- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 19, 2005

The injuries that have plagued Washington’s defensive tackles and secondary finally hit the offense in a big way yesterday when No.2 receiver David Patten underwent season-ending arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.

Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said that since No.3 receiver James Thrash — a starter from 2000 to 2003 with Washington and Philadelphia — is also the team’s top return specialist, he’ll remain in those roles with third-year man Taylor Jacobs leaping from afterthought to Patten’s spot.

Thrash will be even more important tomorrow against Oakland since his kickoff return partner, Ladell Betts, is doubtful with a sprained knee.

“We were hoping it would be something [minor],” Gibbs said. “David felt good after [last Sunday’s] game, but [early this week], he said it didn’t feel right. Hopefully, David will bounce back quickly and we’ll get him ready for next year. This gives Taylor and James an opportunity to step up and make a statement.”

The Redskins opted not to re-sign Jimmy Farris, the hero of their preseason finale, instead promoting former Maryland receiver/return man Rich Parson from the practice squad to take Patten’s roster spot. The undrafted rookie likely will join Thrash on kickoff returns tomorrow.

Jacobs, Washington’s second-round choice in the 2003 draft, has just two catches for 33 yards this season and 21 catches for 248 yards and one touchdown during his three seasons. His previous four starts came last season when the Redskins opened in three-receiver sets.

“It feels good to step into a role where I’ll be on the field a whole lot more,” Jacobs said. “I know Santana [Moss] is the big dog and I realize that [defenses] might roll some coverages to his side. I’m just going to give it my best shot, not try to do anything out of my power.”

Patten wasn’t the hoped-for weapon opposite fellow new receiver Moss, catching just 22 passes for 217 yards and no touchdowns.

Parson didn’t figure to have a pro future after starting just two games at Maryland while catching 61 passes and serving as the No.2 return specialist. He was planning to use his degree in family studies to become a marriage counselor before the Redskins signed him in April.

“We had so many polished receivers during camp, but … I got some great returns in [the preseason finale] and that’s what really gave me a shot,” Parson said. “This is the opportunity of a lifetime.”

Taylor back, Griffin not

Free safety Sean Taylor will start tomorrow after missing the first game of his two-year career with a sprained ankle last week. However, defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin will be sidelined for a third consecutive game with a strained hip flexor. Demetric Evans likely will start again in place of Griffin, who missed just five games in his previous five seasons.

Home sweet home

The only NFL teams still undefeated at home are division leaders Indianapolis (9-0 overall), Denver (7-2) and Seattle (7-2) and the Redskins (5-4), who have beaten Seattle and NFC North leader Chicago as well as defending NFC champion Philadelphia and San Francisco.

Their 4-0 home mark follows consecutive 3-5 seasons in Landover. The Redskins were just 35-29-1 at FedEx Field before this season compared to 173-102-3 at RFK Stadium and 82-58-4 at Griffith Stadium.

“The players are starting to believe that FedEx is special,” said guard Ray Brown, one of just two Redskins players from the RFK era. “The fans have done their part in supporting [us]. We’ve done a good job by winning, which is going to create a noise factor for the opposing team.”

Center Cory Raymer, the other Redskins player whose roots go back to the mid-1990s, said there’s still a huge contrast between 56,454-seat RFK and mammoth Fed Ex, with an NFL-most capacity of 91,665.

“RFK was unbelievable,” Raymer said. “The fans were more on [top of] you. It was a lot of fun. The last couple of games, FedEx was the loudest it’s been. It’s starting to sound a little bit more like RFK. [Redskins owner Dan] Snyder is trying to get as many people packed in as possible. But along with that comes winning.”

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