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Redskins Can Count On Thomas

It's not often that an offensive guard is one of the leaders of an NFL team. But in the case of the Redskins and right guard Randy Thomas, the mold is broken.

Thomas did everything he could to get his teammates fired up to play the Oakland Raiders last Sunday. His emotion was evident for the Redskins' in their pre-game preparations.

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Unfortunately, that didn't do much for the Redskins on Week 11 as they lost to the Raiders 16-13. It was Washington's ninth straight loss to an AFC opponent, dating back to Sept. 28, 2003 when they edged New England 20-17.

Still, Thomas has become one of the Redskins' veteran leaders and he's working hard to convince everyone involved that there are six weeks of playoff-type football just ahead.

The 5-5 Redskins can break that string of nine setbacks to AFC clubs on Sunday when they entertain the 6-4 San Diego Chargers.

Thomas, the seventh-year right guard, has missed only four games in his NFL career. He and kicker John Hall are the holdovers from the whirlwind weekend back in 2003 that saw the Redskins pluck Chad Morton, Laveranues Coles, Hall and Thomas from the New York Jets.

In the 17-10 win over the Eagles on Nov. 6, Clinton Portis and Mike Sellers ran behind Thomas on their short carries into the end zone. On Portis's six-yard run, Thomas took care of linebacker Jeremiah Trotter.

Thomas said he likes playing in the system of head coach Joe Gibbs, adding: "It fits my game 100 percent because I like to run the ball, I like to pull, and I like to be aggressive when guys rush the quarterback."

The Mississippi State product takes it a step further by saying that assistant head coach-offense Joe Bugel has taught him how to be a pro. "If we just did what Buges said, we'd probably be undefeated right now," Thomas said after the win over Philly upped the Redskins' mark to 5-3.

The offensive line of Thomas and Jon Jansen on the right side, center Casey Rabach, and guard Derrick Dockery and tackle Chris Samuels on the left has stayed healthy so far. After 10 games, the group was showing consistency.

Down the stretch, when the Redskins finish with three physically-challenging NFC East games, offensive line play figures to be a really key factor.

The Chargers received good news on Monday when they learned that standout tight end Antonio Gates did not severely injury his foot in the 48-10 win over Buffalo.

For the Redskins, though, there was bad news on the injury front. Both James Thrash and Mike Sellers will miss the game versus the Chargers, Thrash with a hamstring injury and Sellers with a rib injury.

Marty Schottenheimer brings San Diego to FedExField, which means that for the second week in a row a former Redskins head coach will be on the opposing sidelines. Last week, it was Norv Turner of Oakland.

On Week 11, the Redskins faced a former University of Maryland star in Raiders running back LaMont Jordan. The Chargers feature former Terp linebacker Shawne Merriman.

A 6-4, 272-pound defensive end/outside linebacker, Merriman has the look of an emerging star. The rookie has 25 tackles and a team-high five sacks heading into the Week 12 contest at FedExField.

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