- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Washington Redskins have asked Carlos Rogers to be patient in his return from a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee. That, however, has not been easy for the injured cornerback, who stalked the sidelines in frustration yesterday because he couldn’t participate in walkthroughs during organized team activities.

“It’s hard because you know you can do things. You see how your leg’s coming,” said Rogers, who the medical staff says won’t be ready for the start of the regular season. “I’m breaking and cutting in individual drills, so what’s wrong with doing a walkthrough? I guess my knee’s about 80 percent. I don’t feel it cutting and breaking, doing all the [defensive back] drills …

“They tell y’all that I won’t be back until after the season starts, but the way my knee feels, I’m not going to miss no half a season. I’m on track to be out there for training camp. I know I’ll be there first game. I’m not going to miss that.”

The Redskins open the season against the Super Bowl champion New York Giants and receiver Plaxico Burress, who beat Rogers for the winning touchdown in Week 2 last season. Burress visited Redskin Park recently and bragged about how he planned to do the same this season.

“Being hurt makes you appreciate the game more,” Rogers said. “It makes you take nothing for granted. One play and you can be gone for the rest of the season. I always worked. Now I gotta work even harder. I want to be one of the guys who had his best season after a knee injury. People always tell me it will take a year to get better, that I won’t be the same. My whole thing is to prove ‘em wrong, don’t let this injury hold me back.”

Cornerbacks coach Jerry Gray has told Rogers to be cautious.

“We gotta keep the reins on Carlos so he doesn’t reinjure that thing,” Gary said. “We’ve got to let it get completely healed. Coaches don’t look at a guy as injured when he steps on the field, so when the trainers give Carlos to me, they want him totally healthy. We’ll kinda work him in slow when he gets the chance to come back.”

After his injury, Rogers - who had never missed more than a game with any previous injury - missed the challenge of covering elite receivers and the Redskins’ run to an NFC wild-card berth.

“It’s my third year,” the 26-year-old said, thinking back to the injury Oct. 28. “I’m finally in a groove, breaking up passes, taking a pick back. Things were happening like this [snaps his fingers]. I didn’t have to really think about stuff. Then this injury happened.”

Indeed, while Rogers dropped several sure interceptions during his first two years, he returned an interception for a touchdown Oct. 7 against the Detroit Lions.

“I really thought Carlos was taking the next step before he got hurt,” Gray said. “He’s got great athletic ability, and he’s one of the most physical corners in the league. He was just getting into a groove in the passing game.”

With veterans Shawn Springs and Fred Smoot at the corners, Rogers won’t have time to get into a groove if he intends to reclaim his starting spot.

“Carlos looks like he’s ready, but there’s going to be a little mental hurdle that he has to overcome,” Gray said. “Your body has to adjust to something that you’ve never gone through. Are you going to be protective of it when you come back, or are you going to play with reckless abandon? I think the injury will make Carlos a better player because now he understands what he has to do to play well other than just relying on his natural ability.”

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