Weeks 2 and 4 may be the most significant on the 2005 schedule for Redskins cornerback Shawn Springs.
First, he went up against the Cowboys in Dallas, the team for which his father played. Next, versus Seattle at FedExField, Springs will face the franchise for which he starred for seven seasons.
What's more, on Sunday, Springs and the Redskins will take on the challenge of one of the best running backs they'll see in 2005. The schedule is loaded with names such as Priest Holmes, Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, LaDainian Tomlinson and Tiki Barber.
But initially for the defense that ranked No. 3 overall in the NFL a year ago is the matter of trying to shut down Shaun Alexander, who rushed for 140 yards and four TDs in the Seahawks' 37-12 romp over Arizona last week.
"You can't let Shaun get started," said Springs, a teammate of Alexander's for four years. "He's the type of guy where you might get him a couple of times for a negative run and then he'll bust one. They have a pretty good offensive unit, so it's hard to just focus on Shaun with Matt [Hasselbeck] and Darrell Jackson playing the way they are."
Of Hasselbeck, Springs added: "Matt has come a long way. He's a Pro Bowl quarterback now, and they have some offensive weapons with a big tight end like Jerramy Stevens and two good receivers with Bobby Engram and Jackson. So, Matt has some weapons around him."
The older brother of former Redskins quarterback Tim Hasselbeck--now with the Giants--has the Seahawks of Mike Holmgrem off to a 2-1 start.
"Their running back scored four times last week and is right at the top of his game," Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs said in reference to the 5-11, 225-pound Alexander, who played his college ball at Alabama with Chris Samuels and Cornelius Griffin. "They probably feel like their offensive line is one of the best in the league. It will certainly be a huge challenge for us there."
In their most recent visit to FedExField, on Nov. 9, 2003, the Seahawks dominated early but wound up on the losing end by a 27-20 count. In that game, Alexander, who scored a team-record 20 TDs and made his second Pro Bowl last year, carried 22 times for 94 yards and a score.
Said Gibbs: "Seattle has a lot of confidence. We're going to have our hands full and we all know that."
A year ago, three backs rushed for 100-yard games versus Washington: Jamal Lewis (116), Rudi Johnson (102) and Jerome Bettis (100).
Footnote: The Redskins lost to Baltimore, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, respectively.
The Bears' Thomas Jones (15 carries, 31 yards, one TD) and the Cowboys' Julius Jones (22 carries, 81 yards) were warm-ups for the Redskins as they prepare to meet the first Pro Bowl rusher they'll see in 2005.
Looking ahead, they can't let Shaun Alexander have a big day if they're hoping to stay among the ranks of the undefeated.