- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 13, 2009

KEY MATCHUP

REDSKINS DE ANDRE CARTER vs. RAIDERS LT MARIO HENDERSON

Carter is having by far his best year since coming to the Redskins in 2006. He’s one sack from double digits for the third time, and his 50 tackles leave him seven shy of a career high.

Benefiting from having Albert Haynesworth lined up next to him, Carter has consistently taken advantage of one-on-one matchups. The Redskins’ coaches have credited Carter with a team-high 42 quarterback hurries.

The matchup against Oakland will be a homecoming for Carter, who grew up in Northern California, attended Cal and started his career with San Francisco. But he won’t have Haynesworth along for the ride; Haynesworth’s bulky ankle injury will cause him to miss his third game in four weeks.

Henderson is a 6-foot-7, 300-pounder who’s in his first year as a full-time starter. The Raiders have allowed 33 sacks, but new quarterback Bruce Gradkowski is more mobile than the benched JaMarcus Russell.

THREE KEYS

1. Force the Raiders to pass

Although Oakland passed for 287 yards last week against Pittsburgh, it still ranks last in passing yards per game (143.2) and has failed to reach 100 yards four times. If the Redskins can win on first down, they can use their pass rush to harass quarterback Bruce Gradkowski.

2. Continued pass protection

The Redskins’ maligned offensive line has allowed only two sacks in the past three games - which includes more than 110 Jason Campbell drop-backs. Oakland has 25 sacks; the Redskins must account for defensive ends Greg Ellis (five sacks) and Richard Seymour (four).

3. Ganther’s chance

Quinton Ganther will become the fourth running back to start for the Redskins this season. It will be his first NFL start - he has only 28 career carries - and he gets to challenge the Raiders’ 30th-ranked rush defense, which is allowing 4.6 yards per carry.

THE EDGE

WHEN THE REDSKINS HAVE THE BALL

For the first time in months, the Washington offense has an advantage over the opponent’s defense. Led by Jason Campbell’s 367-yard passing day, the Redskins last week reached 30 points for the first time in coach Jim Zorn’s tenure and gained a season high 455 yards against New Orleans. Oakland is 29th in yards allowed and 30th in rush defense, but where the Redskins can really take advantage is against a secondary surrendering 13.7 yards per completion (second-worst in the league). The Raiders will play their traditional press coverage, so it will be up to the receivers to create separation at the snap.

Edge: Redskins

WHEN THE RAIDERS HAVE THE BALL

Oakland struggled to reach 100 passing yards when JaMarcus Russell was its starting quarterback, but journeyman Bruce Gradkowski has won two of his three starts and gained 396 yards in last week’s upset of Pittsburgh. The Raiders’ best receiver is tight end Zach Miller, who has 43 catches for 611 yards and two touchdowns. The Redskins will have to check him with rookie Brian Orakpo or safety Reed Doughty. Oakland probably thinks it can run on the Redskins, who allow 4.2 yards per carry and have given up at least 100 yards in all but two games. Expect a big day by the Redskins’ pass rush.

Edge: Redskins

SPECIAL TEAMS

If it weren’t for all-world punter Shane Lechler, the Raiders might have the worst special teams in the league. They’re last in punt returns (3.0-yard average), last in kickoff returns (18.0) and 30th in kickoff coverage (25.2). Lechler’s 44.4-yard net average is by far the best in the league. The Redskins will break in rookie kicker Graham Gano, last seen winning the UFL championship for Las Vegas. Both coverage teams rank in the top six (only Baltimore and Houston also can boast that).

Edge: Redskins

- Ryan O’Halloran

REDSKINS

STARTERS

Offense

WR89Santana Moss

WR11Devin Thomas

WR12Malcolm Kelly

LT76Levi Jones

LG66Derrick Dockery

C61Casey Rabach

RG71Mike Williams

RT74Stephon Heyer

TE86Fred Davis

RB35Quinton Ganther

QB17Jason Campbell

Defense

DE99Andre Carter

DT96Cornelius Griffin

DT64Kedric Golston

DE93Phillip Daniels

OLB52Rocky McIntosh

MLB59London Fletcher

OLB98Brian Orakpo

CB27Fred Smoot

CB22Carlos Rogers

FS30LaRon Landry

SS37Reed Doughty

Specialists

K4Graham Gano

P3Hunter Smith

PR82Antwaan Randle El

KR11Devin Thomas

KR34Byron Westbrook

Injuries

Out: CB DeAngelo Hall (knee), DT Albert Haynesworth (ankle) and FB Mike Sellers (thigh).

Questionable: DE Phillip Daniels (knee), DT Cornelius Griffin (knee) and RT Stephon Heyer (knee).

Probable: CB Justin Tryon (hip) and OG Edwin Williams (illness).

RAIDERS

STARTERS

Offense

WR12Darrius Heyward-Bey

WR18Louis Murphy

LT75Mario Henderson

LG51Chris Morris

C64Samson Satele

RG66Cooper Carlisle

RT74Cornell Green

TE80Zach Miller

FB22Gary Russell

RB29Michael Bush

QB5Bruce Gradkowski

Defense

DE92Richard Seymour

DT93Tommy Kelly

DT61Gerard Warren

DE99Greg Ellis

OLB54Sam Williams

MLB52Kirk Morrison

OLB53Thomas Howard

CB37Chris Johnson

CB21Nnamdi Asomugha

FS31Hiram Eugene

SS33Tyvon Branch

Specialists

K11Sebastian Janikowski

P9Shane Lechler

PR15Johnnie Lee Higgins

KR23Jonathan Holland

Injuries

Out: OG Robert Gallery (back) and WR Nick Miller (shin).

Doubtful: WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (foot).

Questionable: DE Greg Ellis (knee) and C Samson Satele (calf).

Probable: DT Desmond Bryant (back)

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