Ailing Griffin makes surprise return

Cornelius Griffin said Friday his injured hip almost certainly would keep him from playing against the San Diego Chargers yesterday.

The Washington Redskins defensive tackle had not played since the first quarter of the Oct. 30 loss to the New York Giants. But when the inactive list was released before kickoff, Griffin’s name wasn’t on it.

Griffin played part-time in the first half, ending a Chargers series by batting down a Drew Brees pass on third down. He returned to regular duty after tackle Joe Salave’a re-injured a foot in the third quarter.

“My hip just started feeling a little better the last couple of days, and if I could get back out there, I was going to get back out there,” Griffin said. “It doesn’t feel any worse than it did before the game. I was glad I was [active] when Joe went down. He picked me up for so long. It was my turn to pick it up for him.”

Safety Ryan Clark said Griffin gave the defense a lift.

“I was excited that Griff came back, but that’s the kind of guy he is,” Clark said. “Every time on the sideline he had a heat pad on his hip flexor trying to keep it warm, but he played as hard as he could.”

So had Salave’a, who played with a painful foot condition since late in the Oct. 16 loss to Kansas City. Salave’a had been improving: he participated in full practices Wednesday and Thursday for the first time since he was hurt.

However, on a routine first-down play on the opening series of the third quarter, Salave’a went down to his knees and stayed there. He was helped to the sideline by the team’s medical personnel and will have another MRI exam on the foot today.

“It hurts pretty bad,” Salave’a said, wincing. “I’m just hoping the MRI doesn’t show any new injury.”

Rogers comes through

Carlos Rogers received the most extensive playing time of his rookie season, and he responded by making his first interception and seven solo tackles.

Three Redskins cornerbacks — Rogers, Walt Harris and Shawn Springs — picked off passes in the fourth quarter, the first time this season any Washington cornerback had intercepted a pass. However, none of the interceptions resulted in points for the Redskins.

Harris started but was benched in favor of Rogers in the second quarter after allowing completions of 11, 16, 6 and 14 yards. Rogers committed an illegal contact infraction in the fourth quarter, and the Chargers scored the tying touchdown one play later. Rogers’ play, though, was solid overall.

Rogers’ interception came at the goal line with 11:11 left and kept the Redskins ahead 17-10.

“I was impressed with his toughness in run support and his hands,” safety Matt Bowen said. “He looked like a veteran out there.”

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