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Redskins Report


Free agents paying off for Gibbs faster than he expected

Virtually every unit on the Washington Redskins is loaded with them, and Joe Gibbs couldn’t be happier.

They are free agents, the NFL’s version of hired guns brought in from other franchises by teams hoping to create a quick fix.

Not even halfway through Gibbs’ second season back as Redskins coach, it’s working better than he ever could have imagined.

In Sunday’s 52-17 victory over San Francisco, which boosted the Redskins to 4-2, receiver David Patten caught two passes for 56 yards. Guard Randy Thomas and center Casey Rabach anchored an offensive line that led the Redskins to 204 rushing yards.

On defense, linebacker Marcus Washington had five tackles and forced a fumble. Cornerback Shawn Springs had three tackles and helped hold 49ers receivers to just 92 yards. Phillip Daniels had just one tackle, but recovered a fumble. Cornelius Griffin also had a tackle before injuring his hip.

Beyond the 49ers game, all of them are among the team’s leaders on and off the field.

Each was highly sought after by other teams when they entered the market. Each chose the Redskins, whether for the money or the chance to play under Gibbs or defensive coaches Gregg Williams and Greg Blache.

“I love free agency for the fact that you can go out and add real quality people who have played in this league,” Gibbs said Monday. “It eliminates some of the guesswork. We all know there’s a risk going from college to pro; we see it every year with guys who are supposed to be stars who don’t make it.”

Other free agents, less highly valued when they entered the market, also have had an impact on Washington’s success. Linebacker Warrick Holdman, cornerback Walt Harris and defensive tackle Joe Salave’a are starting on one of the league’s best defenses. Tight end Mike Sellers’ two touchdowns Sunday give him four for the season.

While most of the attention falls on trade acquisitions Mark Brunell, Clinton Portis and Santana Moss, or draft picks Sean Taylor and LaVar Arrington, shrewd personnel decisions by Gibbs and staff are a big reason the Redskins are locked in a three-way tie for first in the NFC East.

“They add a lot to our team,” Gibbs said. “We didn’t have that the first time I was here and I tell you, I like that deal.”

Skins wary of two former players now with Giants

The first thing the Redskins coaches did after finishing their review of Sunday’s game tape was to configure a plan to change signal calls, hand signals and anything else a couple of former Redskins now with the New York Giants could recognize and use against them on Sunday.

Quarterback Tim Hasselbeck, who played for the Redskins in 2003-04, knows Gibbs’ offense inside and out. Meanwhile, linebacker Antonio Pierce, who left Washington after last season for a free-agent deal with the Giants, was one of the brightest players the defensive coaches said they ever ran across.

“I hate it when someone who used to play for us is on another team,” Gibbs said.

Quick kicks …

LB LaVar Arrington’s nine-tackle performance against the 49ers doesn’t necessarily guarantee him more playing time, Gibbs said. “It’s a work in progress,” he said. “It’s not something we can just make part of the game plan. It just so happened that we used one of the packages LaVar was in a lot. He’s continued to make progress, and I’d like to see him play a lot.” ... Griffin won’t practice much this week because of his hip injury, but should play against his former team. Salave’a has plantar fasciitis and is walking with a pronounced limp. ... No decision has been made yet on K John Hall, who is close to recovering from a quad injury. But one would think Gibbs would want to take advantage of Hall’s experience kicking at tricky, windy Giants Stadium while he was with the Jets, as opposed to rookie Nick Novak. ... The Redskins scored five times in as many trips inside the 49ers 25 and had seven plays that gained 20 or more yards. ... The Giants have opened as 3-point favorites.

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