Casey Rabach were caught holding, but Dockery saved a TD by recovering Cooley's fumble at the Philadelphia 6. The pass protection was generally excellent.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C -- Mike Sellers started for TE Robert Royal (calf) and scored his first career rushing touchdown. After managing a career-worst nine yards on four carries last week, RB Clinton Portis had an inconsistent game. He went over 5,000 yards for his career on a 15-yard jaunt in the second quarter and had a 6-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, but also had way too many minimal gains.

RUSH DEFENSE: B-minus -- With top DT Cornelius Griffin out with an injured hip, the Redskins opted to go with a 3-4 alignment for most of the game. Fellow DT Joe Salave'a played with a chronically ailing foot. The line didn't give Brian Westbrook much room to run but couldn't get Donovan McNabb when the quarterback scrambled. CB Walt Harris was a tackling demon early. SS Ryan Clark had a big stop that prevented the Eagles from getting close enough to try a field goal on their first series. LB LaVar Arrington started in place of Warrick Holdman, who had struggled in recent weeks. LB Marcus Washington had a couple of nice plays and a bad penalty before coming up with a big sack of Donovan McNabb in the fourth quarter. LB Lemar Marshall wasn't his usual productive self.

PASS DEFENSE: B-minus --FS Sean Taylor and CB Shawn Springs were victimized by Reggie Brown on the rookie's 56-yard catch and run for the opening touchdown. Clark clinched the victory with his interception on the Eagles' final play. Billy McMullen beat Clark and Marshall on a 38-yard strike that set up Philadelphia's FG. The prevent defense surrendered completions of 27 and 26 yards that propelled the Eagles from their 15 to the Redskins' 7 in just 56 seconds before Clark saved the day.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B-minus -- K John Hall hit a 24-yard FG in his first game since pulling his right quadriceps in the opener eight weeks earlier, but Hall also couldn't keep his subsequent kickoff inbounds. The coverage units were fine as usual. Punter Derrick Frost was solid. PR James Thrash was lucky that teammate Pierson Prioleau fell on his muffed punt. KR Ladell Betts' 48-yard return was Washington's longest this year.

COACHING: B -- A week after the worst loss of his career, Joe Gibbs' team fell behind 7-0 in the first quarter, but the coach and his staff and players kept their poise. Washington was ahead by halftime and never trailed again. The Redskins played hard and they played tough in what Gibbs said reminded him of the good old days in the NFC East. The uneven running game and the weekly surrender of at least one big play by the defense are sore spots, but this week, they weren't fatal wounds. Recommended Stories

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