- The Washington Times - Friday, October 8, 2004

Redskins Notes

One week after surrendering a season-high 96 yards to the Cleveland Browns’ rushing attack, the Washington Redskins will face a significantly stiffer challenge in the Baltimore Ravens and tailback Jamal Lewis.

The Redskins’ run defense, an admitted Achilles’ heel last season, continues to rank atop the NFL at 59.5 yards a game. But the unit struggled to contain unheralded rusher Lee Suggs in last week’s 17-13 loss to Cleveland, surrendering 82 yards and a touchdown to the former Virginia Tech star.

Assistant head for defense Gregg Williams accepted responsibility for some of his squad’s breakdowns against the Browns, saying, “I think I could have done a better job on a couple of calls where we were playing the pass … and they ran the football.”

Still, Williams generally has been pleased with his front seven’s performance through the first four games, especially considering the group has been without linebackers LaVar Arrington and Mike Barrow and defensive end Phillip Daniels.

None of the three will be in uniform Sunday night against the Ravens, leaving the rest of the defense to try to contain Lewis, whom Williams calls “the total package back.”

Lewis, who nearly broke Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record last year, is coming off a somewhat disappointing, 75-yard effort in Monday night’s loss to Kansas City. He’s also the subject of controversy after pleading guilty yesterday to federal drug charges; Lewis faces a possible four-game suspension by the NFL, but he’s almost certain to play against the Redskins.

Regardless, Ravens coach Brian Billick expects a challenge from Washington’s run defense.

“They’re very well-coordinated,” Billick said. “They’re very physical. They have a great deal of talent across the board, no apparent weakness. I’m very, very impressed with what I’ve seen on the team.”

LaVar: Don’t count me out

Despite the Redskins’ decision to declare him out for Sunday night’s game, Arrington still won’t rule out a miracle recovery from arthroscopic knee surgery.

“The knee is coming [along] — I feel a whole lot better,” said Arrington, who has missed the last two games after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus. “I’m still not counting myself out. I don’t care what the [injury report] says. I’m not counting myself out.”

Arrington, who has not practiced all week, said he was surprised to turn on his television Wednesday night and find out the Redskins had him listed as “out” on their injury report for the Baltimore game. The NFL’s injury rules state that a player listed as out “definitely will not play,” but the league does allow players’ statuses to be upgraded during the week, so Arrington technically would be allowed to play Sunday if healthy.

Don’t hold your breath, though. Even Arrington admits it’s a long shot and that he’ll comply with the advice of Washington’s training staff.

“They know what’s best,” he said. “So you’ve got to do what they say.”

Brown aims to return

Ray Brown has not missed a start because of injury in 107 games, a streak that dates to 1997, when the offensive lineman played for the San Francisco 49ers.

The 41-year-old tackle was knocked out of Sunday’s game, though, by a strained hamstring, leaving his streak in jeopardy heading into this week’s game. (Brown did not start the Redskins’ season opener, but he was healthy.)

Brown has sat out practices the last two days, though he remains optimistic he’ll be ready to go against the Ravens. The club is listing him as probable.

It hasn’t been easy for the veteran lineman to maintain his durability over the years, but he’s managed to keep his body in top shape despite his advancing age.

“Especially being an older player, I tend to worry if I have any type of leg injury,” said Brown, who is backed at right tackle by Kenyatta Jones. “So I’m going to be smart about it, work through it. Really, they’ve been pretty aggressive in my therapy. Hopefully, they’ll get me on the field Sunday.”

Extra points

In addition to Arrington and Brown, safety Andre Lott (hamstring), cornerback Shawn Springs (ankle) and defensive end Ron Warner (ankle) were held out of practice. Lott remains questionable for Sunday’s game; the rest are probable. Wide receiver Laveranues Coles, who is still dealing with a dislocated finger suffered two weeks ago, did not practice but is not listed on the injury report. …

The Redskins have been deemed the NFL’s “biggest disappointment” of the first quarter of the NFL season by SI.com, though the club’s 1-3 record hasn’t seemed to sour anyone on coach Joe Gibbs’ status. Online betting site Wageronsports.com lists Gibbs’ chances of being the league’s first coach to be fired or to resign at 75-1. That’s up from 25-1 at the start of the season.

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