Carpenter Breaks Down the 'Skins

IRVING, Tex. - Dallas linebacker Bobby Carpenter visited with TheRanchReport.com to discuss his groin injury and the upcoming Sunday night game against the Redskins.

Have you had to come in early and get some extra treatment?
A: No, they told me I didn't have to do that. They said "you're special, so you don't need to come in." (Laughing) No, I've been in early and staying late — got a lot of treatment (Monday) and Tuesday, so hopefully it's starting to turn the corner.

Do feel pretty good that you'll be able to play Sunday night?
A: I hope so. We'll see how it feels. It's funny, you know. Hamstrings, groins, hip flexors — stuff like that, it feels like it's getting better, and then one thing might set it off. So I think we're trying to avoid that, and hopefully keep progressing, so it's not something where, if I decide to play, I'm not in for three plays and then have to sit out for three weeks.

Are you aware, with everything you do on special teams, just how important a roster spot like yours is?
A: I probably didn't have a full appreciation for that, but I kind of do now. Our special teams have been playing a lot better the past couple of weeks. We've got guys who are playing on all of them, and doing lots of stuff. I'd like to be a part of the gameplan, and hopefully get involved this week.

Talk about Clinton Portis. (Washington head) Coach (Jim) Zorn has been saying he's 50-50, but their running game is good, whether or not it's Portis.
A: Well, their other running backs, Rock Cartwright and Ladell Betts, are two very talented players, as well, but you've got to think Clinton Portis is a competitor and a tough guy, and I know he loves playing against the Dallas Cowboys. So if he's 50-50, I'm definitely leaning toward the 50 percent playing side.

What was he able to do the first time you played them this year?
A: Well, he was able to run the ball and move it on us — him and Ladell Betts. The Redskins did a great job gameplanning, hurting us with the run game and staying with it. That's something that, up to that point, teams really hadn't done. I think he (Portis) is the first- or second-leading rusher in the NFL, so I foresee him trying to play this week. I know he's doing everything he can to get ready to go.

There's some talk in Washington that (if Portis can't play) maybe Shaun Alexander starts. Have you seen enough in the limited action he's gotten this year to know what he still has left?
A: He's gotten in there and run the ball a few times, but a player like that, he's played in this league for a long time. If we get the feel that he's going to play more, we can bust out some Seattle tape, as well.

If they do go to Alexander, or Ladell Betts, do you anticipate them changing up their scheme and play calling?
A: They're probably going to do the same stuff. Jim Zorn's a West Coast (offense) guy. The West Coast offense is pretty typical in what they do. They're going to run their certain plays, and they're going to pretty much stick with that. They may have a little variation, and coming off a bye week that might tweak it a little bit, you're going to pretty much know what you're going to get with them.

What happened in the first game with the Redskins?
A: Well, we had some problems stopping the run, obviously. You can never let a team continue to run the ball on you, and wear down your defense. And then it was mostly the big plays — Santana Moss had a couple of big plays against us. Obviously, we had the crucial fourth-down penalty that kept their drive alive. So it was a couple of plays here and there, and the culmination of the effect the run has on it. Other than … I think it was a third-and-four and Clinton Portis popped a 30-yarder — other than that, we did a pretty good job, but we've got to try to contain the run and eliminate the big play in the pass.

How much is this game a payback game or a revenge game?
A: I don't know about a payback or revenge game — any time you're in the NFC East, you're going to have some big rivalries. They beat us (early in) the season, but this is like the start of a new season here — we're 5-4 and trying to get on a role. So regardless of the fact that it is the Redskins, and they beat us last time, we need to win this game to stay close in the NFC East and fight for a playoff spot.

What are your impressions of Jason Campbell? Some are saying he just manages the game, and some are saying that with his two interceptions this season, he is climbing up among the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. What do you think of him?
A: He's doing extremely well, and people say there are guys who are just game managers, but if you're throwing the ball and winning games — that's what he's been doing. He's been moving the ball, limiting interceptions, throwing touchdowns and winning games. I think the term "game manager" is kind of overused a little bit, because you saw what Kerry Collins did last week, and everyone had decided that was him (a game manager).

He (Campbell) plays smart, he plays safe. They might not need him to put the ball in the air 45 times a game, and it might not put them in the best position to win, but he's able to go out there and do that if they need him to, and have some success with it. The key to any defensive game plan is stopping the run, and making a team one-dimensional. If you can do that and put some pressure on the quarterback, I don't care if it's Tony Romo, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning or Jason Campbell — if you get pressure on the quarterbacm, he's going to have a tough time getting the ball out.

Pittsburgh had a lot of success defensively against Washington. Did you see anything on that tape you can adopt this week?
A: Pittsburgh's defense is a lot like ours. What they did — they were able to get pressure and take away some of the quick throws that they like to do. By doing that, it makes the quarterback hold the ball, and then you end up getting some sacks.

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