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WP:In Reduced Role, Cartwright Can't Start the Running Game


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Redskins Notebook

In Reduced Role, Cartwright Can't Start the Running Game

By Mark Maske

Washington Post Staff Writer

Monday, November 17, 2003; Page D12

CHARLOTTE, Nov. 16 -- Rock Cartwright didn't start and didn't take over as the Washington Redskins' featured runner in their 20-17 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

Cartwright led the Redskins with 32 rushing yards but, with nine carries, had one fewer rushing attempt than starting tailback Trung Canidate. He also lost a first-quarter fumble at the Carolina 1-yard line.

"I thought I was in, and somebody got the ball out," a dejected Cartwright said. "I cost us the game. I'm at a loss for words right now."

The Redskins had contemplated starting Cartwright at tailback after he ran for 81 yards on 13 carries a week ago in a win at home over the Seattle Seahawks. But they started Canidate at tailback and Bryan Johnson at fullback. Canidate has been ineffective since his return from a sprained ankle and ran for only 18 yards Sunday.

Cartwright had been looking forward to his matchup with Panthers tailback Stephen Davis, the two-time Pro Bowl selection for the Redskins who befriended Cartwright last season. Davis had an early fumble and averaged only 3.3 yards per carry, but had a 25-yard catch on a fourth-down play on Carolina's winning drive and scored the disputed go-ahead touchdown with slightly more than a minute to play.

"Stephen came up big in the fourth quarter," Cartwright said. "He played the way he always plays. He's a great player."

A Costly Breakdown

The Redskins depend on their linebackers to make tackles all over the field. But they also have been plagued by their linebackers being caught out of position on key plays, and it happened again Sunday. Davis was left uncovered on his fourth-and-one reception, which came on the play after the Redskins called a timeout with 2 minutes 50 seconds to go. According to Davis, the culprit was middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter.

"I saw him out of the corner of my eye and he was going to get caught up in the line," Davis said. "I thought that if I could get out, then I would be wide open. I got out and Jake [Delhomme, the Panthers' quarterback] made a great throw and it was wide open. I am probably the last option on that play."

Some of the Redskins' frustrations apparently spilled over during the game. According to one observer, linebacker LaVar Arrington vented at the defensive coaches, including coordinator George Edwards, on the sideline and even removed himself from the lineup briefly. One team official said that Arrington was upset that the defensive calls were coming into the huddle late. Arrington refused to speak to reporters after the game . . . .

Spurrier said that he allowed offensive coordinator Hue Jackson to serve as the main offensive play-caller for a second straight game. Asked how much he contributed to the play-calling, Spurrier said: "Just little suggestions. That's about it." . . .

Redskins tackles Jon Jansen and Chris Samuels held Carolina defensive ends Julius Peppers and Mike Rucker without a sack, although they pressured quarterback Patrick Ramsey several times. But the Redskins had trouble containing defensive tackle Kris Jenkins, the University of Maryland product who reached the Pro Bowl last season. He had two of the Panthers' three sacks, with the other one coming by cornerback Terry Cousin on a blitz. Jenkins beat Lennie Friedman, making his second consecutive start for the injured Larry Moore at center, for one sack and got around right tackle Jansen on a stunt for the other. . . .

Regan Upshaw made a third straight start at right defensive end for the Redskins, ahead of Bruce Smith. Smith remained half a sack behind Reggie White's NFL career record. . . . Place kicker John Hall's missed 46-yard field goal was his first miss of the season from closer than 48 yards. . . .

Redskins safety Matt Bowen had an active day, delivering several jarring hits -- one of which caused a fumble -- and getting an interception. But he couldn't dislodge the ball from the grasp of Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith on a key 30-yard reception on Carolina's winning drive. Smith made the catch between Bowen and cornerback Champ Bailey.

"Steve Smith, I hit that guy as hard as I could and he held on to the ball," Bowen said.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

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