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Youth Is Served In Redskins' Secondary

Fred Smoot and Carlos Rogers had developed a strong bond in the last few months, and Smoot was genuinely sad to see Rogers sidelined for the season due to a knee ligament injury.

"I was having a lot of fun playing with him," Smoot said this week. "It's a shame. I think Carlos will be fine--he's a strong person."

Smoot, the seven-year vet, is most directly impacted by Rogers' injury. He is expected to slip into a starting role again, opposite Shawn Springs.

Smoot has been slowed by a lingering hamstring injury this season. He has been sidelined for three games this season.

With Rogers out, Smoot is putting pressure on himself to get back. He expects to play in this Sunday's game against the New York Jets.

"I have to get healthy, point blank," Smoot said. "It's important for me to get back."

After Springs and Smoot, the Redskins have eight-year veteran David Macklin to rely on when offenses line up with three and four wide receivers.

The Redskins' pass defense is ranked 17th in the NFL following the 52-7 defeat to New England. That's an improvement over last season, when the unit finished 29th. Team officials made a point to upgrade the talent last offseason.

Now the depth will be tested with Rogers out.

In previous years, when the Redskins suffered injuries at any position, they usually work out veteran free agents. Not this time.

Coaches have turned to a pair of young cornerbacks already on the roster.

Second-year player Leigh Torrence, who replaced Rogers after his injury in the New England game, has seen action in every game this season, recording eight tackles on defense and eight tackles on special teams.

Torrence believes he has established himself in the NFL, and the confidence that Redskins coaches have in him proves it.

"I'm at a stage in my career where I've proven myself to the league and to my teammates, so I'm just looking forward to the opportunity," he said.

Torrence joined the Redskins in December 2006. He had spent time with the Atlanta Falcons in 2005 and played in 10 games mostly on special teams. He saw his first NFL action on defense in an Oct. 24, 2005 game against the Jets at the Georgia Dome.

Torrence recollected on that first Jets game as he prepared for this Sunday's contest at the Meadowlands.

"That was a Monday Night Football game, and getting thrust in that situation is par for the NFL," he said. "Everything went fine. You prepare all week for the game. It's football. I've been playing it my whole life.

"You just kind of rely on your technique and your fundamentals, and you go out there and let it loose."

After Macklin and Torrence, the Redskins have another young cornerback in first-year player John Eubanks who was elevated from the practice squad this week.

Eubanks has spent most of the past two years fine-tuning his skills on the team's practice squad. Late last season, he was promoted to the Redskins' 53-man roster late in the 2006 season and saw action in the season finale against the New York Giants.

Eubanks originally joined the Redskins' roster in April 2006 as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Southern Mississippi. He finished his college career with 10 interceptions.

"I've been waiting for my opportunity and I've wanted to contribute to the team," Eubanks said. "Gregg Williams told me to be ready."

Eubanks will likely only play in an emergency situation. He will need to excel on special teams before he is given a bigger role on defense.

The Redskins' secondary includes veteran safety Pierson Prioleau, who has displayed strong coverage skills. With Smoot and Rogers out against New England last Sunday, Prioleau basically served as a fourth cornerback in certain packages.

He could continue in that role.

"We'll definitely miss Carlos--he's a big part of this defense," Prioleau said. "If that means my role goes up, then that's what it means."

Added Smoot: "We're not going to panic [with Rogers out]. It's just a couple players who know they're going to get some bigger roles."

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