- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 28, 2006

Left guard Derrick Dockery leads Washington with 62 straight starts, but he’s also the only entrenched Redskins regular whose contract is expiring.

“I think Dock will be back,” left tackle Chris Samuels said. “I mess with him all the time, ‘Dock, I need you back. I don’t feel like learning how to play with somebody else.’ ”

While cornerback Champ Bailey (after the 2003 season), linebacker Antonio Pierce and cornerback Fred Smoot (both 2004) and safety Ryan Clark (2005) all left after they couldn’t agree to a new contract with Washington before the end of a season, Dockery said that won’t be true for him.

“I love being a Redskin,” said Dockery, the top prospective free agent guard after Cincinnati’s Eric Steinbach. “I want to be here. I’m going to tell my agent to do what we have to do for that to happen.”

That would be welcome news to Dockery’s linemates and position coach.

“Derrick has improved light years,” offensive line coach Joe Bugel said. “When I first saw him on tape [in the winter of 2004], I thought he was a work in progress. He had a lot of ugly errors. He has progressed every year. He doesn’t miss practice. He doesn’t miss games. You can coach him hard.”

Center Casey Rabach said that Dockery’s game has really taken off since the bye week at midseason.

“Dock has found his stride,” Rabach said. “His pad leverage and his footwork are a lot better. He’s playing faster and fiercer. Any time you can keep your five guys together that’s huge. An offensive line lives on its cohesiveness.”

If Dockery returns, the Redskins would have the same starting quintet for a third consecutive season. It would make five straight years for Dockery, Samuels and right guard Randy Thomas.

“The hard work I put in the offseason made a difference,” said Dockery, who lost 20 pounds on his 6-foot-6 frame to get down to 325. “Coach Bugel pushed me real hard and the four guys around me helped a lot, too. I feel a lot quicker, a lot better. And I have a lot more confidence in my ability. I want to be somebody my teammates can trust to get my man on every play. It’s definitely my best season. I knew if I played well, the money will come.”

Rumph cut, Eubanks promoted

It was no surprise that John Eubanks was promoted from the practice squad to replace injured fellow cornerback Shawn Springs. What was stunning was that the Redskins cut veteran corner Mike Rumph with just two practices and one game to go and replaced him with former Atlanta cornerback Leigh Torrence.

Springs, who fractured his right shoulder at St. Louis, was placed on injured reserve. Torrence signed with Green Bay as an undrafted rookie out of Stanford in 2005. Cut by the Packers that summer, he signed with the Falcons and played 10 games. He was released this summer.

Rumph, San Francisco’s first-round draft pick in 2002, was acquired from the 49ers on Aug. 16 for disappointing receiver Taylor Jacobs. Rumph struggled as the third corner in the first five games while Springs was recuperating from pelvic surgery and played in only one of the next 10 games, against Atlanta when Springs was sidelined with a hamstring injury.

Eubanks signed with the Redskins as an undrafted rookie out of Southern Mississippi. The Redskins signed offensive tackle Calvin Armstrong and receiver Ryan Hoag to fill the practice squad vacancies caused by the promotions of running back Nehemiah Broughton last Saturday and of Eubanks.

Health watch

Special teams standout Khary Campbell (hamstring) and safety Troy Vincent (illness) didn’t practice. Campbell was hurt in the fourth quarter last Sunday at St. Louis and is questionable for Saturday’s game with the New York Giants.

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