- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mike Sellers apologized for tossing the American flag aside during pregame introductions Friday before the Washington Redskins’ preseason game against the Patriots.

The 34-year-old Pro Bowl fullback, as the last player introduced, came running onto the field holding the flag before flinging it down as he reached his teammates. Rookie linebacker Robert Henson quickly picked up the flag.

“I meant no disrespect,” Sellers said, noting that his father served for decades in the Army. “I made a mistake.”

Suisham may be in trouble

Incumbent kicker Shaun Suisham is in danger of losing the starting job to journeyman Dave Rayner. Other than a 52-yard try by Suisham that was wide left against the Patriots, each man has attempted - and made - only one short field goal in the three preseason games. Rayner has made all four of his extra points. Suisham converted his one attempt.

“It is very close,” coach Jim Zorn said. “I’m very undecided about the situation. I’m waiting for the last possible minute to have to make that choice because there’s no clear-cut guy.”

Zorn said Suisham’s crash from 83 percent field goal accuracy in 2007 to 72 percent in 2008 is a factor in the decision.

“That comes into the weighing of that competition, no question about it,” Zorn said. “Every kick is hugely important. They had kind of a kickoff in practice [last week]. They were dead-on. Nobody missed a thing.”

Defense struggles

After allowing the fourth-fewest yards and the sixth-fewest points in 2008 and adding All-Pro tackle Albert Haynesworth and first-round linebacker Brian Orakpo, the Redskins figure to have one of the NFL’s most dominant defenses in 2009.

However, Washington’s first-string defense was more dominated than dominant in Friday’s 27-24 preseason loss to New England. After an initial three-and-out, Tom Brady, Randy Moss and the Patriots generated 179 yards and 17 points on their next three drives before the Redskins rose up and finished the half by forcing consecutive punts.

“We had too many mistakes and penalties early [four in the first 20 minutes] and it kinda snowballed on us, but I was happy with the last two drives of the half,” middle linebacker London Fletcher said.

Barnes’ first pick

Rookie cornerback Kevin Barnes, who had a rough debut at Baltimore and was quiet against Pittsburgh, recorded his first interception Friday. The third-round draft choice from Maryland stepped in front of Sam Aiken and picked off Kevin O’Connell’s pass at the New England 45 late in the third quarter.

“It’s good that my first game was kind of tough… because I realized how much harder I need to work,” Barnes said. “Definitely I’m getting better and better every game.”

No major injuries

Zorn said running backs Clinton Portis and Marcus Mason both bruised ribs but that X-rays were negative. Receiver Antwaan Randle El has a minor sprained ankle. Quarterback Jason Campbell didn’t suffer any lasting damage from being hit under his shoulder pads when he had his arm raised. Running back Anthony Alridge, who led the Redskins with 49 yards on nine carries after missing the first two preseason games with a sprained toe, didn’t need treatment Saturday.

Safety Kareem Moore pulled a hamstring and might not be ready for Thursday’s preseason finale at Jacksonville. Zorn expects cornerback Carlos Rogers (calf), running back/kick returner Rock Cartwright (groin) and offensive tackle Mike Williams (ankle) to return against the Jaguars.

Staff writer Bob Cohn contributed to this report.

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