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Rogers Is Stepping Up His Game

What a turnaround for the Redskins' Carlos Rogers between Weeks 11 and 12.

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At Tampa Bay, he gave up that 34-yard Bruce Gradkowski-to-Joey Galloway strike in a game the Redskins dropped 20-17.

Rogers certainly made amends in the 17-13 win over Carolina last Sunday at FedExField.

The second-year player out of Auburn produce his finest game at the NFL level against Keyshawn Johnson, Steve Smith and the Panthers. Rogers and the Redskins' defensive backfield held those two dangerous wide receivers to 11 catches for just 72 yards.

The finest moment for Rogers came when he used his skills to bat a potential TD from the grasp of Johnson.

Victimized by the Buccaneers but exceptional versus the Panthers, Rogers looks for consistency as the Redskins step up preparations for Week 13 and the 5-6 Atlanta Falcons in the middle game of a three-game stretch at FedExField.

Against Carolina, Rogers, the 6-0, 195-pound cornerback who was the ninth pick in the first round by the Redskins in 2005, produced six tackles. His tackling skills are sure to be required this Sunday with Michael Vick running the Falcons' offense.

As everyone who follows the NFL is well aware, Vick dashed for a phenomenal 166 yards versus New Orleans last week in a game the Falcons lost 31-13. For the season, Vick is Atlanta's top rusher with 870 yards and an average of 9.2 yards per carry.

There comes a time in every NFL player's career when he must step up and take on more responsibility. It's an occasion when he has to show his maturity and overall development.

Rogers showed flashes as much in the win over Carolina. That his Auburn friend, Jason Campbell, has stepped to the forefront is perhaps goading Rogers to make his move as well.

With veteran cornerback Shawn Springs on the sidelines with an injury in the early part of this season, Rogers was being counted on to be the team's top corner. He did not flourish in that role.

It left, Rogers, more times than not, responsible for covering the No. 1 wide receiver of the opponent.

Marcus Robinson and Brad Johnson hooked up on a 20-yard, third-quarter TD as the expense of Rogers in the 19-16 Minnesota win at FedExField. In subsequent games, Rogers battled back. He was at his best versus the Panthers.

Rogers put it this way earlier this year: "I have a lot more confidence this season and I know the defense much better. My opportunities have come. It's a situation where I just need to capitalize on them."

With Springs on the sidelines early on and Walt Harris playing for the 49ers this season, Rogers-very quickly--became the cornerback with the most experience in burgundy and gold.

"He's a great leader for being such a young player," said Redskins newcomer Mike Rumph. "Carlos has a terrific work ethic. He's always putting extra time into practice and extra work into drills.

"You don't see that in many young players. He's one of the guys who will let me know what to expect as a new player here."

Fellow cornerback Wright is in his eighth pro season after stints with the Vikings, Texans and Jaguars. Like Rumph, Wright says he's appreciative that Rogers is able to help him learn the intricacies of Gregg Williams' defenses.

Says Wright: "Carlos? He's a talented athlete. The more experienced he gets, the better he'll become. I really feel the sky's the limit for him."

Even with the return of Springs, Rogers' challenges remain tough every week, especially in the talent-rich NFC East.

Along with Terrell Owens and Terry Glenn of the Cowboys, Rogers cites Plaxico Burress of the Giants as well as Reggie Brown and Donte Stallworth of the Eagles as the division's most talented wide receivers among opponents.

Rogers realizes he must treat all wide receivers with the same respect, adding: "I can't treat any of these guys differently. We have to execute the same against all of them or we'll have a rude awakening."

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