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www.sportingnews.com/nfl/teams/redskins/20020908.html

Matthews does all that's needed of him

Redskins Team Report

By Paul Woody/Richmond Times-Dispatch

September 8, 2002 POSITIONAL ANALYSIS

Quarterback: Shane Matthews executed the offense almost perfectly. He hit deep passes when they were there, dumped the ball off when there were no other options and had just one bad play. He recognized defenses and got the team into the best play available. Grade: A-

Running backs: Stephen Davis picked up where he left off last season. He made a yard or two when nothing was there and got seven or eight yards when something was there. He was an effective clock-killer when the team needed to keep the ball. Davis also proved to be a sure-handed receiver as a safety valve over the middle. Fullbacks Bryan Johnson and Rock Cartwright blocked well, but Johnson needs to hold onto passes that hit him in the hands. Grade: B+

Receivers: Rod Gardner flashed some Pro Bowl form, using his size, strength and sure hands to overpower the Cardinals. Derrius Thompson ran sharp routes and read the defense well. Kevin Lockett was an effective third receiver, and tight end Zeron Flemister was solid as a receiver and blocker. Grade: A

Offensive line: Chris Samuels' sprained ankle held up well, and he only had one or two bad plays. David Loverne started at left guard and played well enough to stay there the entire game. Larry Moore was a solid blocker and made good calls at the line. Brenden Stai played exceptionally well considering his short time with the team and the number of audibles he has to process. Jon Jansen gave his usual solid performance, even though he had an uncharacteristic fourth-quarter holding call on a play that would have given the team a first down on a third-down play. Grade: B

Defensive line: Bruce Smith flushed Jake Plummer out of the pocket on several occasions, but no one could finish off the sack, and Smith never could quite get there to finish it himself. Plummer had plenty of time to throw, except late in the game when he had no option but to throw on every down. The running game was kept under reasonable control. Grade: C

Linebackers: Jessie Armstead was steady and aggressive. LaVar Arrington was quietly effective but did not come up with any high-impact plays. Jeremiah Trotter helped keep the running game under control. Grade: C

Secondary: Fred Smoot had a pitched battle with David Boston most of the afternoon, and both could claim a victory. Boston had his typical big day, but Smoot held him in check for a good portion of the game. Boston was the only effective receiver the Cardinals had. Champ Bailey made the interception that finally shut down the Cardinals, and he shut down Frank Sanders all afternoon. David Terrell could have been better in support of Smoot. Grade: B

Special teams: Brett Conway's injured kicking leg proved to be a major shortcoming on kickoffs, but the team was able to overcome that. Bryan Barker had his best game as a punter since he joined the team. The kickoff coverage unit was put in bad situations because of Conway's injury, and was fortunate to give up just a 20-yard average on those returns. Punt coverage was fine, and Jacquez Green was adequate as a punt returner. Grade: C

Coaching: Steve Spurrier's game plan was excellent, and Steve Spurrier Jr. had the receivers ready. Kim Helton did a good job of getting an offensive line that lacked continuity ready for the opening game. The defensive coaches never found a way to get pressure on Plummer but did a good job of containing everyone else except Boston. Grade: B

SUNDAY'S INJURIES

K Brett Conway: Strained quadriceps

Analysis: Conway is headed for injured reserve and probably has kicked his last football for the team. The team will hold tryouts, with James Tuthill, who kicked for the team during the preseason, in the mix for the job.

LB Eddie Mason: Separated right shoulder

Analysis: Mason has had this problem before. He has been able to play through it so far. He's a backup linebacker, so the team would not be completely hamstrung if he can't play. But his absence would mean the linebacker corps, already thin, will have to scramble to replace him. Kevin Mitchell has shown he's capable of playing any position, though, and can fill in. Mason's primary value is as a special teams player, and the team would have to turn to a younger, less experienced player if Mason is out.

DT/DE Carl Powell: Right knee contusion

Analysis: Powell was able to return after suffering the injury, but this situation bears watching. The team needs him to relieve Bruce Smith, Daryl Gardener and Dan Wilkinson.

RB Stephen Davis: Strained groin

Analysis: This is not a serious injury, and Davis should be ready to go Monday against the Eagles.

HTTR,

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