- The Washington Times - Monday, September 15, 2003

ATLANTA — Twice in the first half yesterday it appeared the Atlanta Falcons defense got the better of Redskins receiver Laveranues Coles, causing him to stay on the ground for a while after he took direct blows to the head.

However, he bounced off the Georgia Dome turf each time, returned to the game and continued to torment the Falcons secondary.

Coles’ most significant catch came in the fourth quarter when he badly beat Falcons cornerback Ray Buchanan for a 19-yard touchdown, which gave the Redskins an 33-24 lead with 2:32 to play. After running through the corner of the end zone, he tried to slow himself, ran off the synthetic turf field, slipped on concrete, crashed into a metal gate separating the field and the visitors tunnel and was slow to get up.

“Oh yeah, that was so embarrassing,” Coles said.

No, it’s the Falcons’ defense that should be embarrassed.

He caught a career-high 11 passes for a career-high 180 yards and one touchdown. After two games, the Redskins’ $35million man, is proving he is worth every penny. For the second consecutive game, Coles was the Redskins’ leading receiver.

He has quickly established himself as quarterback Patrick Ramsey’s go-to man when the Redskins need to hit a big play downfield.

However, the speedy receiver, generously listed at 5-foot-11, 193 pounds, took a beating going across the middle. He was kneed in the head by Falcons nickel back Kevin McCadam after he caught a pass for 16 yards and a first down with 2:30 left in the first quarter. He missed the next two plays.

A third-quarter crossing pattern felled Coles again after he snagged a 23-yard pass for a first down that helped set up wide receiver Rod Gardner’s tying score with 9:52 left in the period.

“It was a semi-knockout, but he sure catches everything that hits his hands right now,” Redskins coach Steve Spurrier said.

Coles was the biggest of the Redskins’ offseason free-agent signings when they plundered the New York Jets and signed Coles, kicker John Hall, right guard Randy Thomas and return specialist Chad Morton. Coles also cost the Redskins a first-round selection in April’s NFL Draft.

Spurrier wanted to acquire a deep threat and now he has one.

After two games, Coles has 16 receptions for 286 yards and one touchdown and is averaging an eye-opening 17.9 yards a catch.

“He’s incredibly tough and incredibly special, he’s a great receiver,” Ramsey said. “He’s a super addition and I can’t be prouder to have him on our football team, as a teammate, as a man, and as a player.”

Coles runs clean, precise routes. A lot of what he does with Ramsey is strictly timing patterns, and after the catch Coles’ speed — he runs a 4.32 in the 40 — takes over.

After the game, Coles and Ramsey, who completed a career-high 25 passes for 356 yards and two touchdowns, received game balls for their performances. Veteran Redskins linebacker Jessie Armstead suggested that Coles is tough enough to play linebacker because he boldly goes over the middle and tends to get his bell rung. Still, he lifts himself back up.

“I’m just glad for my teammates because I want to win just as bad as they want to win,” Coles said.

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