- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Washington’s superior defense finally got a shutout yesterday. Shut out of the Pro Bowl that is.

Even though the Redskins have allowed the NFC’s fourth-fewest points and fifth-fewest yards, not one member of the defense was chosen to represent the conference in Hawaii on Feb.12.

Washington’s lower-rated offense is sending receiver Santana Moss and left tackle Chris Samuels to Hawaii.

Outside linebacker Marcus Washington, the Redskins’ only Pro Bowl player last year, was a second alternate this time behind Tampa Bay’s Derrick Brooks, Chicago’s Lance Briggs and Atlanta’s Keith Brooking. Safety Sean Taylor, a first alternate in 2004, was a second alternate behind Dallas’ Roy Williams, Chicago’s Mike Brown and Minnesota’s Darren Sharper, while cornerback Shawn Springs, a third alternate last year, was ignored.

“Sometimes things happen that you don’t understand: [boxer] Roy Jones losing in the [1988] Olympics in Seoul, Sam Bowie going before Michael Jordan [in the 1984 NBA Draft],” Washington said.

Right end Phillip Daniels said the defense can use the snub as extra motivation for Saturday’s game with the NFC East-leading New York Giants (10-4). The Redskins (8-6) can clinch their first playoff spot in six years with a victory and losses by Dallas, Atlanta and Minnesota.

“I’m very surprised,” Daniels said. “I thought we’d have at least two guys. I guess this week we’ve got go out there and play mad.”

It was the first selection for Moss, who was acquired from the New York Jets in March for wideout Laveranues Coles, a Pro Bowl selection for the February 2004 game. Moss, an alternate for that game, made a huge impression with two late, long touchdown catches to beat Dallas on “Monday Night Football” in Week2. He is tied for third in the NFC with 1,240 receiving yards and is fifth with 75 catches — both career highs.

“It’s [hard] being an alternate because you’re sitting around waiting to see if someone’s not going,” Moss said. “When I had this chance to start over, I wanted to come over here and start off fresh using what I learned in New York.”

Coach Joe Gibbs said Moss was what the Redskins needed after having the NFL’s third-worst offense in 2004.

“The number one thing this team needed was big plays downfield,” Gibbs said. “I don’t think you could draw up the kind of year that Santana has had for us.”

Samuels, previously honored after the 2001 and 2002 seasons, slumped in 2003 but was revitalized by the hiring of line coach Joe Bugel in 2004.

“I’m excited about it big time,” Samuels said. “I’ve been working hard to get back over there. A lot of coaches tend to let their players get away from [fundamentals] because they’re already pros, but Buges emphasizes that every day: footwork, balance, tight hands. And before Buges got here, I also dropped my head a lot on pass protection, which was putting me in a bad position to block my guy.”

Guard Ray Brown praised Samuels for playing most of the season with a sprained right knee that will require arthroscopic surgery.

Samuels also sprained his right ankle Dec.11 at Arizona.

“Chris … has been banged up, but he’s sucking it up and playing,” Brown said. “He’s had a big challenge every week, and he’s answered the call.”

H-back Chris Cooley (as a fullback) and running back Clinton Portis were first alternates, but Portis has said he won’t accept the nod if one of the three backs picked ahead of him pulls out with an injury.

Rogers remains sidelined

Springs (groin) and fellow cornerback Carlos Rogers (biceps) joined the resting Samuels in not practicing. Linebacker LaVar Arrington (thigh) and safety Matt Bowen (knee) in returned to practice.

Rogers, who missed Sunday’s 35-7 victory over Dallas, is the only Redskins player unlikely to go against the Giants. Arrington, Bowen and receiver James Thrash (hamstring) also were sidelined for the Cowboys’ game, but all are expected to be ready for Saturday.

Keasey claimed

Rookie linebacker Zak Keasey, who was cut and re-signed three times from Oct. 1 to Nov. 7 before being let go again Friday, was signed to San Francisco’s practice squad.

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