- The Washington Times - Monday, November 30, 2009

PHILADELPHIA | With Chris Cooley and Clinton Portis sidelined long-term, the Washington Redskins needed their second-year pass-catchers to produce like high draft choices. On Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field against the Philadelphia Eagles, Devin Thomas, Fred Davis and Malcolm Kelly did just that.

The Redskins blew an eight-point fourth-quarter lead and lost 27-24, but Thomas, Davis and Kelly combined for 10 catches, 139 yards and a touchdown. That’s a striking contrast with their rookie seasons, when they teamed for just 21 catches and 165 yards and never found the end zone.

“They’re more comfortable with what’s going on in the offense,” said quarterback Jason Campbell, whose 10-yard touchdown toss to Davis gave Washington a 21-16 lead midway through the third quarter. “They’re not just going to the line every time thinking about what they have to do. They know what to do, so now a lot of their physical abilities are starting to come out.”

Those abilities were evident when Kelly beat Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel deep for a 27-yard gain early in the second quarter to set up Campbell’s touchdown toss to Santana Moss two plays later.

“No doubt, this was our best game,” Kelly said. “We had opportunities to make plays. When your number is called, you come through and make plays. We had a little bit more opportunities today.”

Indeed, Campbell threw 17 of his 37 passes toward those young guns.

“Give Jason time, and we’ll make plays,” Davis said. “That’s what we came here for.”

Philadelphia certainly has brought out the best in the trio, which was arguably more productive the last game against the Eagles - 11 catches, 113 yards, two touchdowns in Week 7 at home.

“It’s promising for the future,” Thomas said. “We’re just trying to step up, trying to be the guy to make a play that will help us win the game.”

Gray won’t talk Tigers

Secondary coach Jerry Gray, who lost his bid to become the coach at Memphis, declined to comment on the development, just as he did last week when he was the leading candidate for the job.

“You know I can’t talk about that,” Gray said, walking away.

The Tigers introduced alumnus Larry Porter as their coach Sunday.

Jarmon sprains knee

Rookie defensive end Jeremy Jarmon left the game with a sprained knee in the second quarter. Cornerback Fred Smoot departed in the fourth quarter with a head injury. And Mike Sellers suffered a low-ankle sprain late in the game, but the fullback said he was OK.

All-Pro defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth was inactive for a second straight game with the sprained left ankle he suffered two weeks earlier against the Denver Broncos. Kedric Golston started again in Haynesworth’s place.

Rookie cornerback Kevin Barnes, a third-round draft choice from Maryland, was active for the first time, joining college teammates Stephon Heyer and Edwin Williams, who made up the right side of Washington’s offensive line.

Early surprise

Philadelphia started the game with a surprise onside kick by David Akers that the Redskins turned into a 25-yard return by Quinton Ganther and eventually a 7-0 lead.

Ganther was a part of the front line to Akers’ right. The Eagles touched the ball before it went the required 10 yards, but Ganther was able to collect the kick and rumble down the sideline.

“I didn’t necessarily see it in [Akers’] approach to the ball,” Ganther said. “They always say don’t leave until the ball is kicked. That was a big play because it allowed us to put some points on the board first.”

Said special teams coach Danny Smith: “We drill it, and we practice it. It was good awareness and a good way to start the game.”

The Redskins cashed in on the recovery with Campbell’s 1-yard touchdown run, the offense’s third opening-drive touchdown of the year.

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