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News & Notes: Smith Scores On Trick Play

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The Redskins' first touchdown of the 2009 season came from an unlikely person.

Hunter Smith.

Yes, Hunter Smith.

Washington's punter scored a touchdown on a fake field goal attempt late in the second quarter, giving the Redskins a spark against the New York Giants heading into halftime.

In Sunday's game at the Meadowlands, the Redskins were trailing 17-0 in the second quarter when two big plays got the Redskins into scoring range.

Campbell connected with Ladell Betts for a 23-yard pickup and Antwaan Randle El for a 35-yard gain to the Giants' 8-yard line.

The Redskins' offense stalled, so Shaun Suisham came on for a 25-yard field goal attempt with Smith as the holder.

It was a fake! Smith took the snap and wheeled around to the right to run with the ball. The Giants were completely fooled. Smith out-raced three Giants defenders to the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown run.

The score narrowed the Giants lead to 17-7 at the time.

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The Giants would hang on to win the game 23-17, dropping the Redskins to 0-1 on the season.

It is believed that it was the first-ever touchdown the Redskins have scored on a fake field goal attempt, although team historians were scouring through history books the rest of the game.

For Smith, it was his second career NFL touchdown off a fake field goal.

On Nov. 16, 2003, Smith, as a member of the Indianapolis Colts, ran for a game-winning 21-yard touchdown off a fake field goal against the New York Jets.

Three years earlier, on Nov. 12, 2000, Smith also scurried 11 yards for a first down on a fake field goal attempt by the Colts.

Smith is in his first season as the Redskins' punter. He played the last 10 years with the Colts.


-- REDSKINS' INACTIVES

With a healthy roster and eight players to deactivate for Sunday's game against the Giants, the Redskins were faced with some interesting decisions.

In the end, coaches decided to deactivate three offensive linemen and two defensive linemen.

That allowed rookies Jeremy Jarmon and Marko Mitchell to make their NFL debut. Jarmon saw substantial playing time as part of a defensive line rotation while Mitchell played mostly on special teams.

The Redskins deactivated Renaldo Wynn and Anthony Montgomery to get Jarmon involved on the defensive line. Coaches wanted Jarmon's speed around the edge to get more pressure on Manning.

With versatile linemen Phillip Daniels and Lorenzo Alexander in the mix, the defensive line was not shorthanded.

The same could not be said for the offensive line.

Backups Chad Rinehart, D'Anthony Batiste and Edwin Williams were deactivated, leaving Mike Williams and Will Montgomery as the only available reserves.

Fortunately, there were no injuries reported on the offensive line.

The Redskins also deactivated Kevin Barnes, Robert Henson and Marcus Mason for the game.


-- YEAR 2 FOR ZORN

Jim Zorn was back where he started.

As a first-year head coach in 2008, Zorn guided the Redskins to the Meadowlands in the season opener. The result was a 16-7 loss to the New York Giants.

On Sunday, Zorn was back at the Meadowlands for Year 2, once again facing off against Tom Coughlin and the Giants. He aims to improve on last year's 8-8 season.

"I feel more prepared," Zorn said in the days leading up to the Giants game. "I'm not any more excited. I'm real excited to be able to show what we can do. I feel more in touch with our players and our schemes.

"Our communication is better. I have more confidence that our players and coaches know what we're doing and how we're doing it."

It's also the second year for Zorn as an offensive play-caller. He says he has reached a comfort level in calling games.

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"I have an approach that I'm taking--I try to be aggressive and attack--and I'm never at a loss for a play," he said. "Overall, I feel very comfortable in my play-calling."


-- STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE

Washington may open against the defending NFC East champions, but their overall strength of schedule is in the middle of the pack of the NFL.

The Redskins' 2009 strength of schedule is ranked 16th in the NFL at .492. Their opponents' 2008 cumulative record was 125-129-2. They play a total of seven games against 2008 playoff teams.

The Miami Dolphins have the NFL's toughest schedule at .594. Their opponents' 2008 cumulative record was 152-104.

The Chicago Bears have the NFL's easiest schedule at .414. Their opponents' 2008 cumulative record was 105-149-2.

The Bears, Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers each have the easiest strength of schedule since they play the Detroit Lions twice. The Lions finished 0-16 last year.


-- OPENING DAY FOR BLACHE

Greg Blache began his 22nd NFL season on Sunday. Before the Giants game, he said his anxiousness would not be any different than any other year.

"It's always nerve-wracking," Blache said. "You're very concerned because you're a new football team. Whenever you add a new piece, it's always a new team. The chemistry is not going to be the same. There's always the question of how everyone is going to mesh.

"We know what we have talent-wise, and what we have as far as guys' work ethic, but how is that chemistry when it really comes down to it and it becomes crunch time? It's a different thing when they turn the lights on.

"For everybody, until we get a chance to let this thing simmer a little bit, it's going to be new for everybody. Personally, I can't wait until we kick it off because then my stomach may settle down just a little bit."


-- SEPTEMBER WINS

The Redskins are among 16 NFL clubs that have posted winning records in the month of September the last 10 years.

Since 1999, the Redskins are 17-15 in the month of September, a .531 winning percentage. Last year, the Redskins were 3-1 in September.

The New York Giants have posted a 20-13 mark in September--a .606 winning percentage--since 1999.

Best in the NFL in September wins since 1999? The Indianapolis Colts, with a 25-7 record. That's a .781 winning percentage.

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