Colts No-Huddle Will be Challenge for Skins

The Redskins' defense loves to change their personnel up throughout the game to set up the blitz packages they like to use with regularity. But the Colts aren't likely to let them make those substitutions. Find out what the Redskins are likely to do about it on Sunday...

Redskins coach Joe Gibbs knows that his defense, which practiced Wednesday minus five injured starters, is heading for a potentially very long Sunday afternoon in Indianapolis.

"You can probably say there's nobody stopping them," Gibbs said of the unbeaten Colts, who haven't been operating at peak efficiency and yet are fourth in yards and fifth in scoring. "You can just hope you limit some of the things they do."

To make matters worse, Washington's defense has given up 25 passes of 20 or more yards -- at least two each week -- and was gashed for 349 rushing yards on 77 carries the past two weeks in losses to the New York Giants and Tennessee.

Gibbs said that as talented as the Colts are, they're even tougher because of their up-tempo scheme, something the Redskins haven't seen this season.

"It's a tough scheme to get ready for in what amounts to three days because most of it's at the line of scrimmage," Gibbs said. "It's extremely hard to prepare for. If you played them twice a year, I think you'd probably have a better chance of preparing for it. We tried to do the best we could today."

And since the Redskins don't run no-huddle themselves, scout team quarterback Jason Campbell and his offensive mates couldn't give the defense that good a feel for what's coming at the RCA Dome.

"It's a real challenge for everybody that tees it up on defense," Gibbs said. "It's one of the premier schemes. It'll be a real challenge for our guys to see how we handle it mentally."

And physically. It's difficult to rotate personnel up front and use a plethora of defensive packages, as Redskins assistant head coach Gregg Williams likes to do, when the offense is in hurry-up mode. Compounding that challenge, top corner Shawn Springs hasn't played a full game since January, new nickel safety Troy Vincent just joined the team and hasn't played in five weeks, defensive tackles Cornelius Griffin and Joe Salave'a are so banged-up that they couldn't play last week and leading linebackers Marcus Washington and Lemar Marshall are also hurt.

Meanwhile, the Colts are well-rested, having been off last week, and their offense is run by the current master at calling audibles, Peyton Manning.

"He's one of the premier quarterbacks that's ever played," Gibbs said. "It's something that's unusual. Most people wouldn't do that. It all revolves around him. He's very, very adept at what they do. He really understands it."

GAME PLAN
The Redskins will try to restore the formula on offense that worked so well in their victories over Houston and Jacksonville: run the ball and spread it around in the air. Washington's backs had 75 carries for 374 yards against the Texans and Jaguars as the Redskins scored 67 points. In the past two losses to the Giants and Titans, the backs carried 39 times for just 149 yards. Five players caught at least four passes in those high-scoring games. Only three players caught at least that many balls during the past two losses. Ball control will be essential in order to keep it out of the hands of Manning and the potent Colts offense.

Redskins assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams will probably try to borrow a page from former boss Jeff Fisher's playbook. Fisher's Titans gave up short passes and runs and made the Colts try to put together lengthy drives instead of striking fast as they prefer. Indianapolis' only scores in the 14-13 victory came at the end of series that took 12 and 10 plays with the first one consuming 90 yards. Since Manning is as adept at any QB at beating blitzes and since the Colts' no huddle scheme makes it very difficult to change personnel, Williams will have to junk his usual modus operandi and go to a throwback basic defense and hope that his underachieving players can rise to the challenge.

NOTES, QUOTES
--This is Troy Vincent's 15th season, but the five-time Pro Bowl defensive back felt a little lost during his first Redskins practice. Asked if it was like riding a bike, Vincent said, "It doesn't feel like a bicycle right now. The terminology, getting used to practice tempo, where you need to go, I didn't even know where to go in stretching drills, so tomorrow should be a better day."As to whether he'll be ready to play on Sunday after missing the past five weeks recovering from a hamstring injury, Vincent said, "I'm just trying to get to Thursday right now. Then Friday, I think we'll evaluate tape, the coaches will ask me how I feel, and they'll let me know if they're going to need me on Sunday."

--The Redskins installed their game plan during Wednesday's practice. Thursday, they'll practice it with a crowd noise machine on hand. "It's extremely loud there," Gibbs said of the RCA Dome where he suffered one of just three losses in 18 career indoor games back in 1990.

--SLB Marcus Washington missed his third straight Wednesday with a sore hip but is expected to start against his old team on Sunday.


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