- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Rock Cartwright’s best game might have earned him a surprising promotion.

Washington Redskins coach Steve Spurrier said yesterday he is considering starting Cartwright at tailback this week at Carolina after the stocky fullback ran so effectively in Sunday’s 27-20 win over Seattle.

“Certainly we’re going to give consideration to starting Rock,” Spurrier said. “That may be, in fact, the way we need to go this week. It may be, but we’ll talk about it as we go.”

Despite never getting more than eight rushing attempts since he was in high school, Cartwright became the Redskins’ feature back in the second half of Sunday’s victory. With starter Trung Canidate struggling in his first game back from a sprained ankle and with Ladell Betts, Chad Morton and Sultan McCullough all sidelined with injuries, Cartwright wound up carrying the ball 13 times for 81 yards.

Washington called upon the 5-foot-7, 223-pound back numerous times on its game-winning drive, and he responded by converting a crucial fourth-and-1 and later breaking several tackles on a 21-yard gain up the middle.

“We thought he’d run well,” Spurrier said. “Breaking tackles is something that all truly great running backs can do. A real good running back has got to break some tackles, and Rock was the guy doing it yesterday.”

Cartwright hasn’t been given an opportunity to run the ball with any regularity since his days at Conroe (Texas) High School. He doesn’t recall getting more than eight rushing attempts in a game while at Kansas State, and in the first 23 games of his NFL career, he racked up 18 carries.

Though he isn’t campaigning for a promotion in the wake of Sunday’s performance, Cartwright sounds like he would relish the opportunity.

“If they want to give me the ball, that would be great,” he said. “If they want me to go back to fullback, I’m willing to do whatever. Just as long as we win.”

For the season, Cartwright has 36 rushes for 155 yards (a 4.3-yard average). Canidate leads the team with 77 carries and 329 yards (also a 4.3-yard average), while Betts (74 and 244, a 3.3-yard average) was struggling before fracturing his left forearm three weeks ago.

Bowen OK after concussion

Safety Matt Bowen pronounced himself ready to return yesterday after suffering a concussion late in the first quarter of Sunday’s game.

“I feel a lot better today,” said Bowen, who sat out the rest of the game following his injury. “I’ve had concussions before and played the next week. I think I’ll be fine.”

Bowen, a notorious hard-hitter, got his bell rung while tackling Seahawks fullback Mack Strong at the 1-yard line. He never lost consciousness and remained on the sideline for the rest of the first half, but doctors wouldn’t let him back on the field.

“Oh, I tried to argue,” Bowen said. “You always try to argue. Any time you’re a player, you try to get back in. But they’re doctors. They went to medical school. I went to journalism school. They know more than I do. I listened to them, and they made the right call. As much as I wanted to be out there, I wasn’t focused enough to make my checks and be in the right position.”

Spurrier said Bowen likely will be held out of practice early this week, after which time a determination will be made whether he can play Sunday against the Panthers.

Other injuries

Bowen wasn’t the only Redskins player to suffer a concussion on Sunday. Fullback Bryan Johnson also took a hit to the head late in the game and had to be held out of part of Washington’s final drive. Like Bowen, Johnson will sit out practice early this week until it is determined when he can return.

Andre Lott, who replaced Bowen at safety, sprained his left ankle during the game but was able to continue playing. He was walking around in a protective boot yesterday and Spurrier said he was in “good shape.”

Among those players who sat out Sunday’s game because of injury, scat back Chad Morton (high ankle sprain) is the most likely to return this week. Morton tested the ankle on the field before the game and hopes to return to practice in coming days.

The prognosis isn’t as good for center Larry Moore (sprained foot), who Spurrier said remains doubtful. Lennie Friedman made his first start at center and received positive reviews.

Betts also remains doubtful to return this week.

Extra points

Darrell Russell hasn’t had much impact on the Redskins’ defensive line in his first two games. The tackle, whom Washington signed to a two-year, $1.3 million contract, has been on the field for about 20 plays in each of his games.

“I thought he was going to play more,” Spurrier said. “We need to get him into condition because his conditioning is not the greatest. Hopefully, he can play more than 20 plays.” …

Backup quarterback Tim Hasselbeck didn’t get to play Sunday against his brother, Matt, but the two did get to share a nice moment on the field after the game.

“I felt bad for him,” Tim said, “but I told him we needed a win more than they did.”


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