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News & Notes: Solving the Penalty Problem

In Week 1 against Minnesota, the Redskins were penalized seven times for 55 yards. In Week 2 at Dallas, they were flagged 11 times for 117 yards. Last Sunday in Houston, they drew 12 penalties for 126 yards.

Those figures--and that the Redskins' penalty problems are getting worse, not better--are an increasing concern for head coach Joe Gibbs.

Through three weeks of the regular season, the Redskins' total of 30 penalties for 298 yards is the worst in the NFL.

"That is reflected by the head coach," Gibbs said, in effect accepting responsibility for the infractions. "Teams that are disciplined don't have penalties."

The Redskins continue to put an emphasis on avoiding penalties in practice. For the last three seasons, referees have been a staple at practice sessions. The team rolls out a game clock during practice to avoid delay-of-game penalties.

In recent weeks, coaches have shown a "penalty tape" from games and practices to further emphasize the importance of penalties. The session is not meant to embarrass players, but to help them understand the rules, Gibbs said.

"The odds are, if you go in and have another game like we had on Sunday with penalties, it'll bite you," Gibbs said. "It already has this year for us. It's cost us."

During the Redskins' 10-play, 82-yard touchdown drive late in the first half, the Redskins were penalized four times--three holding penalties and one false start. Adding in the four penalties, the drive was a 14-play, 117-yard drive.

Gibbs was particularly frustrated with the first penalty of the Texans game, a holding penalty on Demetric Evans on the opening kickoff. It pinned the Redskins deep in their own territory to start the game.

Gibbs also cited a 15-yard taunting penalty called on Clinton Portis in the third quarter.

"It wasn't much [of an infraction]," Gibbs said of Portis's penalty. "We'll study that. It's the new rule that you can't get in somebody's face. To be quite truthful, it was pretty minimal. But it's what is being called and we have to be aware of it."



Mark Brunell sustained a laceration on his throwing elbow during Sunday's game, and it was wrapped up on Monday. Joe Gibbs said there was no indication of any swelling, a positive sign in the healing process.

Regarding the injury, Gibbs said: "It's not a big deal."

Meantime, cornerback Shawn Springs remains day-to-day as he continues his return from abdominal surgery last month. Last week, Springs had returned to practice, only to experience a setback with a minor groin injury.

Coaches and athletic trainers will closely monitor Springs' progress when he returns to practice.

Also, defensive tackle Joe Salave'a is expected to be available to practice this week. Salave'a sat out Sunday's game against the Houston Texans. He was replaced in the starting lineup by rookie Kedric Golston.



Clinton Portis's 86 rushing yards allowed him to eclipse 6,000 yards for his career. He currently stands at 6,055 career rushing yards. Overall on Sunday, Portis amassed a total of 164 combined yards, including 86 rushing yards and 78 receiving yards.

In addition, Portis's 74-yard reception on a first quarter shuffle pass was the longest pass reception of his career.

Ladell Betts's 124 rushing yards was a new career-high, eclipsing his previous single-game best of 118 yards set against the Minnesota Vikings on Jan. 2, 2005.

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