- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 24, 2005

Call Carlos Rogers the Washington Redskins’ amen corner.

The 23-year-old from Augusta, Ga., home of the Masters and the storied “Amen Corner,” expects to be the answer to the Redskins’ prayers for a top-flight corner to replace departed free agent Fred Smoot. In fact, Rogers, who knows his history when it comes to Redskins cornerbacks, expects to be more than just your run-of-the-mill NFL starter.

“I’m a guy with a lot of confidence,” said the 6-foot, 199-pound Rogers, whom the Redskins took with the ninth pick in yesterday’s NFL Draft. “Smoot, Champ Bailey, Darrell Green. I’m going to try to not only replace those guys, but to do better.”

That’s a pretty lofty goal given Smoot’s four solid years as a starter, Bailey’s four Pro Bowls in his five seasons before being traded to Denver and Green’s seven Pro Bowls in a record-setting career that should be capped by Hall of Fame election.

Rogers, however, is used to beating the odds. He might have been named the nation’s top defensive back as a senior at Auburn, but there were a couple of bumps on his road to the Redskins.

A standout tailback and cornerback at Butler High School in Augusta, Rogers didn’t qualify academically at Auburn and had to spend a year at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va.

“The military atmosphere, having somebody in your face, it was kind of tough at first, but I got used to it,” Rogers said. “It was a different path for me, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. People got down on me saying, ‘He’s not going to be this or that.’ It was just a little curve in the road that I had to get around.”

There’s no getting around the success Rogers had at Auburn, which he chose over Georgia in part because the Tigers’ coaches did a better job courting his family. He started right away in 2001 and was named a Freshman All-American by the Sporting News. After a down junior year, Rogers rebounded to beat fellow top 10 picks Adam “Pacman” Jones and Antrel Rolle for the Jim Thorpe Award as a senior.

And unlike many teams, the Redskins had Rogers ahead of Jones and Rolle on their draft board.

“I’m sure different people would have picked different corners,” Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said. “We love those other two guys, too. Carlos was the guy from the very beginning we felt gave you everything. He’s got size. He’s got speed. And he’s physical. We’re going to be matched up with some big receivers.”

Terrell Owens, Plaxico Burress and Keyshawn Johnson, all at least 6-foot-3, will face the Redskins twice each.

And while Gibbs praised holdover nickel back Walt Harris, a longtime starter for Chicago and Indianapolis, and said that Rogers won’t be handed the job, top 10 draft picks are supposed to start.

“We got a shutdown corner,” Gibbs said. “[That] allows the defense to do a lot of other things.”

Rogers can run 40 yards in 4.44 seconds, but his biggest asset is probably his explosiveness, a critical skill for corners who are often battling a receiver one-on-one.

“I like [coaches] saying, ‘You’ve got this guy, handle him for the day,’” Rogers said. “That’s a challenge I’m looking forward to. Whether I’m at corner or nickel, I know they’re coming at me.”

Rogers had a pretty good idea Washington would be coming after him following his visit to Redskin Park earlier this month. He watched the players work out on the field and was invited into the defensive meeting room in order for the coaches to gauge his reaction to the film of the session and get a feel for his football smarts.

Rogers’ only disappointment was learning safety Sean Taylor has claimed Smoot’s old No. 21, leaving No. 32 for the rookie.

“I really wanted to be there,” said Rogers, whose Auburn teammates nicknamed him “Cash” because of his taste for an expensive lifestyle. “I loved my visit. I loved the coaching staff, the atmosphere there. It’s something I really felt comfortable about. This is a really good scheme for me. I was looking forward to being a Redskin.”

So much so that Gibbs said Rogers called assistant head coach/defense Gregg Williams eight times last week to make sure that the Redskins were still interested in him.

“He was recruiting us,” Gibbs said, laughing.

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