- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 27, 2006

It took only a few minutes for Marcus Washington to realize he prefers playing to watching.

“It was really weird — all I could really do is clap and root my teammates on,” he said yesterday at Redskin Park.

For only the third time in his seven-year NFL career, Washington was a spectator — this time because of a knee injury — when the Washington Redskins lost to St. Louis on Sunday. What he saw wasn’t pretty — the Rams rolled up 579 yards in a 37-31 overtime victory.

Washington missed Indianapolis’ final regular season and lone playoff game in 2002 but had started all 48 games (including playoffs) since joining the Redskins.

“You definitely feel helpless from the sideline,” he said.

Washington sprained his posterior cruciate ligament late in the win over New Orleans on Dec. 17. The linebacker was placed on injured reserve Saturday.

Washington won’t need surgery and said the expected recovery time is four weeks.

“They told me it should heal in four weeks and luckily I won’t need surgery, and I’m happy that I won’t have to go through that whole deal,” he said.

Washington finished the season with 86 tackles, 2 sacks, 10 pass break-ups and two fumble recoveries.

Washington isn’t used to being on losing teams. He made the playoffs three times in four seasons with Indianapolis, but the Redskins have had two losing seasons since his arrival in 2004.

“I have to remember this feeling and how much I hate it,” he said. “Hopefully, it will inspire me and everybody for next season and gives everybody that burning desire to come back, work even harder and try to improve.”

In Washington’s place, rookie Rocky McIntosh started and made eight tackles.

Cooley leads way

Tight end Chris Cooley leads the Redskins with 52 receptions and six touchdowns. The last tight end to lead the team in receptions was Jamie Asher with 49 in 1997.

Cooley is seventh among NFL tight ends in receptions.

Defense now 30th

The Rams’ 579 yards was the most against the Redskins since Arizona gained 615 in a 37-34 Cardinals victory Nov. 10, 1996.

The Redskins’ defensive ranking plummeted from 24th to 30th (355.5 yards a game), matching their lowest ranking of the season, and fell from 21st to 29th (226.5) in pass defense. Their opponents’ quarterback rating of 99.4 is worst in the league, and the takeaway record remains a strong possibility. The Redskins have 12 for the season and need three against the Giants to tie St. Louis and Green Bay for fewest takeaways in a 16-game season.

Protecting Campbell

Quarterback Jason Campbell has been sacked only seven times in six games. The Redskins’ 18 sacks allowed are tied for third fewest in the league behind only Indianapolis (14) and Baltimore (17). It represents the lowest total since Mark Rypien was sacked nine times in 1991.

“They’ve done an outstanding job every week protecting me,” Campbell said. “They’re giving me the opportunity to sit in the pocket and feel comfortable.”

Trade almost finalized

The Redskins’ trade with Denver for running back T.J. Duckett will be finalized once the teams complete the regular season. It is unlikely the Redskins will have to swap first-round picks with the Broncos.

Gibbs intimated the Redskins probably would have to give up their third-round pick in the 2007 draft.

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