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News & Notes: Defense Focused On Cooling Off Brees


It happened so fast.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees took advantage of blown coverage by the New England Patriots secondary and--in a blur--connected on a 75-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Devery Henderson.

It was the signature play of the Saints' 38-17 dismantling of the Patriots last Monday Night at the Superdome.

Yes, the Redskins took notice.

Defensive assistant Jerry Gray says that the Redskins will need to play sound, mistake-free football in order to slow down Brees and the Saints' high-powered offense this Sunday at FedExField.

New Orleans comes into the Week 13 game with the NFL's top-ranked offense and fourth-ranked passing offense.

Brees, an MVP candidate, has completed 68.8 percent of his passes and thrown 27 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He has been sacked just 14 times.

"You have to be very disciplined," Gray said. "You have to make sure that Drew is not throwing the ball on time. That's where he does a lot of damage. He is making a lot of plays and he has a lot of confidence."

Getting pressure on Brees is key, obviously.

"You've got to get in his face," rookie defensive end Brian Orakpo said.

The Redskins are ninth in the NFL with 27 sacks this season.

Just as important, though, is the different looks the defense gives Brees at the line of scrimmage.

"The thing you have to do is you can't just sit back and play zone, and you can't play man the whole time," Gray said. "It makes you basically play a strategic game. You have to make [Brees] guess what you're doing. And if you get him a little bit off rhythm, then that may give our guys a chance to get there."

Added head coach Jim Zorn: "[Brees] makes it hard because he's going to throw the ball even when the [receiver] is covered. When the ball arrives, you have to have the best possible position and you have to be active when the ball gets there. That's the challenge playing against Drew Brees this year."

The challenge is more difficult given Brees' versatile receiving options.

Brees has been effective in spreading the ball around to different receivers, including wide receivers Marques Colston and Henderson and tight end Jeremy Shockey.

Running backs Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas and Mike Bell are active in both the ground game and the passing offense. They have combined for 51 catches, 356 receiving yards and three touchdowns.

"You don't just see the receivers catching a lot of balls, you see everyone catch a lot of balls. That's what makes them more dangerous. You can't just say Reggie Bush is going to do this, because they have two other veteran backs that can run the ball downhill and catch the ball on screens. Those guys make real tough runs after the catch.

"You have to play really sound on defense. You can't make any mistakes or they'll make you pay for it."

In terms of health, the Redskins' defense could get one of its top starters back for the Saints game.

Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth is expected to play after missing the last two games with an ankle injury.

Hayneworth was limited in practice both days this week, though.

"I think Albert's going to play," Zorn said. "It's a fine line--we don't want to re-injure it. We're just [increasing his workload] and it looks like he's going to be available."

Haynesworth's presence should aid the Redskins' defense, ranked eighth in the league through 11 games.

"That's a good thing Albert is going to play this week," Gray said. "Now you can look around and say, 'Okay, what are they going to do with Albert?' If that is the case, then it becomes, 'What are you going to do with Brian [Orakpo]?' or 'What are you going to do with [Andre] Carter?' It makes us a little more dangerous."

Cornerback DeAngelo Hall remains sidelined with a sprained knee.

Zorn reiterated on Thursday that Hall would likely be listed as "doubtful" for the Saints game.


Jeremy Jarmon was in the Redskins' locker room on Wednesday, walking on crutches three days after suffering a knee ligament injury.

He was placed on the team's injured reserve list on Monday and scheduled for surgery.

Jarmon said he was "optimistic" for a full recovery following the surgery and he expected to be back for next season.

"I'm going to use this time off to get stronger in my upper body and just continue to work on other things," he said.

The Redskins signed Rob Jackson from the practice squad to take Jarmon's place on the roster.

Veteran Renaldo Wynn, who played for the Saints in 2007, could see playing time as well.


Santana Moss produced 2008's signature play when the Redskins hosted the New Orleans Saints in Week 2 that year.

With 3:38 left in the game, Moss caught a 67-yard touchdown pass from Jason Campbell to spark the Redskins to a 29-24 win. Moss ran a post pattern against then-rookie cornerback Tracy Porter. Campbell stepped up in the pocket to avoid the rush and lofted the deep pass to Moss.

Moss also caught an 8-yard pass with 1:58 left in the game to seal the Redskins' win.

In two career games against New Orleans, Moss has caught 10 passes for 201 yards, including 67- and 31-yard touchdown catches.


Jerry Gray was asked on Wednesday if he was disappointed to lose out on the University of Memphis head coaching job.

"No, not really," he replied. "I thought they made a decision and they picked the guy they wanted. Good lukck to them."

Gray was a leading candidate for the job, which eventually went to LSU assistant head coach Larry Porter.

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