- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 12, 2008

Rams (0-4) at Redskins (4-1)

Today: 1 p.m.

Where: FedEx Field

TV: Chs. 5, 45

Radio: ESPN 980



KEY MATCHUP

REDSKINS CB CARLOS ROGERS vs. RAMS WR TORRY HOLT

Torry Holt is in his 10th season but the seven-time Pro Bowl receiver remains a concern for the Redskins’ secondary.

“He’s very dangerous,” Redskins coach Jim Zorn said. “He runs precision routes, he can accelerate and I’ve never seen anybody run corner routes and double moves like him. He can tear you up in a heartbeat and we have to be very careful with him.”

Holt becomes an even bigger option in the passing game now that tight end Randy McMichael is out for the season. He gets Marc Bulger back at starting quarterback.

“Marc’s a very accurate passer and they really communicate well,” Zorn said. “No question, that’s going to be an issue for us.”

Holt is trying to have his ninth straight 1,000-yard season, which would tie Tim Brown for the second-longest streak in league history, and his 82.5-yards a game average is the best in history. He missed the season opener but has 15 catches in three games.

Carlos Rogers, who had reconstructive knee surgery less than a year ago, has improved each week. His interception set up the winning touchdown against Arizona and he leads the Redskins with eight pass break-ups. Injuries have limited Shawn Springs to two games, so Rogers has been assigned to the opposition’s top receiver. Springs expects to play a nickel role so Rogers should get the call the majority of the time.

THREE KEYS

1. Dominant first quarter

The Rams are 0-4 and playing their first game for an interim head coach. St. Louis will either come out fired up or without any emotion. If the Redskins start fast, they can take control of the game. The Rams have been outscored 44-7 in the first quarter.

2. Re-establish Moss

Santana Moss went without a catch last week in Philadelphia, only the second shutout since he joined the Redskins. Expect Jim Zorn to dial up some early passes to Moss.

3. Get some sacks

The Redskins won consecutive division road games despite not getting any sacks. Their six sacks are tied for the fourth-fewest in the NFL. The Rams have allowed 13 sacks this season.

THE EDGE

WHEN THE REDSKINS HAVE THE BALL

The Redskins have climbed to sixth in the league in offense (including fifth in rushing) but still leave plenty of points on the field - only three teams have more than the Redskins’ 11 field goals. But the diversity of the offense has been impressive. On a day when Santana Moss was blanked, Chris Cooley caught the ball eight times last week. And the offense remains without a fumble or a turnover. The Rams rank 31st in defense (411.8 yards allowed a game) and are tied for 31st in points allowed (36.1).

Edge: Redskins

WHEN THE RAMS HAVE THE BALL

Old friend Al Saunders brings his offense back to the District but while the shifts and motions are still a constant, he doesn’t have the kind of talent to work with. Marc Bulger is back at starting quarterback but has been sacked 11 times in three games. Steven Jackson is a star but held out all of camp and is just getting into shape. If the Redskins’ ninth-ranked rush defense can contain Jackson, that will allow Greg Blache to pressure on third down (the Rams rank last in third-down efficiency).

Edge: Redskins

SPECIAL TEAMS

The only thing going right for the Rams this season is punter Donnie Jones, who leads the NFL with a 52.7-yard gross average and ranks third with a 41.9-yard net average. For the Redskins, Zorn created an issue earlier in the week when he said punter Durant Brooks needed to improve his height, hang time and distance. Brooks’ leash is getting tighter. Punt returner Antwaan Randle El has improved the last two weeks, the Redskins’ kickoff-return unit is eighth in the league and Shaun Suisham is 11-for-14 on field goals.

Edge: Redskins

- Ryan O’Halloran

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