- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 12, 2007

If there was any doubt Washington Redskins left tackle Chris Samuels wasn’t ready for the season, it was erased late in the third quarter Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.

The Redskins faced a first-and-15 from their own 15-yard line in a 10-10 game. Going against reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Jason Taylor, Samuels had been winning most of the battles even though he had missed a month of practice and all four preseason games with a sprained medial collateral ligament.

At the snap, Taylor took three steps and faked an outside move. Samuels bit, and Taylor used a hand swipe and instantly had a clear path to quarterback Jason Campbell. But just as quickly, that opening disappeared. Samuels instantly turned his hips to the right, got his hands into Taylor’s midsection and pushed him out of Campbell’s path.

Campbell’s completion gained only 4 yards. But it could have ended in 7-yard sack.

The play was a prime example of how Samuels’ return was a success. Taylor and Samuels were matched up on 13 passing plays. Only twice did Taylor beat Samuels.

“I was really impressed,” Redskins center Casey Rabach said. “Everybody thinks the world of him and his ability, but to have only one week of practice and then go against the reigning defensive player of the year, that shows what kind of player Chris is.”

The start was a good sign for the Redskins’ offensive line, who now must make up for the loss of right tackle Jon Jansen. Campbell can take comfort that his back is being protected by Samuels and left guard Pete Kendall, who was equally impressive in his Redskins debut.

Heading into the game, there were two assumptions about Samuels: 1) He would be rusty and need an occasional rest; and 2) He would need help blocking Taylor in the passing game.

After the game, there were two conclusions about Samuels: 1) He showed no rust and played all 64 offensive snaps; and 2) He got double-team help against Taylor once … on a running play.

Not bad for a guy who had fewer than 10 practices the entire preseason.

“I didn’t really get that tired,” Samuels said. “I figured I would be really winded out there, but I wasn’t. I think the adrenaline kicked in.”

Early in the second quarter, Taylor lined up opposite Jansen for a series, going against Chris Cooley and Mike Pucillo on run plays and even dropping into coverage to shadow Cooley. Surprisingly, after Jansen’s injury, the Dolphins didn’t keep Taylor on the right side to go against rookie Stephon Heyer. On one of the few pass plays in which the two were matched up, Taylor got instant leverage and shoved Heyer backward.

The two times in the passing game Taylor had the advantage came in the second quarter, and Samuels had valid excuses for both plays. The first came on a third-and-goal from the 5-yard line. Taylor appeared to jump offsides but no penalty was called. Samuels had to backpedal quickly and was flat-footed, and Taylor used a two-handed shove to get the advantage.

“When I watched the tape, he was offsides,” Samuels said. “I tried to hurry and recover, but he pushed me back.”

On the second play (second-and-8 from the Redskins 35), Samuels tried to cut block Taylor at the snap because Campbell was supposed to take a three-step drop and throw immediately. But the route was covered, and Taylor stayed on his feet and got the 5-yard sack.

More often than not, though, it was Samuels handling Taylor.

“He did a great job — I watched him all day, and he did great in the passing game as well as the running game,” new right tackle Todd Wade said. “I didn’t see any sign of weakness in his knee.”

While the Redskins lost Jansen, they enter Week 2 knowing their left tackle is well on his way to another Pro Bowl-type season.

“To play like he did was an outstanding thing for him,” coach Joe Gibbs said. “It was impressive.”

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