- The Washington Times - Friday, October 13, 2006

As a rookie in San Francisco three years ago, Brandon Lloyd observed Terrell Owens and learned how not to act.

So although Lloyd has been slow to become a part of the Washington Redskins’ offense this season, don’t expect him to rip Mark Brunell, slam Al Saunders and lambaste Joe Gibbs.

Lloyd has only six catches for 75 yards and no touchdowns, and he was shut out against the Minnesota Vikings and the New York Giants. One couldn’t fault Lloyd for being stumped.

But his wide grin and loud laugh still remain constants in the Redskins locker room.

“Walking around frustrated and walking around pouting isn’t going to make things better,” Lloyd said. “I’m not going to be the kind of player to call anybody out. I don’t feel that would help me out and I know it wouldn’t help the team out.

“I know the coaches aren’t [intentionally] not trying to get me the ball. Most of it falls back on us as players.”

Not only did the Redskins give up two draft picks for Lloyd, they gave him a contract extension that includes $10 million guaranteed. But he doesn’t see the deal as a burden.

“You always want to make a big splash, but I don’t need to prove anything to anybody,” he said. “I know what I can do. My teammates know what I can do. That’s just how things are going right now. Eventually, things will turn around.”

They really can’t get any worse for Lloyd, who entered the season with 91 catches for 1,298 yards and 11 touchdowns the last two seasons with San Francisco. The Redskins coveted him because Moss was the team’s only deep-ball threat last year and they expected Lloyd to draw attention off Moss and tight end Chris Cooley. Five games into the season, Lloyd is sixth on the team in receiving yards and tied for fifth in catches.

“There’s nothing magical to do,” Lloyd said. “We have so many weapons that need touches before me for this team to be really successful and do the things that sent this team to the playoffs last year. I have to keep active and make the plays when they come to me.”

Lloyd is on the field almost as much as Moss so playing time isn’t an issue. But Lloyd knows the pecking order in the Redskins system. Moss is obviously No. 1 (20 catches), followed by Chris Cooley (15 catches). Antwaan Randle El has emerged as a solid underneath and boundary receiver (14 catches).

All three of those players give the Redskins different things. Lloyd, meanwhile, is the same kind of receiver as Moss — adept at getting downfield with his speed and a possessor of good hands and after-the-catch talents. Lloyd has had to settle for midrange passes; his per catch average of 12.5 yards is nearly three yards below his 2005 average. His catches have gained 6, 9, 11, 11, 33 and 5 yards.

Against the Giants last week, Lloyd had only two passes thrown his direction. In the Redskins’ three defeats, he has one catch for 6 yards; in the two wins, he has five catches for 69 yards.

“The receivers are a lot more difficult to get involved with touches,” said Saunders, the Redskins’ associate head coach-offense. “With a running back, you can just hand the ball to him. With receivers, you have to throw the ball and it involves protection, routes, what the coverage is and an accurate throw. A guy can have five opportunities and have no catches or four opportunities like Santana did [against Jacksonville] and score three touchdowns.”

Opponents have relied on a cover 2 defense (two safeties playing deep) and the Redskins claim that has limited Lloyd’s chances for the long ball. And that’s partly true. Moss’ two longest catches (55 and 68 yards) were medium-length passes that turned into touchdowns.

Saunders said he has drawn up a few new ways to get Lloyd involved the last two games. Like Saunders, Gibbs is a veteran play caller and believes entering a game determined to involve one receiver usually means disappointment for that receiver.

“That’s hard to do,” Gibbs said. “I don’t care what you have laid out, the defense can take it away with pressure or something else. I don’t know if you can say, ‘We’re going to get the ball to somebody.’ When you’re in the game a lot like Brandon is, you hope that it comes around and there are games where he gets a bunch.”

Lloyd hopes that bountiful game comes soon, maybe even against Tennessee on Sunday. Until his break-out game, he stands in a line that can occasionally be as frustrating as Monday mornings at the DMV, and waits for his number to be called.

“It’s obvious things can turn around,” he said. “Five games into the season on my first year with a team and in this offense — I can’t be frustrated. I know my number is going to be called and I have to stay ready.”

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