- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 24, 2003

Washington Redskins running back Trung Canidate scored his second rushing touchdown of the preseason last night and appeared to extend his lead in the race to start.

Although Canidate averaged 2.5 yards in the 24-3 win over the Baltimore Ravens, his eight rushes for 20 yards included several impressive bursts.

The first was a 6-yarder on third-and-3, setting up his scoring run two plays later. On the former, Canidate went up the middle, and his second effort saved the offense from settling for a field goal. On the latter, he sprang through a hole off-tackle right and waltzed into the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown.

“I wanted to get a feel for my linemen so I could get my running reads down,” Canidate said. “Overall, I just want to make sure I get better every day.”

Acquired in an offseason trade with St. Louis, Canidate entered training camp with plenty of questions, among them whether he has the toughness to be an NFL starter and whether he can hang on to the ball.

Although he hasn’t dominated three preseason games, he seems to have answered those questions well enough while his competitors have failed to keep pace.

Ladell Betts made his much-anticipated preseason debut last night but picked up 5 yards on three carries in the starters-vs.-starters action of the first half. Betts finished with six rushes for 10 yards.

A sprained elbow caused Betts to sit out the first two exhibitions. Club officials had been excited to see him get on the field after a strong offseason, but he now appears too far behind Canidate to still have a chance to start.

Kenny Watson rushed two times for 3 yards — both during the first half — after entering as the Redskins’ preseason leader with 65 rushing yards.

“Trung made some very nice runs in there,” coach Steve Spurrier said. “It’s hard to get all those guys a whole bunch of carries. But they’re all doing well. … We’ve got another game to play before we make all those decisions.”

Spurrier continued to experiment with fullback Rock Cartwright as a short-yardage tailback. Cartwright converted three fourth downs last week in a loss to New England, but last night he was stopped for no gain on third-and-1. He also picked up 2 yards from a one-back set on first down.

Return man Chad Morton also got a first-half carry, gaining 11 yards in the second quarter when he took advantage of some nice blocking up the middle and shook safety Chad Williams.

D-line holds up

The Redskins’ new-look defensive line did a solid job in the first half, when defensive tackles Jermaine Haley and Bernard Holsey got their first start in tandem.

Haley moved from the starting “three-technique” spot on the outside edge of the guard to his more natural nose tackle position to compensate for last week’s season-ending knee injury to Brandon Noble. Holsey, signed just before camp as a rotation guy, was elevated to first string.

The two held their ground, which is pretty much all that’s expected from them. Washington found itself in this predicament after failing to re-sign Daryl Gardener, cutting Dan Wilkinson because he refused to take a pay cut and then absorbing the gruesome injury to Noble.

Haley and Holsey filled the middle, while Washington’s starting linebackers, with nine Pro Bowls between them, made a host of plays. Also, starting left end Renaldo Wynn, a good but not great player last year, continued his impressive preseason by stuffing running back Jamal Lewis on Baltimore’s second offensive play.

“Holsey and Jermaine played great,” Wynn said. “I know the linebackers were saying that the interior guys kept the offensive linemen off them. They were able to make plays without even having a hand on them. When you’ve got linebackers telling you that, you’re definitely doing your job.”

The Redskins did get a sack from the defensive tackle position, but it came from end Peppi Zellner in the third-down set. Coordinator George Edwards has been using Wynn and Zellner inside in the nickel set, with Bruce Smith and Regan Upshaw at the ends.

Smith, meanwhile, got the start at right end even though Upshaw, the season’s anticipated first-stringer, made his first preseason appearance.

Upshaw had been sidelined the first two exhibitions while his rehabilitation from arthroscopic knee surgery took longer than expected. Upshaw estimated that he got about two dozen plays.

“I got enough to get tired,” Upshaw said with a laugh. “I’m happy. I look at all the positive things. There’s some little things I’ve got to work on, but most of all it was a good time for the first time out.”

Injury update

Haley sprained his ankle, and his status will be updated today. The injury did not appear serious. … Rookie wide receiver Taylor Jacobs sprained his shoulder. X-rays were negative, and both he and Spurrier said he could have returned if it were a regular-season game. … Cornerback Alex Molden suffered a concussion in the third quarter. He said he only got “dinged” and expects to practice tomorrow. … Quarterbacks Danny Wuerffel and Gibran Hamdan both saw action in the fourth quarter. Wuerffel sat out the New England game, while Hamdan did not play in the preseason opener at Carolina. … The crowd of 70,460 was a Redskins preseason record.

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