- The Washington Times - Friday, September 13, 2002

Few Redskins are as pumped for Monday's NFC East showdown with Philadelphia as Chris Samuels. That's because the offensive tackle will get his first shot this year at his toughest regular opponent, Eagles Pro Bowl defensive end Hugh Douglas.

Just as the Redskins and Eagles have split their series the past two seasons, so have the 6-foot-5, 303-pound Samuels who has the size advantage and the 6-2, 280-pound Douglas who has the edge in quickness.

Veteran Douglas indoctrinated rookie Samuels with two sacks in their first meeting in 2000, but the youngster rebounded to shut him out in their rematch. Samuels blanked Douglas in last year's first matchup before Douglas beat him for a sack the second time around.

"Hugh is my toughest guy year to year," Samuels said. "I don't know how fast he is in the 40, but he's quick. He's very low to the ground with great technique. He's a great leverage player. With me being so tall, if I play high, he'll get up under me and push me back to the quarterback.

"The first game of last season, he came with the bull rush," Samuels added. "That didn't work, so he changed it up, did a lot of finesse things. I was pretty much ready for him, but he got me with that one inside move. I jumped him a little too much and he beat me inside. I tried to recover but the fullback knocked me down and I couldn't get him."

No big deal(s)

Quarterback Shane Matthews is in his ninth season, but the Philadelphia game will be his first on Monday night. Not that he cares about the national spotlight.

"I don't care if we're playing on Tuesday night," Matthews said. "It's just another game."

Matthews was equally unimpressed about being voted NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his 28-of-40 accuracy, 327 yards and three touchdowns against Arizona. He earned similar acclaim last Oct.28 when he replaced injured Jim Miller and threw three touchdown passes to rally Chicago past San Francisco.

"I don't really worry about the individual stuff," Matthews said. "I wouldn't have been able to win that award if it wasn't for the wide receivers, the offensive line protecting me and Stephen running the ball well."

Matthews doesn't have such fond memories of his last game against the Eagles. He came off the bench to replace injured Bears starter Jim Miller in a divisional playoff game in January and completed eight of 17 for 66 yards with two interceptions.

"That Philly game, I don't even want to look at that thing," Matthews said. "It was ugly. I hadn't taken a rep for nine weeks with our offense."

Peace of mind

Long snapper Ethan Albright got some good news from the NFL Players Association, which said that next year he won't be constricted by a loophole in the recently restructured rules for veteran salaries.

Under the new rules, an eight-year veteran like Albright would make $650,000 but only count $450,000 against the cap. Albright, however, signed a three-year deal in 2001 and his signing bonus was too high to get the cap reduction. He was certain he would be released during the offseason, but he's still a Redskin. And now, next offseason Albright can be released and re-signed to take advantage of the reduction.

"The whole offseason, that was an issue for me," Albright said. "I didn't know until they announced the final roster what my situation was going to be. I may not know next year either but at least I know it won't be a money issue."

A great one

Redskins coach Steve Spurrier was among those mourning the loss of Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas, who died suddenly Wednesday at the age of 69.

"Johnny was a good person and a wonderful guy to be around," Spurrier said. "I actually played [for San Francisco] against Johnny in 1969 in Baltimore. We upset them [24-21], but they had a lot of players who were getting older and they didn't have a good year [8-5-1 vs. the 49ers 4-8-2]. Johnny was one of the best quarterbacks, if not the best. He was an excellent passer and field general. He could do it all."

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