Carlos Rogers is just starting to understand the pressure of being an NFL cornerback.
The second-year cornerback started five games as a rookie last season, but the experience of Shawn Springs and Walt Harris helped protect him at times.
Now, with Springs still recovering from an abdominal injury and Harris departed, Rogers is being counted on to elevate his play. Along with fellow cornerbacks Kenny Wright, Mike Rumph and Ade Jimoh, Rogers faces a supreme test this Sunday night in Dallas. Wide receivers Terrell Owens and Terry Glenn pose a challenge for any secondary.
Rogers isn't backing down from the pressure, even after a tough outing against Minnesota in the Redskins' season-opening 19-16 loss to the Vikings.
"I don't even look at it as pressure, I look at it as opportunity," he said. "Guys look at it like they are going to pick on me, but I look at it as an opportunity to make my name, step up and make plays. It's an opportunity to try and be one of the premiere corners in this league."
Said assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams: "Young cornerbacks always have a bulls-eye on them when they come into the league. Carlos has a chance to improve to be one of those corners that people stay away from. When you come into this league, you have to prove yourself. You have to earn respect.
"What I see in practice, I want him to transfer to the game, because he is improving in leaps and bounds."
At 6-3 and 224 pounds, Owens is a rangy receiver with elite speed. The Redskins' cornerbacks will have to be physical to defend against him, Rogers said.
"You have to give them different looks--mix up the coverage," Rogers said. "With T.O. being a big receiver, you have to be physical. We have to get some good work in the weight room because with him you have to be physical the whole game."
Rumph expects the Cowboys to come out firing in the passing game.
"I do expect them to come after us," he said. "Everyone sees that we have Shawn out and they think [the secondary] is a weakness. They want to try and expose us. We just have to go out there and compete."
-- TALKING 'BOUT T.O.
"T.O. is a big-time player," Randle El said. "A lot of people say he has a lot of baggage, but baggage isn't always carried by itself. He's looked at in a certain way by people, but you have to give him credit on the field he makes plays. You can't take that away from him.
#### -- PRESSURING BLEDSOE
How to slow the Dallas passing attack? One way is to pressure quarterback Drew Bledsoe relentlessly.
Bledsoe completed 16-of-33 passes for 246 yards in the Cowboys' 24-17 loss to Jacksonville last Sunday. He had a 21-yard scoring strike to Terrell Owens.
Bledsoe was also intercepted three times and sacked twice.
"You want to get to the quarterback and that can stop everything else," cornerbacks coach Jerry Gray said. "If you can get to Drew Bledsoe, he can't get the ball to T.O. or Terry Glenn. We have to make sure we keep those guys from going for broke."
Phillip Daniels agrees that pressure on Bledsoe is the best way to slow down the Cowboys' offense.
"It's going to be very key that we get pressure on the quarterback," said Daniels, who had a memorable four-sack performance against Bledsoe and Dallas in Week 15 last season. "We have a great group of guys who hard on pass-rushing. The less time he has to look downfield and find a receiver, the more it will be in our favor."
Added Gray: "That's the thing with our D-Line. They know our defensive backs have a tough matchup. So they know we have to ramp it up a little bit up front."
-- ROSTER MOVE
The Redskins placed fullback Manuel White, Jr., on the injured reserve-practice squad list this week. White, a member of the team's practice squad, suffered a knee injury during practice on Sept. 9.
It is the second consecutive season that White will be sidelined for the year; in 2005, the former fourth-round draft pick suffered a fractured fibula in preseason.
The Redskins signed fullback Nehemiah Broughton to take the place of White on the practice squad.