- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 11, 2011

While Rex Grossman spread the ball around in the air, the running game was all about Tim Hightower. The Redskins rushed the ball 26 times, and Hightower got the call on 25 of those plays.

That’s exactly the way he likes it.

“I plan on that,” he said after Sunday’s 28-14 win. “I hate coming off the football field. I use my words wisely: I hate coming off the football field. I don’t like watching. I’m a team guy, but I like being that guy; I like the responsibility and putting the team on my back. That’s the kind of guy I am.”

Hightower wound up with 72 yards and a touchdown, and the Alexandria native was a bit frustrated by that lack of production.

But even though Hightower won’t make the list of fantasy football rushing leaders, his presence opened up the offense for the passing game. There’s a reason backup Roy Helu touched the ball only once, and it’s because of Hightower’s effectiveness.

“I’m doing whatever I’ve got to do,” Hightower said. “Sometimes it’s not always going to be where you want it to be, I’m just showing up, man — whether it’s receiving, whether it’s picking up blitzes, whatever it is, man — I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do.”

With coach Mike Shanahan noting — as always — that improvements are needed, players think the running game can be part of that, too.

Tim, he runs very hard. He’s hitting the hole hard,” tight end Fred Davis said. “It can do better, too. That’s the funny thing about it — we can still be better.”

Don’t expect Hightower to slow down either. Next week he and the Redskins face the team that traded him six weeks ago, the Arizona Cardinals.

“This one means a lot,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be an emotional day for me; it’ll be a record-setting day for me.”

Orakpo plays hurt

Brian Orakpo has developed into the face of the Redskins’ defense and one of the better pass-rushers in the league, so when he left the game in the first quarter there was reason for worry.

Orakpo sprained his right ankle on the first defensive series and missed the next one before returning heavily taped. He managed to play most of the rest of the game, but Shanahan was still concerned about his star outside linebacker.

“Initially I thought he was out for the game, so hopefully it’s not too bad,” Shanahan said.

Powell visits Redskins

Before he went out onto the field as the Redskins’ honorary captain on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell had another job — stepping inside the home locker room at FedEx Field as a source of inspiration.

Later on, taps played to the sound of wild cheers, and the pregame ceremony using clips from the Pentagon ceremony added to an already charged atmosphere.

“Colin Powell’s in the locker room giving you a pregame speech and then fans are chanting ‘U-S-A’, I was overwhelmed,” Grossman said. “It was fun day. It was a day I’ll never forget.”

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