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After miscues, Doughty goes back to drawing board

- The Washington Times - Monday, September 12, 2011

The Washington Redskins' defense moved on from Sunday's 28-14 win over New York with much to feel good about after holding the Giants scoreless in the second half. Strong safety Reed Doughty, however, returned to work determined to improve on several costly miscues early in the game.

Doughty, a five-year veteran who started in place of the injured LaRon Landry, was highly critical of his play despite registering a game-high 10 tackles. He was victimized in the first quarter on a 68-yard completion that set up New York's first touchdown. The Giants scored their second on a run on which he was out of position.

Both resulted from mental lapses.

"I just have to focus," he said.

Coach Mike Shanahan on Monday said he hopes Landry (hamstring) is ready to practice Wednesday in preparation for Sunday's game against Arizona.

Count Doughty among those eager for Landry to return.

"Of course we'll be better - not just because he's in there but because we add an extra dynamic to special teams, to me coming in in different packages," he said. "We're better with LaRon on the field whether I'm in there or not."

On third-and-10 from the Giants' 30-yard line Sunday, receiver Hakeem Nicks ran a double move that fooled Doughty.

Nicks cut from the right toward the middle of the field, and Doughty stepped toward him from his high safety position. But when Doughty stepped up, Nicks turned upfield and got behind him.

"I have the 'dig,' and I have the 'dig-and-up,' " Doughty said. "It's really about following him with my eyes through the break. If you watch it, he runs the dig. He runs two steps and looks back at the quarterback. At that point the ball hasn't been thrown. I probably should have [kept] my eyes on him one more step.

"If it was a dig, I would've [intercepted] the ball and I would've looked great. That's not what it was. Really, it's the technique of that situation."

On Ahmad Bradshaw's 6-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, Doughty was caught out of position too far to the outside. Bradshaw cut back inside Doughty and scored easily.

"They kept throwing what we call a 'smoke' out there," he said. "So I kind of jumped out for that smoke route, and it was a run. You've got to come inside-out in that situation. You'd rather the ball bounce [outside] than cut up inside. That's no excuse. You have to make a play."

One-man show in backfield

Running back Tim Hightower had 25 of the Redskins' 26 rushing attempts. Such a high percentage was a bit surprising, considering Shanahan is known for deploying running backs by committee.

Whether Hightower continues to handle so much of the load is uncertain.

"It all depends on the game plan ... on what we're asking them to do, how much running, the length of drives," Shanahan said.

Ryan Torain, who entered training camp as the first-string running back, did not play. Hightower passed him on the depth chart while he was sidelined with a broken left hand in early August. Rookie Roy Helu took the one carry that Hightower didn't.

"It's never fun sitting on the sideline," said Torain, who rushed for 742 yards in 10 games last season. "Tim's the man, and if the coaches want to make a change, they will."

Extra points

c Fullback Mike Sellers was inactive, the first time he's been a healthy scratch since joining the Redskins in 2004. Shanahan said the decision to deactivate him resulted from Sellers being low on the tight end and fullback depth charts. "When he doesn't play, he's still supporting his teammates," Shanahan said. "A lot of guys aren't smart enough mentally to take that."

c Shanahan said he won't talk to kicker Graham Gano about the 39-yard field goal attempt he missed. Gano made all 10 of his preseason attempts to secure the job, but Sunday's miss was a setback. "I think he knows he has to concentrate, and next time you give him the opportunity he'll make it."

c Linebacker Brian Orakpo sprained his right ankle but returned to the game. Shanahan hopes he'll practice Wednesday. Tight end Chris Cooley was thrilled with how his ailing left knee responded to his first game action of the season. He discarded his knee brace Thursday.

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