- The Washington Times - Friday, December 22, 2006

Since Marcus Washington signed with the Washington Redskins in March 2004, they’ve never known what it’s like to play without their standout strong side linebacker. That will change tomorrow in St. Louis because Washington, their second-leading tackler won’t play because of the left knee he sprained late in last Sunday’s 16-10 victory at New Orleans.

“It’s really disappointing,” said Washington, who has missed just two games in a seven-year NFL career. “I don’t like to miss practice and this is a game. They want me to be smart about this, but it’s hard. If we still had a chance to make the playoffs, they’d have to fight to keep me out of there. I won’t have to have surgery, but the knee still needs to calm down.”

Assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams likely will use both Jeff Posey, a starter in 76 games during his nine-year career, and usual weak side starter Warrick Holdman on the strong side, with Holdman sharing playing time with rookie Rocky McIntosh on the weak side.

Washington’s absence will test a 24th-ranked Redskins defense as it tries to slow Rams running back Steven Jackson, who leads the NFC with 1,916 yards from scrimmage.

“Marcus brings great excitement,” coach Joe Gibbs said. “He loves to play. He goes 100 miles per hour regardless of the situation. The energy he brings to it, a lot of our players play off that. We’ll need some guys to step up … and supply some of the energy and enthusiasm that Marcus does.”

Gibbs hinted that Washington might not be ready for next Saturday’s season finale with the New York Giants.

“We’ll let the medical team continue to work on what’s best for Marcus,” Gibbs said. “He’s still got swelling.”

Good to go

After sitting out last week, Jon Jansen feels his long-ailing torn calf is strong enough for him to return to the lineup at right offensive tackle tomorrow.

“It feels good and I’ll be out there on Sunday,” Jansen said. “It’s a little bit better than it was [when he last played against Philadelphia on Dec. 10].”

Rock’s big day

In five NFL seasons, Redskins running back Rock Cartwright has carried just 135 times for 529 yards except for last Dec. 4 in St. Louis. That’s when Cartwright, filling in for injured backup running back Ladell Betts, relieved starter Clinton Portis and ran nine times for a career-high 118 yards.

“We were able to run the ball effectively, so I had an opportunity to showcase what I can do,” Cartwright said.

Cartwright, who hadn’t had a run of more than 22 yards before that game, ripped off a 52-yard run to the St. Louis 5-yard line behind blocks by Mike Sellers and Santana Moss.

“I wanted to get in the end zone, but I made a mistake by trying to cut back and catch a [defender] off-balance,” Cartwright said. “I cut right into the angle that he had.”

With 1,295 kickoff return yards this season, Cartwright is just 42 shy of third place on Washington’s all-time list. He needs 114 yards for second place and remains on pace for the 184 he needs to top Brian Mitchell’s team record of 1,478.

Memories of RFK

Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of the last Redskins game at RFK Stadium, a 37-10 win over Dallas. No current Redskins coach or player was at RFK that day, but director of sports medicine Bubba Tyer was.

However, Tyer’s favorite RFK memory happened 14 years earlier, when the Redskins whipped the Cowboys 31-17 in the 1982 NFC Championship as the fans had the stands shaking.

Former offensive lineman Ray Brown’s top RFK memory was the upset of the eventual champion Cowboys in 1995. Running backs coach Earnest Byner chose the 1991 NFC Championship victory over Atlanta when the delighted fans rained yellow seat cushions on the field in celebration.

“I’ll never forget the first victory over Dallas,” said Gibbs, who was 77-24 in 12 seasons at RFK. “We beat ‘em to go to the Super Bowl and the players picked me up and started carrying me. The field was so full of people, I got mauled before I got to the locker room.”

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