- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 1, 2005

Washington Redskins cornerback Carlos Rogers is ready to get things started again.

Because a strained calf muscle has kept right cornerback Walt Harris out of practice all week, Rogers has been elevated to the starting lineup for tomorrow’s game against the Seattle Seahawks at FedEx Field.

Until Rogers served as the nickel corner against Chicago and Dallas in the first two weeks, the No. 9 pick in April’s NFL Draft had been a starter since midway through his sophomore season at Auburn. Rogers even started the three preseason games for which he was healthy because of nagging injuries to Harris and left corner Shawn Springs.

“Starting isn’t anything to get overwhelmed about,” Rogers said in his typical low-key manner. “I’ll be happy if I start, but my goal is to keep making progress each week.”

But no matter how often assistant head coach Gregg Williams says everyone on the third-ranked defense is a starter, it’s a big jump going from the 40 snaps that Rogers played against the Bears and Cowboys to the more than 100 played by 10-year veteran Harris.

“When you start, you get a chance to get in the groove of the game,” said Redskins second-year free safety Sean Taylor, who became a starter in Week 3 last season.

Said Harris: “This week was a really good week for Carlos. I think you’ll be really impressed with how he plays in the game.”

Rogers, who says he doesn’t feel like a rookie any longer, isn’t easily impressed. Despite covering such veteran receivers as Muhsin Muhammad and Keyshawn Johnson, Rogers maintains that teammate Taylor Jacobs, whom he faced in college, has given him the most trouble.

“We try to get [rookies] acclimated to make sure they understand what pro football is about,” Williams said. “It’s a learning curve for any young player. Carlos has done very well.”

Harris did so well against the Cowboys that he was named the Redskins’ defensive player of the week, but now he’ll almost certainly miss his first regular-season game since Indianapolis’ 2002 finale.

“I really want to be out there, but I’m working against time,” said Harris, who missed two preseason games with a similar injury. “I go through [muscle injuries] a lot. I know how to handle them. I don’t feel like I can push it right now.”

Harris will be joined on the sideline by strong safety Pierson Prioleau, whose hamstring has kept him off the field since he strained it on the first series of the Dallas game Sept. 19. Prioleau, who will be replaced by Matt Bowen — the starter for the first five games of 2004 — hasn’t missed a game since November 2001. Safeties Ryan Clark, Omar Stoutmire and corner Ade Jimoh are the only healthy reserves in the secondary.

Novak kicks again

With veteran John Hall still out with the quadriceps he injured in the Sept. 11 opener, undrafted rookie kicker Nick Novak will fill in for a second straight game. In his debut, Novak kicked the extra point that gave Washington its first victory in Dallas in 10 years.

Hall, who missed just one game during his first seven seasons, will miss his 10th game in the last 14 dating back to Oct. 17.

Partners in pain

Redskins offensive left tackle Chris Samuels and Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander, both two-time Pro Bowl picks, were freshmen at Alabama six years ago under the eye of scout team coach Willard Scissum, a member of the Redskins’ famed replacement team in 1987.

“Chris and I got in some trouble, and we were bear-crawling the whole field,” Alexander said, chuckling. “Coach Scissum looks up and says, ‘I don’t understand what’s wrong with you two. You find ways to get in trouble and make me punish you. You’ll probably be All-Americans and first-round draft picks by the time you leave here, and I want you to remember me.’ ”

Samuels has never forgotten having to crawl repeatedly across the field on his hands and knees.

“I used to get in trouble a lot freshman year for being late to meetings,” Samuels said. “Bear crawls are pretty tough. I used to get angry about having to do them, but I guess they made me tougher.”

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