- The Washington Times - Monday, October 16, 2006

This hardly was the return Shawn Springs envisioned.

The Washington Redskins’ top cornerback saw action yesterday for the first time in more than two months. Springs, however, played little, and the Redskins were upset 25-22 at home by the previously winless Tennessee Titans.

Springs, who had been sidelined by a groin injury, played mostly on third downs.

“Physically, I feel all right,” Springs said. “I’m not all the way where I want to be. I’m a little rusty. I wasn’t back. I only played like 15 plays. Hopefully each week, I get better and better and play more plays. I was like a kid getting back out there.”

Assistant head coach Gregg Williams said he wasn’t disappointed in Springs’ performance.

“Our game plan was to not fatigue Shawn,” Williams said. “He’s similar to a guy coming back after a long holdout back in the old contract days when they would pull something when they were trying so hard to catch up.

“We wanted to play him a lot on third down and two-minute, and our big thing was getting them to third down. I would have liked to get him out there more.”

Veteran tackles sit

Defensive tackles Cornelius Griffin and Joe Salave’a, who started 32 and 25 games, respectively, the last three seasons, were declared inactive for yesterday’s game.

Griffin has a strained hip flexor and Salave’a a strained calf. Yesterday marked the first game in which both veterans were inactive.

Rookies Kedric Golston, a sixth-round draft choice, and Anthony Montgomery, a fifth-round pick, started in their places.

“They gave me the start, and they expected me to go out there and make plays, and I didn’t get the job done,” Montgomery said. “We didn’t stop the run like we were supposed to. We jumped off to a big lead, [but] you got to continue to fight and play like it’s still 0-0.”

Golston was credited with six tackles, Montgomery four.

Defensive end Phillip Daniels wasn’t as upset as Montgomery about the performance of the young players.

“Griff and Joe mean a lot to our defense, but our young guys stepped in and played pretty good,” Daniels said. “When you lose veterans like Griff and Joe, it takes a lot away from the inside. But they were getting a lot of their yards towards the outside and on cutbacks.”

Said Williams: “At the end of the game, when they were in a kill-the-clock situation, I thought those two guys did a good job getting penetration and knocking the ball back. But it was too little, too late. They’re only going to get better the more they play.”

Receiver David Patten, who has just one catch this year, was scratched for a second straight game because of a thigh injury. Cornerback Mike Rumph was listed as inactive for the first time this season because Springs was activated.

The Redskins kept cornerback Ade Jimoh in uniform because of his special teams prowess. Jimoh was beaten by Brandon Jones for the 3-yard touchdown catch that drew the Titans to 14-13 with 2:42 remaining in the first half.

The other Redskins listed as inactive were safety Curry Burns and offensive linemen Jim Molinaro and Mike Pucillo. Jason Campbell was the third quarterback, as usual.

Quiet return

Nick Novak made his NFL debut in September 2005 by kicking the extra point that gave the Redskins their first victory over the Cowboys in Dallas in 10 years.

Two weeks later, the Maryland graduate won his first home game as a Redskin by kicking a 39-yard field goal in overtime that beat the Seattle Seahawks.

Novak, cut by the Arizona Cardinals this summer, marked his return to the NFL yesterday by kicking two extra points and kicking off four times.

“It was good to get some kickoffs and extra points, but you want to win that game,” Novak said. “I was staying ready. I was confident that the offense would get down there [for a game-tying field goal attempt].”

However, quarterback Mark Brunell threw an interception on the first play of the Redskins’ final possession, ending their chances of victory.

Injuries

Mark Brunell suffered a torn toenail late in the first half, and cornerback Carlos Rogers broke a thumb. Both continued to play and aren’t expected to need surgery.

Frost blocked

After 193 punts, Derrick Frost suffered the first block of his career.

The Redskins, trailing 20-14 in the third quarter, faced fourth-and-5 at their own 25.

Frost took the snap, but Titans right defensive end Casey Cramer came up the middle untouched and knocked the ball off Frost’s right foot. The ball rolled out the back of the end zone for a safety that extended the Titans’ lead to 22-14 with 7:17 left in the quarter.

The Redskins last allowed a blocked punt on Dec. 18, 2004, to Keith Lewis of the San Francisco 49ers.

It was the first career block for Cramer, a second-year player out of Dartmouth.

“I didn’t get touched,” Cramer said. “For whatever reason, they had the center going the opposite way, and the personal protector didn’t pick me up. I had a straight line for the punter.”

The Titans weren’t even going for a block, instead setting up for a return. Cramer, who nearly had a block last season but was called for a roughing penalty, was shocked to see an open lane to Frost.

“The first couple punt returns I would hit the center and go to the left,” said Cramer, listed fourth on the depth chart at tight end. “They were thinking I was going left, and this time I went right. For whatever reason, they didn’t see me.”


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