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Redskins' Passing Game Needs a Lift

A week ago, the Redskins were scrutinized for not running the ball well enough.

So, after the offense compiles 296 rushing yards in a 23-20 overtime win over the New York Jets last Sunday, what happens?

The Redskins' passing game is now under scrutiny.

Stats say the scrutiny is justifiable. The passing offense is ranked 26th in the NFL through Week 9.

Quarterback Jason Campbell has completed 133-of-228 passes, a 58.3 percent clip, for 1,520 yards, six touchdowns and seven interceptions. He does not have a touchdown pass to a wide receiver yet this season.

His 74.8 passer rating ranks 25th in the NFL.

"I would have said that would be crazy given all of the talent and ability that we have at wide receiver," Campbell said. "At the same time, once we get into [scoring range], we do run the football very successfully in the red zone. That's what we lean towards sometimes."

With the ground game showing signs of improvement last week, coaches hope that defenses will adjust by bringing safeties closer to the line of scrimmage. That should open up the passing game downfield.

Antwaan Randle El is tied for the team lead in receptions with 27, for a team-high 479 yards. Santana Moss, who has been slowed by groin and heel injuries in recent weeks, has 24 catches for 297 yards.

"We need bigger plays on offense," right tackle Todd Wade said. "Every team points to big plays, and we have the receivers to do it. But the run game should definitely help set that up. We know defenses will bring their safeties down to try to stop the run. If they do that, hopefully we'll take advantage of it."

Added Joe Gibbs: "Certainly getting a couple of long-range passes to our receivers would make a huge difference. We got in the red area a bunch last week, but we had only one touchdown down there. That's always a concern for us."

Veteran wide receiver Keenan McCardell, who has four catches this season in limited action, said that the receivers are able to see the big picture. As the Redskins win, they put their "egos aside and think about the team first," he said.

McCardell added: "We're foaming at the mouth for a touchdown, but we understand that when we make plays, we set things up for later on in the drive. Last Sunday [against the Jets], our running game was going so well, that's what finished the drive off."

Tight end Chris Cooley, who occasionally lines up as a slot wide receiver, has 27 catches for 277 yards and five touchdown grabs.

Cooley has been a reliable target for Campbell on third downs. He has 13 third-down catches for 136 yards and three touchdowns. For the season, Cooley is tied for 10th in the NFL and fourth in the NFC in third-down receptions.


The Redskins were without four starters on the practice fields on Wednesday: linebacker Marcus Washington, cornerback Fred Smoot, defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin and wide receiver Santana Moss.

Joe Gibbs said he expects all four to increase their practice workload later this week as the team gears up for Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles at FedExField.

Washington, who sat out the Jets game, remains slowed by a hamstring injury.

"I did the walk-through [on Wednesday morning] and I spent a lot more time working with the [athletic] trainers," Washington said.

Smoot also has a hamstring injury, forcing him to miss Wednesday's practice. He aggravated the injury during last Sunday's game against the New York Jets.

"It's frustrating because it just acts up on you," Smoot said. "As far as me being able to play, I'm going to play. It's all about not re-injuring it, though."

Griffin sustained a back injury during warm-ups before the Jets game, limiting his playing time.

Moss has a sore heel.

"It's not something that we feel like would probably keep him from practicing later in the week," Gibbs said. "I'm hoping that's what it does, but you never know. I wouldn't think it is something that would hold him back this weekend."


Clinton Portis logged 36 carries in last Sunday's game against the Jets, which tied a career mark. He also accomplished the feat on Oct. 17, 2004 in a game against the Chicago Bears.

Portis said he wasn't concerned about the heavy workload.

"If they call it, I'll run it," he said. "If I can't run it, putt Ladell [Betts] in there. At the same time, I'm 26. I think the wear and tear on my body will come one day, but right now, while I can take it, you might as well use me."

Said Joe Gibbs: "I wasn't aware of his carries and the yardage during the game, to be truthful. I can tell you this, during the week, he kind of set his jaw and said, 'Give it to me.' And we certainly did."

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