- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 23, 2004

The Washington Redskins’ Dirtbags are a varied lot. Right tackle Ray Brown is the amazingly flexible grand old man. Left tackle Chris Samuels is an athletic two-time Pro Bowl pick. Right guard Randy Thomas is the irreverent mouthpiece. Left guard Derrick Dockery is the kid. And center Cory Raymer is the throwback.

Raymer’s game lacks grace. It’s all about powder and endurance. Raymer probably could find a way to get his uniform dirty on Astroturf.

“Cory is what you call a real woodchopper,” offensive line coach Joe Bugel said. “He doesn’t look pretty all the time, but he just gets the job done. He’s built for toughness.”

Although the 6-foot-3, 295-pounder has remained healthy for just the fifth time in his 10 seasons, it has been a tough year in some ways — and not just because the Redskins are 5-9.

Signed as a free agent in March from San Diego, where he had lost his job to youngster Jason Ball, Raymer (who spent his first seven seasons in Washington) began the year as a backup to converted guard Lennie Friedman. And when Raymer got on the field briefly in the opener against Tampa Bay, quarterback Mark Brunell tripped over his feet and lost a fumble that the Buccaneers returned for their only touchdown.

Raymer didn’t play the next week, but when Friedman had a couple of botched snaps, he took over in Week3 and has kept the job.

“We demand a lot from our center,” Bugel said. “Cory makes all the line calls. He has progressed every week. We’re very comfortable with Cory as our guy. You’re always looking to upgrade, but we’re also trying to establish some continuity.”

That’s good news for the 31-year-old Wisconsin product, who is signed for next year and who regrets leaving the Redskins for an extra $2.2million in signing bonus from the Chargers after the 2001 season.

“I never wanted to leave here, so getting an opportunity to come back was great,” Raymer said. “I feel like a jerk saying it, but I left because of the money. I was so excited to be back that maybe I needed to bring it down a notch, which not starting did for me.

“There’s always room for improvement. I need to have a better offseason in the weight room. I need to work on getting better leverage. The light at the end of my tunnel is getting brighter and brighter, but I hope I have a little bit left. This game is too much fun to not play anymore.”

Matching Monk

Laveranues Coles’ fourth catch last Saturday at San Francisco was his 80th. With his 82 in 2003, Coles is just the second Redskin to put together consecutive 80-catch seasons. Art Monk caught a team-record 106 passes in 1984 and 91 in 1985.

Taylor time

Rookie free safety Sean Taylor hasn’t talked to the media since his DUI arrest Oct. 28, but he’s in line to start 14 games. The only rookies to start more games during coach Joe Gibbs’ 13 seasons in Washington were cornerback Darrell Green in 1983 and linebacker Andre Collins in 1990, each of whom started all 16 games.

If Taylor, a first alternate to the Pro Bowl, ends up in Hawaii, he’ll be the first Redskin so honored since running back Larry Brown in 1969.

Uncooperative weather

Yesterday’s off-and-on downpour and high winds moved the morning defensive walkthrough into the locker room. The afternoon practice was postponed for 20 minutes immediately after stretching when thunder rumbled and lightning crackled. All players worked for a second straight day and should be available for Sunday’s game in Dallas.

Cornerback Shawn Springs had another good practice, after sitting out last week with a concussion and should start against the Cowboys. Assistant head coach/defense Gregg Williams said linebacker LaVar Arrington, who returned last week after missing 11 games following knee surgery, will likely increase his role as he rounds into game shape.

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