- The Washington Times - Friday, August 17, 2001

CARLISLE, Pa. The Washington Redskins seek redemption. They may settle for respect.

The Redskins play host to the Atlanta Falcons (1-1) tonight at FedEx Field after a humiliating 20-0 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Sunday's preseason opener. Although coach Marty Schottenheimer is more concerned about developing players than winning preseason games, another blowout defeat might sustain the malaise throughout training camp this week.

"We need to get a little confidence going offensively," tight end Stephen Alexander said. "I don't think we're throwing a full head of steam. Once we get everybody out there, we'll be ready to go."

The Redskins are still missing injured quarterback Jeff George (shoulder) and defensive end Bruce Smith (shoulder), but they regain defensive end Marco Coleman (back) and Alexander (hamstring). The quartet was sorely missed against the Chiefs, so even the return of two should help against the Falcons.

"Hopefully, my presence can make a difference," said Coleman, a 2000 Pro Bowl choice. "We have to understand that during the course of a game anybody can go out and others have to step up and perform."

Whether backup quarterback Todd Husak starts is the offensive key. Husak practiced the past two days with a strained rib muscle, but the team won't make a final decision until this morning. Husak will play the first quarter if his condition didn't worsen overnight. Otherwise, third-stringer Sage Rosenfels will play the opening three quarters.

Husak played unevenly against the Chiefs, completing only three of 10 passes for 27 yards with one interception. However, the offensive line provided little protection, allowing among other things a blindside sack. Still, Husak has worked regularly with the starters for much of camp and would be a decided upgrade over fourth-rounder Rosenfels.

"I don't think I need to be out there for myself," Husak said. "I need to be out there because I need to help this team win. I've shown I can be a good quarterback in this league. The last game didn't go very well, but looking at the film I thought I did a fairly good job with what we had to work with. I'm confident, and the coaches are confident in me."

Rosenfels will play at least the second and third quarters. After completing seven of 17 for 41 yards against the Chiefs reserves, he'll play with and against starters for at least one quarter. Schottenheimer has urged patience with Rosenfels, calling him a "prospect." Rosenfels struggled during recent practices after making steady progress earlier in camp.

"You see almost zero rookies come out here and rip it up," Schottenheimer said. "Even the great ones like Peyton Manning struggle. He was the first pick of the draft. It takes months and months."

George said Rosenfels must avoid being overwhelmed by the game's speed. Otherwise, the offense will have no cohesion.

"You're so overwhelmed by what the other team is doing to you that you lose track of what we're trying to do and you forget the offense," George said. "The physical part of it will come in time. The main thing is to have a mental picture of everything."

Defensively, the Redskins allowed 412 yards against the Chiefs and will now face elusive rookie quarterback Michael Vick for at least part of the game. The Redskins showed no pass rush against the Chiefs, but Coleman's return after 12 sacks last season should give Washington some push on at least one side.

Kansas City delivered an overall thumping, rushing for 127 yards and passing for 285. The Redskins were troubled by the inside run defense, but also were vulnerable to both short and long passes. The Chiefs completed eight passes for 11 or more yards, five in one series. Cornerback Donovan Greer starts over Darrell Green in a preplanned move as the two compete for the starting spot opposite Champ Bailey.

Washington spent much time on special teams in recent days after Kansas City scored on a 92-yard punt return. The coverage unit, one of the team's bigger problems over the past two years, has been infused with several solid coverage players. The team has also worked regularly on onside kicks after kicking off just once in the opener.

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