- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Brandon Lloyd’s first — and only — catch with the Washington Redskins came while being off balance — via a deflected pass — for a short gain. And, for good measure, he was hit late by a Dallas defender, giving the Redskins 15 additional yards.

Like the rest of the offense during an 0-2 start, Lloyd, acquired from San Francisco in March to give the Redskins a deep threat to complement Santana Moss, has found the sledding tough.

Six teammate have more receptions than Lloyd, and 21 receivers in the NFL already have 10 or more catches. Moss and Antwaan Randle El have seven each.

But Lloyd isn’t the only little-used receiving threat on the team. Tight end Chris Cooley has only three catches.

“The potential is there,” Lloyd said. “There’s a difference if you know your offense stinks and if it doesn’t. We know this offense isn’t terrible. It’s just a matter of things going our way.”

Lloyd had no catches against Minnesota and had only four throws come his way. Against Dallas, he caught one of the two passes thrown to him — a 6-yard gain that, after the late hit, set up the Redskins’ only offensive score (a field goal).

Although Lloyd said last week that waiting his turn is not an adjustment, it’s definitely a different situation than the one he faced in San Francisco the last two seasons. In 2004, he had four or more receptions in seven of the 13 games he played. Last season, he had two seven-catch games and nine games of at least three receptions.

Of Mark Brunell’s 35 completions, 19 have been to non-receivers, including a team-high 10 to running back Ladell Betts. Betts is tied for fourth among NFL running backs in receptions, behind Reggie Bush (15), Tiki Barber (12) and Brian Westbrook (11).

Lloyd isn’t getting the ball despite getting open. Several times against Dallas he was open down field.

Besides saving their season with a win, Priorities 1 and 1a for the Redskins this week against Houston should be involving Cooley and Lloyd more, and not overworking running back Clinton Portis if he returns from a one-game absence.

“We’ve got playmakers and we’re disappointed that we have guys who can make great contributions and right now, we’re not able to get them the ball,” coach Joe Gibbs said. “Certainly, if it continues, we’re going to be in deep trouble because those guys can win football games. We have to find a way to rectify it.”

What seems to be the best way to rectify it — a change at quarterback to light a spark — isn’t an option, according to Gibbs. The next best way is mixing things up, route-wise. Lloyd’s specialty is running deep patterns so maybe crossing routes or the receiver screen plays could work — get the ball in his hands and let him gain yards after the catch. Or the Redskins could try him on a reverse like they have Moss and Randle El. For Cooley, use him in the deep middle, splitting the safeties.

“It’s one of those things where we’ll watch the film and maybe say, ‘Hey, that play is working. Maybe we’ll look at it more,’ ” Lloyd said. “It’s something everybody has to see. It can’t come from my mouth. I can’t say, ‘Look, I’m open. Throw to me.’

“I’m running the plays being called and hoping for the best.”

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