EYE ON DONNELL BENNETT

Donnell Bennett watched Bryan Johnson intrude on his job and he didn't like it. So Bennett did something about it: he played his best game of the preseason in Friday's 27-25 win over Cleveland.

Bennett ran three times for 20 yards and caught three passes for eight more. But he did more than that. For the first time this preseason he blocked well. The coaches harped on that last week and he took note.

''I wasn't finishing blocks [in the first two games],'' Bennett said. ''There was always good initial contact and good punch. But I wasn't finishing the block and that's something I accomplished [Friday].''

There's no official winner yet in this battle, though Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer said Monday that Bennett would start again Thursday versus New England. It would take a big upset to bounce him from the starting lineup now.

It certainly helped Bennett when Johnson dropped a short pass Friday. Yet Bennett isn't known for his hands, either, with only 51 career receptions.

The Chiefs' offense focused less on throwing to the fullback the past two years without Marty Schottenheimer in charge.

''He's not a nifty guy like Marshall Faulk,'' Schottenheimer said. ''But for a big guy he has flexibility and that's what it takes to be a receiver in the backfield because you're coming out of the backfield on angles, whether you're straight up or in the flat.''

But Bennett's experience helps soothe the other players.

''Everyone looks up to him when plays are going bad in practice,'' Carter said. ''He tells us what to do and what to expect [from Schottenheimer]. Coach can tell us something, but Donnell knows how to relate to us. That's the biggest thing. We all look to him when something goes wrong. We all come back and we're like, 'D.B., what should we do? I consider him the starter.''

The coaches haven't yet made that decision. Bennett, though, has waited a long time to be a fulltime starter. He's started only 15 career games in his career. So when some first-year player intrudes on his turf, Bennett looked to make a statement.

''I wasn't necessarily upset,'' Bennett said, ''but the thing you have to understand is you have a family to feed. When people start taking reps from you, you revert back to, 'This is my job.' I won't accept [not starting]. I won't accept second class to anything. I came here to start and that's something I'm going to accomplish.''


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