Breaking down the Rams-Redskins contest
By Jim Thomas

When the Rams run the ball

Steven Jackson had the fourth-best rushing day of his career against the Redskins in 2006, with 150 yards. Last season, he lost an early fumble at the St. Louis 3, which the Redskins turned into a quick TD. But he kept running hard and finished strongly, gaining 79 yards on 22 carries. Even with a front seven built to stop the run, the Redskins respect everything about Jackson. "He just runs hard and wild and out of control," Redskins counterpart Clinton Portis said. "I'm glad I'm not on the defense that I have to step in front of him. He's a back capable of putting up big numbers; we've seen him put up big numbers. I just hope he won't be able to do it on Sunday."


When the Redskins run the ball

Portis is reaching the stage of his career where he's got a lot of miles on the odometer, namely 2,300 touches. But he remains one of the league's elite backs, an effective cutback runner with an aggressive downhill style. And if Julius Jones of Seattle can put 117 yards on St. Louis, as he did last week, Portis probably feels he can double that. He had 129 yards and 2 TDs last year against the Rams at FedEx Field. Like Jackson, Portis got only 16 carries in last week's season opener. Unlike Jackson, Portis was routinely replaced in third-down situations (by Ladell Betts). From a Rams standpoint, the more time Portis spends on the sidelines, the better.

EDGE Redskins

When the Rams pass the ball

Even though he had an interception last week against the Giants, two-time Pro Bowl CB DeAngelo Hall is coming off a sub-par game for the Redskins. Hall gives a lot of cushion, reading the quarterback as much as he does the wide receiver, so he can be had on underneath or quick-developing routes. Just don't throw late, because Hall can close on the ball. Hall and Rams WR Laurent Robinson were teammates in 2007 in Atlanta. "Every day in practice, we used to go at it," Robinson said. "So I'm excited about this opportunity; hopefully I can make the best of it." The Redskins' other starting corner, Carlos Rogers, is a more consistent player. Nickel back Fred Smoot is best in press coverage.

EDGE Redskins

When the Redskins pass the ball

Marc Bulger isn't the only QB facing a make-or-break year. Washington's Jason Campbell is in his third full season as the Redskins' starter, and he's in the final year of his contract. He appears more confident in the pocket, yet still seems to lack football instincts. That internal clock QBs need, telling them to get the ball out, doesn't always work. Hence, he lost a fumble that was returned for a TD last week against the Giants. He threw an interception on a play where he already was well beyond the line of scrimmage. (The Giants declined the penalty.) But Campbell does have plenty of weapons, including TE Chris Cooley, slot receiver Antwaan Randle El and deep threat Santana Moss.

EDGE Redskins