- The Washington Times - Monday, September 17, 2012

The damage caused by the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty Joshua Morgan committed at the end of the Washington Redskins’ loss to St. Louis on Sunday can’t be undone, but the gaffe can be used as a learning tool going forward.

That’s coach Mike Shanahan’s plan, at least. During a team meeting Monday, he reiterated the importance of players maintaining their composure.

When Morgan rose from the turf after being tackled at the St. Louis 29-yard line, a yard short of the first down, Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan shoved him in the face. Morgan retaliated by throwing the ball at Finnegan.

The Redskins were penalized 15 yards and pushed out of field goal range while trailing 31-28 with 1:18 remaining.

“You take a look at the film and see a guy pushing you in the face and all of a sudden a guy loses his composure and the other guy is walking away,” Shanahan said. “When you throw the football at him, he’s laughing. You understand what he’s doing. That’s part of a young guy growing up.”

Morgan was contrite after the game.

“I should have just kept my calm in a critical situation,” he said.

He must have repeated a variation of that at least 20 times during the postgame media session.

Shanahan did not individually address Morgan about the penalty, but Morgan was present at Monday’s team meeting.

Asked how he determines whether to discipline a player for such an error, Shanahan gave no indication whether Morgan’s playing time would be affected in Sunday’s home opener against Cincinnati.

“You’re always going to play the best players, the guys that you think give you the best chance to win,” Shanahan said. “What you’re trying to do is make sure that it doesn’t reoccur again for your whole football team.”

Long FG attempt ‘instinct’ call

Shanahan on Monday stood by his decision to have Billy Cundiff attempt a 62-yard field goal on fourth and 16 in the final 90 seconds instead of having the offense run another play.

Cundiff made only 1 of 9 field goal attempts from 50 yards or beyond over the past three seasons. His kick Sunday landed in the end zone.

“I just went with my own instinct on that one,” Shanahan said. “You don’t put a guy in a situation that you don’t think he’s ready for. But when you see somebody do it in practice and you see how far it goes over, you look at the environment, you look at his kickoffs and you know the strength of the leg.”

Meriweather, Davis uncertain

Safety Brandon Meriweather hopes to make his regular-season debut in the Redskins’ home opener Sunday. He missed the first two games with a sprained PCL and MCL in his left knee.

“I’m going to try,” Meriweather said Monday morning. “Every day getting better. I’m working hard to get back and help my team.”

Meriweather exercised on the field with teammates before Sunday’s loss to the St. Louis Rams. He hasn’t played since injuring his left knee Aug. 18 during the preseason game against the Chicago Bears. Meriweather was approaching full health before the regular season began, but he sprained two ligaments during practice Sept. 3.

“I can say I’m better than I was last week,” Meriweather said. “Every day we try something different. Right now we’re more focused on straight ahead and the lateral stuff.”

Tight end Fred Davis should be subjected to the NFL’s protocol for players who suffer concussions after absorbing a helmet-to-helmet hit in the fourth quarter, Shanahan said.

“That was a pretty good hit, probably as hard of a hit as you’re going to get to the head,” he said.

• Rich Campbell can be reached at rcampbell@washingtontimes.com.

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