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News & Notes: 'D' Keys On Alexander

It's safe to say Seahawks' running back Shaun Alexander has the Redskins' attention.

Just ask Sean Taylor.

"He always produces," Taylor said. "We just have to step up to the play and be ready to accept him with open arms when the Seahawks come into FedExField."

Hopefully, those "open arms" will wrap up Alexander and tackle him when the Redskins take on the Seahawks at FedExField this Sunday. Game time is 1 p.m.

Stopping Alexander appears to be the primary focus of the Redskins' defense this week. The Pro Bowl back has 357 rushing yards on 64 carries this season. He rushed for four touchdowns last week against Arizona, en route to claiming NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors, and he runs behind a pair of Pro Bowl linemen in left tackle Walter Jones and left guard Steve Hutchinson.

"We have to stop the run and make them pass," Taylor said.

Said assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams: "Shaun is on fire--he is really playing well. Their offensive line is playing very confidently."

Seahawks' head coach Mike Holmgren, long a proponent of the West Coast offense, appears to be leaning on Alexander and the ground game more now.

"In Mike's history, his teams have been more pass-dominant than run-dominant," Williams said. "He may be switching all of a sudden. We have to be prepared for it. We'll have to commit numbers and techniques that say, 'We want to stop the run.'"

When the Seahawks are forced to pass, Williams is wary of quarterback Matt Hasselbeck's resourcefulness and the speed of wide receiver Darrell Jackson.

In three games this season, Jackson has 22 receptions for 321 yards and one touchdown.

"[Jackson] can take it downtown on you and he has been able to make the difficult catches for them, Williams said.

Taylor won't be fazed no matter who he matches up against during the course of the game.

"We're going to step forward and take the challenge," Taylor said. "We'll be at FedExField on Sunday to show them who we are."


For a player who has compiled impressive statistics through his three seasons in the NFL, Clinton Portis surprised everyone on Wednesday when he commented that he focuses less and less on his individual stats.

"After my first two seasons, I was miserable due to not doing anything in the playoffs," Portis told reporters on Thursday. "In my first season with Denver, we didn't make the playoffs. In my second season, we went up against Indianapolis and got blown out. I came here next, and we didn't make it to the playoffs again."

In those three seasons, Portis rushed for 4,414 yards on 906 carries, a 4.9 yards-per-carry average, and 34 touchdowns.

"No matter what a player's regular season stats are, the people with the best stats are the ones who make it to the Super Bowl," Portis said.

One stat that Portis aims to improve on this season is rushing touchdowns. Last year, he logged just five, while rushing for 1,315 yards on 343 carries on the season. This year, he has no touchdowns.

In 2002-03, he led the Broncos with 29 rushing touchdowns.

Portis's counterpart on Sunday, Alexander, had four rushing touchdowns last week on his way to being named NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

"You dream of those days," Portis said, referring to Alexander's four touchdowns. "We just have to keep plugging away. Once I get in the end zone, hopefully it creates an effect where everyone gets in."

So far this season, Portis has rushed for 173 yards on 38 carries, a 4.6 yards-per-carry average.

Of course, there will be more to hear from Portis next week. That's when Portis begins preparation to play his former team, the Denver Broncos on Oct. 9 at Invesco Field at Mile High.

"Next week, we'll have an opportunity to focus on Denver," Portis said. "If we overlook Seattle, we won't be on the rollercoaster that we want to be on going into Denver next week. You can't look ahead because you then you get beat."

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