- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 19, 2009

Washington Redskins cornerback Carlos Rogers practiced with the first-team defense Wednesday and is expected to start Sunday, a week after he was benched in a win over the Denver Broncos.

“To me, if you’re any type of fighter, you’re going to respond and fight, and I think that’s what he’s going to do,” secondary coach Jerry Gray said. “The guy has too much talent and too much athletic ability and too much fight not to be on the football field.”

Rogers’ day against Denver ended after he was beaten for a 40-yard touchdown reception by Brandon Marshall, who used a double move similar to one used by Philadelphia’s DeSean Jackson in Week 7. Rogers sat out the final 54 snaps.

Before practice at Redskin Park, Rogers said his routine wasn’t going to change.

“I don’t expect to be on the bench,” he said. “I made a mistake. It happened. Whatever the consequences, I got to deal with it, I got to live with it. I don’t think I’ll be just strictly benched. I may come off the bench. I’m going to prepare, practice and continue to study like I’m a starter.”

Gray, a former NFL cornerback, removed Rogers because he expected the Broncos to continue to attack him in the passing game.

“I’ve lived that life,” Gray said. “If something happens like that, I feel like, ‘OK, it’s becoming a trend,’ I have to protect this guy. Sometimes as a corner you can lose confidence. I knew they would have picked on him the rest of the game. I have to be smart enough as a coach to say, ‘I’m going to protect my guy.’

“There’s a period of embarrassment, and then you get past that and you say, ‘OK, coach, why did you do it?’ I explain it and then move on.”

Gray and Rogers have discussed the touchdowns and the need to keep his eyes on the receiver and not the quarterback.

“That’s the only thing Jerry told me to do - don’t stop my aggression, don’t stop being a physical corner,” Rogers said.

Coach Jim Zorn was pleased with Rogers’ response to the benching.

“He had his mind right on practice, right in the game planning, and he didn’t skip a beat,” Zorn said. “He wasn’t pouting at all.”

Portis ‘very doubtful’

Barring a shift in his recovery, running back Clinton Portis (concussion) is expected to miss his second straight game. Portis underwent tests Wednesday in the District.

“I would say it’s very doubtful,” Zorn said. “He had a little blurry vision after we got him warmed up - we got a little sweat going, and he’s still a little foggy there.”

Even if Portis is somehow cleared Thursday or Friday, Zorn would hesitate to play him.

“I would be very cautious,” he said. “[Not practicing] is really key for me, because I want to see him go more than just one play before I say, ‘Yeah, I’m giving you the thumbs up.’ ”

Ladell Betts is practicing with the first team and will start if Portis isn’t available.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen with Clinton, but if I am the starter it’s a different mindset, so I approach it that way,” Betts said. “I just get to prepare from start to finish. It’s not a third-down situation like I’ve been doing - it’ll be first through fourth down. I’ll be the man, so to speak.”

Award for Smith

Redskins punter Hunter Smith was named the NFC special teams player of the week for his 35-yard touchdown pass against Denver.

Smith is the first specialist in NFL history to both rush and throw for a touchdown in the same season. He scored on an 8-yard run against the New York Giants in Week 1.

Among the messages Smith received after the game was one from Colts quarterback and former teammate Peyton Manning.

“He sent me a text saying, ‘Nice TD throw,’ and I sent him back a text saying, ‘You need to get your quarterback rating up where mine is,’ ” Smith said.

Smith has a 158.3 rating on one attempt; Manning’s rating is 104.2 on 357 passes.

Haynesworth sits

Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, who sprained his right ankle against the Broncos, wore a walking boot and did not practice.

“Albert will work as hard as he possibly can to get to this game and to play 100 percent in it,” Zorn said. “It will probably come down to a weekend decision.”

• Staff writer David Elfin contributed to this report.

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