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TSN-Redskins-Panthers Matchup Part 1


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Why To Watch

Washington coach Steve Spurrier allowed offensive coordinator Hue Jackson to call the plays Sunday with just two exceptions. Spurrier called the play in which wide receiver Rod Gardner, on a lateral-pass play, threw the game-winning touchdown to running back Trung Canidate. Spurrier also called a running play on a fourth down in the fourth quarter that resulted in a first down. The plan worked so well that Spurrier says Jackson will continue to call the majority of the plays. ... The Redskins' 27-point performance was their second-highest total this year and ended a four-game losing streak. ...

Washington defensive end Bruce Smith's sack Sunday moves him within one-half of a sack of Reggie White's career record. Smith is playing fewer snaps these days, but he has shown better burst off the line recently and could break the record this week. ...

It's unknown if Carolina running back Stephen Davis (ankle) will play after missing Sunday's game against Tampa Bay. If Davis, who has 992 yards rushing, can play, he should pass the 1,000-yard mark against the team that released him in the offseason. ...

Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme had just two starts before this season, but he is 6-2 as Carolina's starter. Last week, he engineered a last-minute touchdown drive against Tampa Bay's vaunted defense to give Carolina a commanding three-game lead in the NFC South.

Redskins Keys For Success

1. Use three-step drops and change pass-blocking schemes. Washington didn't surrender a sack Sunday, but Seattle didn't blitz much. The Redskins' line, however, has problems adjusting to pressure. Carolina defensive coordinator Mike Trgovac won't leave his cornerbacks in man-to-man coverage often but will blitz linebackers at times. Redskins coaches can help quarterback Patrick Ramsey and the offensive line by using three-step drops, which allow Ramsey to get rid of the ball quickly, and changing blocking schemes. Switching protections will prevent Trgovac from focusing on any one weakness and keep the Panthers' defensive line off balance.

2. Don't bite on play-action fakes. Carolina uses a ball-control offense and has shown it will stay with the running game even when it is struggling and when Davis is out. However, the Panthers must keep the Redskins honest, and the continued development of Delhomme allows them to occasionally throw downfield. With Carolina's running game forcing Washington's safeties to play closer to the line, cornerbacks Champ Bailey and Fred Smoot must be disciplined. Bailey and Smoot cannot allow Carolina wide receivers Muhsin Muhammad and Steve Smith, who both have excellent speed, to get behind them. If Bailey and Smoot give up some big plays downfield, Washington would have to shift its safeties back and effectively create space for Carolina's running game.

3. Use trick plays, reverses and misdirection runs to open up the running game. The Panthers' defensive line has the size to limit power runner Rock Cartwright's production between the tackles. They also have the range at linebacker to prevent scatback Trung Canidate from reaching the perimeter too frequently, but Carolina's front seven can be overaggressive. Using Laveranues Coles on reverses and occasionally mixing in a trick play would force the Panthers to maintain gap responsibilities or risk big plays. When Carolina's front seven starts to react rather than attack, Cartwright and Canidate should be more productive.

Panthers Keys For Success

1. Give Delhomme time to read the coverage. Bailey and Smoot are excellent cornerbacks, but there is little depth behind them. The Redskins should have trouble with the Panthers' multiple-receiver sets. This will be especially true if wide receiver Kevin Dyson plays in his first game since tearing his Achilles tendon in the offseason. Delhomme is intelligent and reads defenses well, but he struggles when forced to throw into tight spots. Carolina's offensive line must give Delhomme time to go through progressions, find the favorable man-to-man matchup and set his feet to throw.

2. Take advantage of Washington's weak interior offensive line. Washington placed left guard Dave Fiore (knee) on injured reserve Nov. 4, and rookie backup Derrick Dockery has struggled in his place. In addition, center Larry Moore (sprained foot) missed Sunday's game and might not be able to play this week. Defensive tackles Brentson Buckner and Kris Jenkins have great bulk and power. They must clog up the middle and allow the linebackers to flow to the ball more freely. In addition, a good push up the middle should force the immobile Ramsey to abandon the pocket and give the explosive ends a shorter path to a sack. Buckner and Jenkins are effective bull rushers who can collapse the pocket.

3. Spread the field with three-receiver sets and then run. Bailey is playing with a shoulder injury, Smoot is playing with a chest injury and Rashad Bauman is battling an ankle injury. In addition, free safety Matt Bowen's status for this game is unknown after sustaining a concussion last week. With the Redskins' three top cornerbacks and a safety banged up, the Panthers should spread the field with three-receiver sets and force Washington to use nickel personnel. That will make it difficult for the Redskins to play eight men in the box because it leaves them vulnerable to downfield pass.

Injury Update


RB Ladell Betts: Arm (11/11).

Coach Steve Spurrier told the Washington Post that Betts probably will miss another week because of his broken forearm.

RB Bryan Johnson: Concussion (11/11).

Johnson suffered a concussion Sunday and probably won't practice this week, according to the Washington Post.

QB Patrick Ramsey: Finger/forearm (11/8).

Ramsey had to come out of last week's game vs. the Cowboys twice, but he'll be starting vs. the Seahawks on Sunday.

RB Chad Morton: (11/8).

Coach Steve Spurrier told reporters that he doesn't expect Morton to play this Sunday. Even if he did play, Morton wouldn't have a large enough role to justify starting him.

RB Sultan McCullough: Hand (11/8).

The team's website reported that McCullough likely will be available to play despite his broken hand.

RB Trung Canidate: Ankle (11/8).

Listed as questionable on the injury report, Canidate has practiced all week and could start vs. the Seahawks, the team's website reported.

Official NFL report: DOUBTFUL: RB Ladell Betts (arm) and C Larry Moore (foot). QUESTIONABLE: CB Rashad Bauman (ankle), DT Jermaine Haley (hand/shoulder), S Andre Lott (ankle), RB Sultan McCullough (hand) and RB Chad Morton (ankle). PROBABLE: LB LaVar Arrington (knee/hand), CB Champ Bailey (wrist/shoulder), S Matt Bowen (concussion), WR Laveranues Coles (toe), RB Bryan Johnson (concussion), DE Bruce Smith (hand/knee) and CB Fred Smoot (chest).


RB Stephen Davis: Ankle (11/13).

Davis (ankle) is listed as probable. Frankly, he would have to be hit by an 18-wheeler to keep from playing the whole game against his former team Sunday. If he is hit by an 18-wheeler, expect him to play just one half and still be worth a start.

WR Kevin Dyson: Achilles (11/11).

Dyson's status remains day to day, according to the Charlotte Observer. He is back in practice but still not 100 percent from an Achilles' tendon injury.

Official NFL report: PROBABLE: RB Stephen Davis (ankle), LB Jason Kyle (ankle) and DE Mike Rucker (ankle).

On to Part 2.....................................

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