- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 20, 2009

Today, 1 p.m.

Where: FedEx Field

TV: Chs. 5, 45

Radio: ESPN 980, AM-730, AM-570, AM-1260

KEY MATCHUP

Redskins MLB London Fletcher vs. Rams RB Steven Jackson

The signing of defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth didn’t produce a different result for the Redskins last week at Giants Stadium. However, with the massive Haynesworth occupying blockers in front of him, Fletcher was even more free to roam to the ball. He showed no signs of being 34, making 18 tackles with 11 solo stops, both marks one shy of his highs since 2005.

Fletcher got his start with the 1998 Rams, for whom he was a surprising special teams captain as a rookie free agent. He became a starter in 1999 and was the top tackler for the Super Bowl champions, a title he has maintained in his nine full seasons since for St. Louis, Buffalo and Washington.

This week’s main mission for the 5-foot-10, 245-pound dynamo is keeping Jackson in check. Jackson generated 79 yards on 22 touches as the winless Rams upset the streaking Redskins 19-17 in Week 6 last year at FedEx Field. Two years earlier, he ripped through the Washington defense for 150 yards and added 102 receiving yards while scoring three touchdowns as the host Rams won 37-31 on overtime. That ugly outing helped prompt the signing of Fletcher in free agency three months later.

THREE KEYS

1. Third-down defense

The Redskins allowed the Giants to convert six of 13 third downs last week. In contrast, the Rams converted just two of 12 third downs while being blanked by Seattle, and one was a third-and-2.

2. Start strong

Washington fell behind New York 10-0 after less than 20 minutes last week and trailed 17-0 before scoring. That made it hard for the Redskins offense to avoid becoming one-dimensional and to prevent the Giants from trying to run the clock by keeping the ball on the ground.

3. Get Portis going

After racing for 34 yards on his first carry last week, Clinton Portis managed just 28 yards on 15 carries the rest of the way. The loss dropped the Redskins to 10-36 when Portis gets limited to 80 or fewer yards. When he tops that, the Redskins are 28-7.

THE EDGE

WHEN THE REDSKINS HAVE THE BALL

The Redskins have four reigning Pro Bowl selections: tight end Chris Cooley, tackle Chris Samuels, running back Clinton Portis and fullback Mike Sellers. But Washington has yet to score 30 points during any of coach Jim Zorn’s 17 games. While the Rams seem vulnerable on defense after giving up 446 yards and 28 points to Seattle last week, the Redskins managed just 200 yards and 17 points against them last year. What’s more, new Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo’s defense won three of four matchups against the Redskins when he was the New York Giants’ coordinator in 2007-08. Zorn would like to get ahead and then open up the offense to get everyone involved.

Edge: Redskins

WHEN THE RAMS HAVE THE BALL

The stars who made the Rams “The Greatest Show On Turf” from 1999 to 2003 are all gone. Young receiver Laurent Robinson might be a worthy successor to Isaac Bruce as a deep threat for quarterback Marc Bulger. St. Louis is at its best when running back Steven Jackson has the ball constantly. Jackson gained just 67 yards on 16 carries against the Seahawks. Washington did a fine job against the Giants’ feared running attack last week. But the pass defense allowed three long completions and only sacked Eli Manning once despite the additions of tackle Albert Haynesworth and rookie linebacker Brian Orakpo.

Edge: Redskins

SPECIAL TEAMS

Rams kicker Josh Brown beat the Redskins last year with a career-high four field goals, including a 49-yarder on the game’s final play. Punter Donnie Jones had a huge game last week, averaging 50.8 gross yards and 44.8 net. Shaun Suisham barely retained the Redskins’ kicking job this summer after an ugly 2008 season. New punter/holder Hunter Smith scored on a fake field goal last week but averaged just 38.6 gross yards and 32.8 net. H.B. Blades is trying to replace the departed Khary Campbell as the top tackler for Washington’s usually strong coverage units.

Edge: Rams

REDSKINS STARTERS

Offense

WR 89 Santana Moss

WR 12 Malcolm Kelly

LT60Chris Samuels

LG 66 Derrick Dockery

C 61 Casey Rabach

RG 77 Randy Thomas

RT 74 Stephon Heyer

TE 47 Chris Cooley

RB 26 Clinton Portis

FB 45 Mike Sellers

QB 17 Jason Campbell

Defense

DE 93 Phillip Daniels

DT 96 Cornelius Griffin

DT 92 Albert Haynesworth

DE 99 Andre Carter

OLB 52 Rocky McIntosh

MLB 59 London Fletcher

OLB 98 Brian Orakpo

CB 22 Carlos Rogers

CB 23 DeAngelo Hall

SS 48 Chris Horton

FS 30 LaRon Landry

Specialists

K 6 Shaun Suisham

P 3 Hunter Smith

KR 31 Rock Cartwright

46 Ladell Betts

PR 89 Santana Moss

Injuries

Questionable: DT Anthony Montgomery (knee), CB Fred Smoot (rib)

Probable: LB Robert Henson (illness), T Chris Samuels (knee)

RAMS STARTERS

Offense

WR 11 Laurent Robinson

WR 17 Donnie Avery

LT 70 Alex Barron

LG 63 Jacob Bell

C 60 Jason Brown

RG68Richie Incognito

RT 77 Jason Smith

TE 84 Randy McMichael

RB 39 Steven Jackson

FB 44 Mike Karney

QB 10 Marc Bulger

Defense

DE 91 Leonard Little

DT 71 Gary Gibson

DT 95 Clifton Ryan

DE 72 Chris Long

OLB 58 David Vobora

MLB 55 James Laurinaitis

OLB 51 Will Witherspoon

CB 24 Ronald Bartell

CB 20 Jonathan Wade

SS 37 James Butler

FS 21 Oshiomogho Atogwe

Specialists

P 5 Donnie Jones

K 3 Josh Brown

KR 34 Kenneth Darby

19 Derek Stanley

PR 19 Derek Stanley

Injuries

Out: S Craig Dahl (hamstring), T John Greco (wrist)

David Elfin

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