Thursday, October 2, 2008

Last week, the Washington Redskins faced a Dallas Cowboys team that rushed more than five defenders fewer than five times.

That won’t be the case this week against the Philadelphia Eagles, who lead the NFL with 17 sacks.

“In certain downs and distances, they blitz more than half the time,” Redskins coach Jim Zorn said. “They’re both aggressive and creative. One team might have three to four schemes to try and get to the quarterback with - [the Eagles] have eight to 10 schemes.”

Longtime defensive coordinator Jim Johnson is famous for his array of pressure packages. The Eagles’ 359 sacks since 2000 lead the NFL.

The Eagles’ blitzes are so effective because of their variety. One play, safety Brian Dawkins might rush up the middle. On the next snap, two linebackers may blitz from the same side.

“They’ll rush five guys from one side, and you don’t see that a whole lot,” center Casey Rabach said. “They’re the whole package. It’s a tough defense to put your finger on because they’re coming from everywhere.”

Eleven players have at least a half-sack this season, led by defensive ends Juqua Parker (3.5) and Darren Howard (2.5).

The Redskins have allowed seven sacks in four games. It will be up to quarterback Jason Campbell to change the protection calls after communicating with Rabach.

“As the quarterback, I have to understand where the main rush is coming from and where to set up in the pocket,” Campbell said. “My eyes are going to be going from east to west across the field, and that has to be everybody, too. We all have to understand the different coverages and different looks we’ll be getting.”

Injury report

Jason Taylor (calf), Shawn Springs (calf), Stephon Heyer (shoulder) and Andre Carter (personal reasons) didn’t practice. Malcolm Kelly (ankle) did the full practice. Taylor spent the opening 40 minutes of practice doing agility work.

“I think that [he won’t play], but I wouldn’t say that because we don’t know,” Zorn said. “He would be optimistic, but if he doesn’t practice, I can’t imagine him playing this week. It may be another week. But he’s out here running, and that’s more than I thought he would do.”

Springs spent the practice watching.

“It’s still really sore right now,” he said before the workout. “Hopefully I’ll be back out there and be ready for the game Sunday.”

Randy Thomas (toe) and Marcus Washington (hamstring) were limited.

In Philadelphia, Kevin Curtis (hernia), Dan Klecko (hand), Donovan McNabb (chest), Asante Samuel (chest) and Brian Westbrook (ankle) took limited work. Westbrook missed last week’s game at Chicago.

“I’m close; I’m getting closer daily,” he said. “I did a little bit during the walkthrough, and I think that’s the first step to getting to the point where you can practice and participate fully.”

Still turnover-free

The Redskins are tied with Tennessee for the turnover ratio lead (plus 6) and are the only team without an offensive turnover. Their only giveaway came on a punt return fumble by Antwaan Randle El.

“You don’t want to say it’s because of luck because first and foremost, [Campbell] is being smart with the ball,” Rabach said. “He’s not forcing things. Coach Zorn has preached every day, ‘Give us a chance to call another play if something’s not there.’”

With that, Rabach added with a grin, “Some people are more superstitious than others. I would rather not talk about it.”

First action

Because of Taylor’s injury, rookie defensive end Rob Jackson made his NFL debut against the Cowboys. Jackson played nine snaps and didn’t make a tackle.

“It was hard making the transition from practicing to getting reps against another team’s starters,” he said. “I have to get to that because I never know when I’m going to be thrown in there. It was a lot different. The intensity - guys finished plays and finished blocks and didn’t let up.”

Demetric Evans took most of Taylor’s snaps, playing 36 at defensive end and nine at tackle. Chris Wilson also saw his playing time increase to 26 snaps.

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