- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 30, 2005

On the heels of a third straight excruciating defeat, Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs met with 15 players with at least five years of experience to discuss the mood of the locker room Monday.

“It was an open forum,” Gibbs said. “I told them, ‘This is like family. You can say anything, vent anything you want to vent. No one’s going to get mad. Is there something I need to hear?’ If I’m stuck in that room [and] I don’t hear [something], it’s hard to deal with as a coach.”

Gibbs said he enjoyed the meeting and added that the 5-6 team is as hard-working and as fun to be around as any of the 14 he has coached.

“It was just an inventory check for Coach Gibbs to see where we are mentally because it was a blow losing last week, matter of fact losing the last three,” 20th-year offensive lineman Ray Brown said. “Veteran players sort of set the tempo. Guys have kept a tight-knit group. We’re in this together. We’re not pointing fingers, and that’s easy to do. Sure it’s a rocky ride right now, but no one’s jumped ship. We’re grabbing hold and trying to steer this thing in the right direction.”

Rogers will start

After replacing Walt Harris in the second quarter of the 23-17 loss to San Diego, rookie Carlos Rogers will start ahead of the 10-year veteran against St. Louis’ top-ranked passing attack Sunday.

“We knew at some point Carlos would be the guy,” secondary coach DeWayne Walker said. “I think he appreciates not being thrown to the wolves.”

Wynn watches

For the first time in his four years as a Redskin, Renaldo Wynn didn’t practice. The defensive end rested his ailing hamstring but said he plans to be back on the field today or tomorrow and play Sunday.

Defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin rested his ailing hip flexor but should start for the first time since Oct. 30. However, fellow defensive tackle Joe Salave’a is expected to be sidelined with plantar fasciitis in his left foot, meaning Cedric Killings will slide from the left side, where he started for Griffin last week, to the right.

H-back Mike Sellers, who missed last week with a fractured rib, was cleared to return and took part in individual drills.

“I’m good enough to play, so I’ll strap it up and see what I can do,” Sellers said.

After not practicing for two weeks, running back Ladell Betts did some individual work but likely will miss a third straight game with a sprained knee.

Offensive tackle Chris Samuels rested his tender knee but, like Griffin, is probable for Sunday.

Holt spills secret

Interim Rams coach Joe Vitt was evasive about whether journeyman Jamie Martin, who left Sunday’s game with an injury to his right eye, or rookie Ryan Fitzpatrick, who rallied St. Louis from a 24-7 deficit to an improbable 33-27 overtime victory at Houston, would start against the Redskins.

But veteran receiver Torry Holt had no such qualms.

“He’s the starter this week,” Holt said when asked about Fitzpatrick. “He’ll be the guy to try to lead us to get this win against Washington, I assume, unless something changes from here to Sunday.”

Royal bolstered

Robert Royal felt horrible after dropping three of the four passes thrown his way against San Diego, but the tight end was encouraged by Gibbs’ declaration of support.

“It was great to hear that your coach cares so much about you,” said Royal, who has just 10 catches this season. “Sometimes things happen that you don’t want to happen, but I haven’t lost my confidence. I’m not going to go out there and try to catch three million balls. I’m just going to do what I’m supposed to do.”

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