With T.O. on deck, the Redskins really miss Shawn Springs

Updated: September 13, 2006, 7:43 PM ET
Associated Press

ASHBURN, Va. -- Carlos Rogers strutted and did a little dance, an odd bit of celebration considering he had just been beaten by a receiver.

As it turned out, the receiver, Troy Williamson, let the ball go through his hands, denying the Minnesota Vikings a sure touchdown. Rogers, trailing the play by a step or two, behaved as if he'd made an interception that won the game.

"That's an incomplete pass, so I won," Rogers said. "That's the way I look at it."

Whether the antics were appropriate or not, the Washington Redskins cornerback definitely wasn't dancing when he got toasted again in the third quarter. This time, Marcus Robinson made a double move and got free in the corner of the end zone, making the catch for a 20-yard touchdown in the Vikings' 19-16 victory.

"I play aggressive," Rogers said. "When I see something, I like to attack it instead of waiting. I've got to discipline my eyes better to make sure the route is what the route is, then try to collapse on it."

Rogers was the most egregious offender in a weak performance by a secondary that really missed Shawn Springs. The defensive back is recovering from surgery, and he's not expected to return in time for Sunday night's game, when the Redskins will have to deal with Terrell Owens, Terry Glenn and the rest of the Dallas Cowboys.

"Shawn does mean a lot to this team," defensive end Phillip Daniels said. "We do need him out there. He was a guy that nobody threw at last year."

Four weeks have passed since Springs had surgery on a torn muscle in his abdomen, and he's yet to return to practice. This week's game looks out of the question, with next week's game against Houston possible.

"Obviously I want to be out there making plays, and I can't right now," Springs said. "We knew when we opted to have the surgery that I wouldn't be here for the first couple of games. We've just (got) to keep working at it."

For now, Rogers is the No. 1 cornerback. He was a first-round pick from Auburn in 2005, and this is supposed to be the year he solidifies his cover skills as he forms a tandem with the veteran Springs.

But Rogers is still learning the tricks of the trade.

"Carlos has got to remember that he's a second-year guy, and he's going to have to prove himself," Springs said. "He's got all the talent in the world, and I think Carlos could be a dominant corner in the NFL, but you and I both know it's hard to get that off your back. The only way you can that off your back is to make plays."

Complicating matters for the secondary is a season-ending injury to Pierson Prioleau, a valuable nickel back safety who tore a knee ligament covering the opening kickoff Monday night. Two other defensive backs, Mike Rumph and Vernon Fox, are still mastering the schemes after being signed during the preseason. Safety Curry Burns, who was cut in the preseason, was re-signed Wednesday to take Prioleau's spot on the roster.

Kenny Wright started opposite Rogers on Monday and played well, but Rumph was beaten on a 46-yard pass to Williamson in the first quarter.

Rogers says he relishes the chance to face Owens on the Sunday night stage, seeing it as a great chance for redemption after Monday night's prime-time struggle.

"That's the opportunity to make a name," Rogers said, "if you stop a guy like him."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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