- 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.

“We were just in a cover-2 zone,” Rogers said. “I saw the receiver [Tony Stewart] coming from the other side. I recognized that play from practice. The quarterback didn’t see me, and I picked it.”

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 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.

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 when Cincinnati got the ball back, 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.

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