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For Samuels, Another Challenge Awaits

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He missed most of training camp and all four of the Redskins' preseason games as he recovered from a sprained knee.

So, there were all sorts of questions about Chris Samuels and how he would be able to handle Jason Taylor in the season opener.

Those worries, as things turned out, were for naught.

Samuels gave an outstanding effort on Sunday in the Redskins' 16-13 overtime win. He fought Taylor from start to finish and managed to keep one of the NFL's top players in check.

Taylor finished with five tackles and one sack but he never dominated, something he is capable of doing. Between 2000 and 2005, Taylor has sacked the quarterback 76 times. That's just one behind the Giants' Michael Strahan for most in the NFL.

Back in 2003, in Miami's 24-23 win over the Redskins in South Florida, Samuels suffered a knee injury in his head-to-head matchup with Taylor and was forced to miss three games. That was no doubt a motivating factor for Samuels on Sunday in the heat at FedExField.

A four-time Pro Bowler, Samuels doesn't catch much of a break.

In Monday Night's NFC East confrontation in South Philly, Samuels is expected to match up against Eagles defensive end Trent Cole.

Cole may not be a player as widely-heralded as Taylor, but he is an emerging talent and an exceptional pass-rushing threat nonetheless.

Heading into the 2007 season, the 6-3, 270-pounder had already logged 13 career sacks.

Philadelphia dropped its opener at Green Bay 16-13, but Cole produced five tackles and 1.5 sacks in the game.

Cole is most accurately described as a linebacker-defensive end hybrid. He has started to bulk up in recent years, though, becoming more of a classic linemen.

Samuels said he figured to be "a little rusty" heading into the opener. He also had to adjust to the style of his new left guard, 12-year veteran Pete Kendall, late of the New York Jets.

Clinton Portis headed in their direction, generally, on his 19-yard TD scamper against the Miami defense on Sunday.

Philadelphia's Cole, as close observers of the NFC East have come to realize, can present all sorts of problems for an offensive tackle as well.

So, Samuels will once again have to be on top of his game on Monday Night.

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