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The Force is with Redskins
In a game in which 37 points are scored, the highlights figure to be touchdown runs, touchdown catches and touchdown passes.
The highlight of yesterday's 34-3 win by the Washington Redskins over the Detroit Lions, however, was a 24-yard completion thrown by quarterback Jason Campbell with his team 70 yards away from the end zone.
That's because the pass was to Mike Sellers. Big things seem to happen when the 6-foot-3, 284-pound Sellers gets the ball.
"He is a very unique individual," coach Joe Gibbs said. "He is a force."
"The Force" took the pass from Campbell in the second quarter, squared his shoulders, headed downfield and delivered a hit that was all over the Internet within two hours after the game.
Sellers laid out Lions safety Kenoy Kennedy, who, while lying in a heap on the ground as Sellers tried to make his way over the body, still managed to trip The Force and bring him down.
But the damage was done: Mike Sellers set the tone for what to expect from the Redskins yesterday at FedEx Field.
The hit was Marion Motley-like. It was Jim Brown-like, Larry Csonka-like, Walter Payton-like.
"Honestly, I don't know how bad it was, because I usually hit people," Sellers said. "So for me, it wasn't anything different. Apparently, I ran over him from what I understand."
Yes, Mike, apparently you did.
Sellers, who missed some practice late in the week with a heel injury, wasn't done, though.
The 24-yard pass play helped move the ball down the field and, on first-and-goal at the Detroit 1, Sellers took the ball in to give Washington a 14-0 lead.
Sellers, whose primary role has been as a blocking back and special teams player, finished with five carries for 24 yards and one touchdown and three receptions for 36 yards and another touchdown — the most he has touched the ball in any game in his eight-year NFL career.
The Force wants to touch it some more.
"He has asked me from day one that he wants to be involved, carrying the ball," Gibbs said.
Sellers set the time of the request a little earlier.
"I have been begging and pleading before day one to get the ball," he said.
Sellers is so big for a back that it has been hard for coaches to wrap their heads around the idea that a big man can move as well as he can. But tacklers have a hard time wrapping their arms around him, and after the hit on Kennedy some may think twice about trying.
"I think the big thing about me is that I am so big that at first I think [Gibbs] didn't think I could run the ball and do the things I can do," Sellers said. "Gradually, I have to show him."
The Redskins have two pretty good running backs already in Clinton Portis, who had 72 yards on 18 carries, and Ladell Betts, who struggled yesterday with 22 yards on eight carries.
And Sellers has so much value as a blocker for those two that it is difficult to work him into the offense as a ball handler. But when you see what happened to Kennedy, it certainly has to be tempting.
"You worry about him carrying the ball because he carries such a big load for us," Gibbs said. "He plays on teams, he does a lot on offense for us, he plays tight end quite a bit when Chris [Cooley] is split out. He is a multifaceted guy for us. He loves to carry the football. Today we gave him some carries, and today he made the most of them.
"Obviously, we have two running backs we have a lot of faith in. Mike is such a great complement there. It really started out with short yardage stuff, but he did such a good job with short yardage that we kind of started expanding things with him."
Then Gibbs said the magic words, the reason he falls in love with certain players like Portis and Sellers: "He has that look during games."
It is the look of a player who is reminiscent of the old Redskins of Gibbs' first tenure, a player who bounced around from junior college to the Canadian Football League to the NFL, a player who got caught up a drug case before the charges were dropped, a player who didn't come to the place he is now by conventional means.
It is the look of a player who thinks like this: "I just want all the dirty work. I want all the hard stuff that most people can't get."
It is the look of The Force, and as Darth Vader once said, "Don't underestimate the Force."
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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