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Redskins Hope to Stop Tiki...One Last Time

Cornelius Griffin admitted that, when he first entered the NFL as a New York Giant in 2000, he didn't know too much about Tiki Barber.

Since then? Barber has emerged as one of the elite running backs in the league.

Griffin, a Redskin since 2004, knows Barber all too well now.

"Each year he has gotten better and he's playing at a high level," Griffin said. "He has great field vision and he has the ability to break tackles. He can cut back behind defenders and go all the way across the field. He has great speed."

Barber, who has rushed for 10,215 career yards in 10 seasons entering Saturday's Redskins-Giants game at FedExField, has announced that he expects to retire at season's end.

That decision surprised Griffin.

"It's a shame he's going to retire, but that's a decision he made," Griffin said. "He wanted to go out on top. He's a great player."

Saturday's game could be the last of Barber's career. The Giants, at 7-8, still could earn a Wild Card playoff spot with a win. But if the Redskins win, the Giants would need a lot of help to make the postseason.

Most Redskins coaches and players are probably glad that Barber will no longer be a thorn in their side after this season.

Head coach Joe Gibbs said as much this week when he commented that Barber has been making his life miserable for the last three years.

"I think it is a testament to any young player coming into the league that through hard work and continued improvement in skill development that you can get better with age," assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams said. "I really do believe that he has gotten better here the last several years of his career and it is through hard work and dedication that he put into it."

On Oct. 30, 2005, Barber steamrolled the Redskins' defense when he rushed for 206 yards and one touchdown in the Giants' 36-0 win at the Meadowlands.

Washington responded by bottling up Barber in the rematch, limiting him to 80 yards on 16 carries in a 35-20 Redskins victory. Thirty-one of those yards came late in the fourth quarter with the Redskins ahead by two scores.

In Week 5 this season, Barber logged 123 rushing yards on 23 carries in a 19-3 Giants win at the Meadowlands.

"You see the type of speed he has once he gets past the second line of defenders," safety Vernon Fox said. "Beyond that, he's a cutback runner, so once you have him boxed in on one side, you have to continue play the gaps and close him in."

Added Griffin: "You have to tackle him well. You can't let him break tackles because he has the ability to take the distance on you."

Ladell Betts, a distinctly different style of running back, says he has watched Barber closely over the years.

"He's one of the premier players in the league," Betts said. "Being another running back, I tend to watch most of the other backs. I think Tiki has been a class act over the years. He's put up a lot of numbers, played hard and played through some pain.

"I think it's admirable that he is able to leave on his own terms. Many guys in this league get forced out. Whenever you get a chance to leave on your own terms, it says something about you as a player."

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