- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 27, 2009

KEY MATCHUP

Redskins CBs DeAngelo Hall and Carlos Rogers vs. Lions WR Calvin Johnson

Hall and Rogers had better be ready for Johnson, the 6-foot-5, third-year receiver who is the focus of the Lions’ passing game. Johnson plays right and left receiver, so both Hall and Rogers will get opportunities to cover him.

In two games, Johnson has been the intended receiver 20 times, making eight catches for 141 yards and one touchdown.

“Calvin is a big-time player,” Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Blache said. “He’s big, he’s strong, he’s fast and he’s elusive. He scored a touchdown on us [last year] when we had double coverage. He’s a marquee player and, with the quarterback they’ve got and the things they’ve added, this is going to be a very good football team.”

Hall has played all but two snaps this year and has an interception and two passes defensed. The Giants went after him six times in Week 1 and posted completions of 10, 11 and 26 yards. St. Louis challenged him five times with gains of 6, 2 (touchdown) and 13.

Rogers has been impressive considering he played only one preseason game because of a left calf injury. He played 59 of 64 snaps against the Giants and all 53 against St. Louis. He has been thrown at 10 times — four completions for 37 yards and three pass breakups.

Detroit’s best chance at breaking its 19-game losing streak is going to Johnson time and time again.

THREE KEYS

1. Red zone offense

The Redskins were 0-for-4 (not counting the final kneel-down possession) against St. Louis and settled for three field goals. The Redskins ran 17 plays inside the 20-yard line and gained 23 yards, including 12 in the final 16 snaps. Obviously, that has to improve.

2. Third-down defense

Detroit ranks 29th in third-down conversions, so the opportunity is there for the Redskins to improve on their 27th-place ranking. The New York Giants and St. Louis each converted six third-down chances to keep drives alive against Washington.

3. The first quarter

The Redskins’ modus operandi in recent years is playing up or down to their competition. There’s no excuse for them not to beat Detroit — they simply have superior personnel. But they need to start fast and not give Detroit hope.

THE EDGE

WHEN THE REDSKINS HAVE THE BALL

The Redskins have averaged 6.4 yards a snap on their 53 plays not in the red zone, so this can be a functional offense, and quarterback Jason Campbell was certainly on point (23-for-35 for 242 yards). But it’s time to start scoring touchdowns. Without right guard Randy Thomas, the slow-starting running game will stumble for a while. Campbell will have to combat a pass rush that blitzed Brett Favre 10 times, including four seven-man rushes.

Edge: Redskins

WHEN THE LIONS HAVE THE BALL

The numbers don’t lie for Detroit — 30th in yards, tied for last in yards per play, 29th in yards per rush and 26th in passing yards per game. It is an offense the Redskins should be able to bottle up. If the Redskins can win on first down, it will force Detroit to pass — and the Redskins have the clear advantage there.

Edge: Redskins

SPECIAL TEAMS

A bright spot for the Redskins has been their retooled coverage units. They rank first on kickoffs and sixth on punts. H.B. Blades and Reed Doughty, along with new punter Hunter Smith, have thrived. Detroit is second on punt returns and tied for sixth on kickoffs, so it’s a good matchup. The Redskins’ return game hasn’t gotten going yet; they have only two punt returns, and Rock Cartwright is averaging 24 yards an attempt on kickoffs.

Edge: Redskins

REDSKINS STARTERS

Offense

WR 89 Santana Moss

LT 60 Chris Samuels

LG 66 Derrick Dockery

C 61 Casey Rabach

RG 75 Chad Rinehart

RT 74 Stephon Heyer

TE 47 Chris Cooley

WR 12 Malcolm Kelly

QB 17 Jason Campbell

RB 26 Clinton Portis

FB 45 Mike Sellers

Defense

DE 99 Andre Carter

DT 96 Cornelius Griffin

DT 92 Albert Haynesworth

DE 93 Phillip Daniels

WLB 52 Rocky McIntosh

MLB 59 London Fletcher

SLB 98 Brian Orakpo

CB 23 DeAngelo Hall

CB 22 Carlos Rogers

SS 48 Chris Horton

FS 30 LaRon Landry

Specialists

K 6 Shaun Suisham

P 3 Hunter Smith

PR 82 Antwaan Randle El

KR 31 Rock Cartwright

KR 46 Ladell Betts

Injuries

Questionable: RB Clinton Portis (ankle).

Probable: QB Jason Campbell (foot), DT Anthony Montgomery (knee), OT Mike Williams (illness).

LIONS STARTERS

Offense

WR 80 Bryant Johnson

LT 76 Jeff Backus

LG 70 Daniel Loper

C 51 Dominic Raiola

RG 66 Stephen Peterman

RT 77 Gosder Cherilus

TE 89 Will Heller

WR 81 Calvin Johnson

QB 9 Matthew Stafford

RB 34 Kevin Smith

FB 45 Jerome Felton

Defense

DE 92 Cliff Avril

DT 90 Grady Jackson

DT 79 Sammie Lee Hill

DE 99 Dewayne White

OLB 59 Julian Peterson

MLB 55 Larry Foote

OLB 57 Jordon Dizon

CB 32 Anthony Henry

CB 31 Phillip Buchanon

SS 26 Louis Delmas

FS 40 Marquand Manuel

Specialists

K 4 Jason Hanson

P 2 Nick Harris

PR 31 Phillip Buchanon

KR 21 Aaron Brown

Injuries

Doubtful: DE Cliff Avril (hamstring), CB Eric King (shoulder), LB Ernie Sims (shoulder).

Questionable: CB Phillip Buchanon (neck), DE Andre Fluellen (knee), QB Drew Stanton (knee).

Probable: FB Jerome Felton (ankle), DT Sammie Lee Hill (neck), DT Grady Jackson (knee), G Daniel Loper (knee), S Marquand Manuel (knee).

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