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Redskins' Defense Keys In On Rams' Jackson


After holding two of the league's premiere running backs--Brian Westbrook and Marion Barber--to a combined 59 yards rushing, the Redskins' defense will once again have its hands full on Sunday with the Rams' Steven Jackson.

Jackson, who has surpassed the 1,000-yard barrier each of the last three seasons, possesses a combination of speed and power that makes him one of the elite backs in the league.

"He is a lot like [New York Giants running back] Brandon Jacobs, but with more speed, so once he breaks the line he is gone," defensive tackle Lorenzo Alexander said.

Alexander played against Jackson while the two were at Cal and Oregon State, respectively, and knows how dangerous the back can be.

"You have to come with a physical mindset that you are going to attack him because he is going to bring it all four quarters," Alexander said.

Jackson is no stranger to the Redskins' defense.

The last time the two teams met, Jackson rushed for 150 yards and one touchdown. He also caught six passes for 102 yards and another touchdown.

"He is a home run hitting type of back and if we don't recognize that and play up to our level, we can be in for a shock," defensive coordinator Greg Blache said.

The Redskins know the key to stopping Jackson will be hitting him with multiple defenders and not relying on one guy to bring him down.

"There is no specific game plan, you just have to tackle," said linebacker H.B. Blades, who will be asked to fill in for Marcus Washington for a second straight week if Washington's hamstring does not improve.

"We are going to have to gang tackle him, we can't let just one guy take on that big load by himself," cornerback Carlos Rogers said.

Rogers believes the attitude with which Jackson plays the game is one of the reasons why he is so tough to bring down.

Asked about taking on the bruising back in the open field, Rogers laughed and said he will be aiming for Jackson's legs.

In the passing game, Jackson has become a favorite target for quarterback Marc Bulger, who is returning to the staring lineup after one game on the bench.

With 20 receptions, Jackson is one of only four running backs in the league to lead his team in that category.

Needless to say, former Redskins assistant head coach-offense and current Rams offensive coordinator Al Saunders finds a way to get the ball to his talented back.

Although they will be facing a formidable foe in Jackson, the Redskins defense is no slouch.

Through five weeks, Washington has played the NFL's first-, fourth-, fifth-, third- and ninth-ranked offenses and held them all to their lowest yardage totals of the season.

Ranked ninth in the NFL against the run, Blache's unit has allowed 68.3 rushing yards per game over the last four weeks.

The front four could get a spark this week if defensive end Jason Taylor is able to return to the line-up.

Taylor, who has missed the last two weeks after having minor surgery on his calf, practiced for the first time on Thursday. He is itching to get back onto the field.

With or without Taylor, the Redskins' defensive line knows they must fill their gaps and not let Jackson get into the open field.

"The most important thing is to have a solid seven-man front," said defensive end Andre Carter. "We can't allow those gaps to open to the point where running backs can get through and get a 20- or 30-yard gain.

"As a group, we always communicate well. That's a philosophy of ours. We work on it during the beginning of practices, and then we carry it on into Sunday."

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