- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 29, 2009

D.C. native Byron Leftwich made a triumphant return to FedEx Field last year when he replaced an injured Ben Roethlisberger and helped the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Washington Redskins.

There will be no such fanfare this week.

Leftwich was benched as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ starting quarterback Monday and was replaced by second-year pro Josh Johnson. Leftwich, who prepped at H.D. Woodson before playing at Marshall, was dropped to No. 3 on the depth chart behind Johnson and rookie first-round pick Josh Freeman.

The 0-3 Buccaneers lost to the New York Giants 24-0 Sunday, totaling just 86 yards of offense. Leftwich has four touchdowns and three interceptions this year.

“I hate to make this about Byron,” Bucs coach Raheem Morris told reporters. “I don’t want us as an organization to say that game was all Leftwich. But Byron is suffering the consequences.”

Leftwich made a free agent visit to the Redskins last spring but ultimately signed a two-year deal (with no signing bonus) to play for Tampa Bay, where he won the quarterback competition in the preseason.

Johnson will be making his first NFL start.

“He provides us more options,” Morris said. “He creates a better chance to break out of the pocket and [can] make a play with his feet.”

Fletcher weighs in

Linebacker London Fletcher, the defensive co-captain, said the Redskins don’t have the pieces to just show up and be competitive.

“Every week, we’re struggling to win ballgames,” he said. “We’re going to be in tough ballgames week in and week out. We’re not a great football team. Never have been since I’ve been here. It’s been a long time since the Redskins had a great football team.

“We have to come in here with a workmanlike attitude, a workmanlike mentality and come to practice every day with the mindset of, ‘We must work to win.’ ”

Cooley: ‘We’re fine’

Tight end Chris Cooley cited inconsistency as a reason for the poor offensive performance this year but doesn’t expect the team to splinter under the weight of adversity.

“We’re a close team,” he said. “The thing we have to do is keep our enthusiasm up and come back and keep working hard. It’s Week 4. We’re fine. We just have to figure out a way to win some football games and keep everybody up. We’re not out of anything. It’s unfortunate we lost and ended Detroit’s losing streak. We obviously have some major hurdles to overcome, but we can do that.”

Haynesworth is OK

Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth suffered a strained glute muscle on his right side against Detroit and is expected to play Sunday.

Haynesworth was in Tennessee on a personal matter Monday.

The other starters who missed parts of the Lions game are expected to play. Fletcher (rib), fellow linebacker Brian Orakpo (poked in eye) and fullback Mike Sellers (calf) all returned to the game.

Coach Jim Zorn said running back Clinton Portis wasn’t on the field for the final drive after he was kicked in the calf. It shouldn’t impact Portis’ availability for Sunday.

No big speech

In the aftermath of a loss like Sunday’s in Detroit, Zorn said he won’t have a special motivational speech ready when the team reports for work Wednesday morning.

“I will be real to them; I don’t need to yell at a bunch of men and say, ‘Come on guys, let’s really go now,’ ” Zorn said. “And I don’t need to play a psychological game. The thing I like to do is show them what actually happened and then make changes if necessary, little fine-tune adjustments and find how we can be better next week.”

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