- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Washington Redskins weren’t kidding when they said rookie Carlos Rogers was an impact player.

The ninth pick in April’s draft set up the game’s first touchdown with a 30-yard interception return but also was burned for the game-tying 45-yard catch as the Redskins met the Cincinnati Bengals in their preseason home opener last night.

“I knew they were going to come after me because I’m a rookie out there and they look on the other side and they see [veteran corner Shawn Springs],” Rogers said. “I feel good other than being a little winded. My ankle didn’t bother me.”

Rogers, starting in place of injured veteran Walt Harris, spent the first two weeks of training camp on the nonfootball injury list while recovering from a badly sprained ankle he suffered before minicamp in June. Rogers, whose foot was immobilized for a month, only began practicing Monday, so he had just three full sessions before taking the field against the talented Bengals offense.

However, the former Auburn star didn’t waste much time becoming a focus of the action. Rogers ended the Bengals’ second possession by running stride for stride with Pro Bowl receiver Chad Johnson on a pass from Carson Palmer that fell incomplete.

Rogers showed his inexperience on the next series, giving the Bengals new life with an illegal contact penalty on third-and-17 from the Washington 9-yard line. Six plays later, Rogers was fortunate not to be penalized again when he hit the sliding Palmer in the helmet. But two plays after that, Rogers stepped in front of Tony Stewart, picked off Palmer’s pass and dashed to the Cincinnati 25. Patrick Ramsey put Washington ahead with a strike to James Thrash on the next play.

“We were just in a cover-2 zone,” Rogers said of his interception. “I knew they drag the tight end to the back side and coming back, [Palmer] would never see me.”

Redskins assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams preferred Rogers over more highly touted rookie corners Antrel Rolle and Pacman Jones because the Augusta, Ga., native could hit as well as cover. Rogers proved that on the Bengals’ next drive, knocking the ball away from wideout T.J. Houshmandzadeh. But later, Rogers looked like an undrafted rookie instead of a player expected to be a Redskins fixture for the next decade.

After buying Johnson’s inside fake and being beaten for 8 yards on third-and-6, Rogers was burned on a go route by Houshmandzadeh. He was saved when the receiver dropped the sure touchdown. However, Rogers’ reprieve lasted all of one play. Kelley Washington ran the same deep pattern and easily hauled in a 45-yard scoring toss from Palmer with Rogers trailing.

Hall: No competition

Washington’s John Hall carries himself like a reigning Pro Bowl kicker, not one who missed half of last season with injuries to his right groin and quadriceps.

“I was kicking pretty well before all that happened, so I don’t feel like I have anything to prove,” the eight-year veteran said. “I don’t care what [fellow kicker Jeff Chandler] does. It’s not personal. I just don’t really feel like I’m in a competition. I’m just trying to do what I can do to help the team and get ready for a long season.”

The 31-year-old Hall certainly helped ensure his job by making both of his field goal attempts in the Aug. 6 scrimmage at Baltimore and in the Aug. 13 preseason opener at Carolina, while Chandler, who kicked in the final three games of 2004 after Hall went on injured reserve, missed both of his tries.

“I was happy with my kickoffs, but unfortunately I missed those field goals,” said Chandler, 26, who kicked for San Francisco (2002-2003) and Carolina (2004) before coming to Washington. “You only get so many opportunities, and you want to make the best out of them. I’m really happy with how I’m hitting the ball. I knew I had an uphill fight here, but I just have to do what I can. If it doesn’t work out here, hopefully it will work out somewhere else.”

Hall ended last night’s first half against Cincinnati with a 20-yard field goal to cut the Bengals’ lead to 14-10.

Hawkins still hurting

Artrell Hawkins, a former Bengals starter whom the Redskins signed June 23 to compete against Ade Jimoh, Garnell Wilds and Rufus Brown for the fourth cornerback spot, was downcast about not being able to face his old teammates because of a pulled left hamstring.

It was the second such disappointment in a week for the 28-year-old Hawkins, who suffered the injury in practice Aug. 2 and missed last week’s preseason opener at Carolina, his team in 2004.

“It’s frustrating,” said Hawkins, who played for Cincinnati from 1998 to 2003. “I had a lot of good years in Cincinnati, and I still live there in the offseason, so I see those guys all the time. Sometimes you don’t know when you hurt your hamstring, but this time there was a pop. There’s a knot in there about the size of my fist. I have to get back out there and show these guys that they have four starting cornerbacks [Shawn Springs, Walt Harris, Rogers and himself] so they can’t go wrong.”

Although Springs, Harris (who sat out last night with a strained calf), Rogers and Wilds have all been hurt, too, they haven’t been sidelined as long as Hawkins. Springs and Harris have proved themselves to the coaching staff, while Rogers was the Redskins’ top draft pick this year.

“It’s hurting Artrell because the longer he’s out, the less of a chance he’s going to have to make the team,” secondary coach Dewayne Walker said. “You’ve got to earn your spot. You’ve got Walt, Shawn and Carlos. The other guys are fighting for two spots.”

Hawkins and Harris were joined on the sideline last night by running back Clinton Portis (elbow); linebacker LaVar Arrington (knee); safeties Matt Bowen (knee), Ryan Clark (knee) and Tony Dixon (hamstring); defensive tackle Brandon Noble (knee); receiver Taylor Jacobs (toe); offensive tackle Mark Wilson (back); and punter Tom Tupa (back).

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