- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 24, 2001

Washington Redskins offensive tackle Chris Samuels steps back into the spotlight this weekend for a high-profile matchup against Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Hugh Douglas.

The dominant young left tackle usually doesn't attract much attention for the ironic reason that opposing right ends often the opposing defense's top pass rusher generally have such quiet games against him.

It's only when Samuels encounters a premier sack artist that people notice. And Douglas certainly qualifies.

The seventh-year veteran leads the Eagles' sixth-ranked defense with 71/2 sacks. He is duplicating his impact of last year, when he recorded 15 sacks (fourth in the NFL) and was named to his first Pro Bowl.

Two of last season's sacks came against Samuels in a Week 6 battle at Veterans Stadium, the site of tomorrow's game between the Redskins (4-5) and Eagles (6-3). Samuels suffered a severely bruised knee that day and gave up the first two sacks of his NFL career. But he shut out Douglas in the Week 13 rematch, and overall he has surrendered perhaps five sacks since being the third overall pick of the 2000 draft.

Samuels considers Douglas the toughest end he will face all season and freely admits to making extra preparations for the battle.

"Douglas is the man," Samuels said yesterday. "I respect Hugh Douglas. I respect his game. I'm going to watch the film from last year the first game and the second game."

Douglas' edge comes from the power he brings to the right end position. Whereas most weakside ends are known for speed and agility, Douglas also has the power to upend opposing blockers.

"He's just a different style of a defensive end," Samuels said. "He's athletic, but he's more of a power guy. He likes to get up under you. He's real strong, and he likes to use a lot of leverage."

Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer considers Douglas one of those defensive players an offense constantly must take into account.

"Yeah, so is [Eagles middle linebacker Jeremiah] Trotter," Schottenheimer said. "They're both really outstanding players. The thing you notice about both of those players is when the day's over, they've got nothing left. They're both spent. They exert so much energy on every single play."

Samuels has performed well in his second season, helping key a stable and tough offensive line. He has dropped 30 pounds from his rookie year, allowing him to keep up with speed rushers without losing strength. Ultimately he and right tackle Jon Jansen have played to their "bookends" label.

Meanwhile, Samuels has increased his presence on the team by becoming someone players look to for motivation and enthusiasm. Although Samuels is careful not to overstep his leadership role deferring to veteran players he has become a key Redskin.

"The main thing is, I try to lead by example on the field," Samuels said. "I think that's the most important thing. You can have somebody preaching and preaching, but if they're not making any plays nobody's going to listen. I'm trying to step up and become a leader, but I don't want to step on any toes."

An interesting offshoot of that role is Darrell Green's passing of the "Mr. Redskin" title. Whereas Green leads the Redskins on the field, in the locker room and in the community, in coming seasons that role will fall to Samuels, who considers his Ashburn townhouse his year-round residence.

"I wouldn't say he's passed me the torch yet," Samuels said of the veteran cornerback, who will retire after the season. "I definitely want it, but I'm not lined up where I need to be to receive it. We're working on it, though."

Before accepting the honor, Samuels believes he has to get his religious life in order. He says his piety can't match that of Green or Samuels' mother, Shirley, a pastor in the Mobile, Ala., area, where Samuels grew up. Nonetheless, Green feels safe leaving his legacy with the humble young lineman.

"I hope I can find 30 or 40 more Chris Samuels," Green said. "Chris is the one who initiated the conversation. He said, 'I really appreciate what you've done, and I would like to follow you.' If I can leave that, then this has been certainly worth it."

Of course, becoming "Mr. Redskin" is a lifelong goal. In the meantime, there are pressing tasks, such as shutting down Douglas.

"Hopefully I'll go out there and get the job done," Samuels said. "He might make some plays; I know I'm going to make some plays. I'm really not going to speak out and say I'm going to dominate him or anything, but I'll sure try."

Note Quarterback Tony Banks, tight end Stephen Alexander and kickoff returner Michael Bates are expected to play. In fact, notwithstanding the dislocated kneecap of reserve offensive lineman Matt Campbell, this is the healthiest Washington has been all season.

"Unlike the past few weeks, we'll have to work to come up with the seven inactives," Schottenheimer said.

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