Westbrook's role unlikely to change

Redskins receiver Michael Westbrook has waited for a day like this. And waited. And waited. After he finally had it, Westbrook talked about how much fun he had. But he wasn't holding his breath for more days like that. Nor was Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer.

Westbrook caught a season-high nine passes for 104 yards in Sunday's 17-10 win over Denver. His previous high was four catches.

''Michael had a tremendous day,'' Schottenheimer said. ''His production was a very significant part of what we were able to do. But we're not going to run out there and say, 'We've got to throw him eight to 10 balls.' Whatever unfolds unfolds. We'll continue to run the offense and get the ball to the guys that the reads and patterns dictate.''

Perhaps quarterback Kent Graham's presence made a difference.

''He's always said when he gets into the game he can't wait to throw the ball to me,'' Westbrook said. ''I didn't believe him. But he was true to his word. He was looking for me. He knew what I was capable of, and he came in and made it happen.''

Most likely Westbrook's big day was a result of Denver's coverage scheme. The Broncos stacked the line of scrimmage with eight and sometimes nine defenders, leaving the corners in man coverage. That enabled Graham to do less reading of coverages and zip short passes.

In the first half, the Broncos tried to send one more man than Washington had blockers, leading to pressure and unblocked blitzers. But, after halftime, the Redskins went to three-step drops to compensate.

''They were blitzing, leaving their DB's in man-to-man with us,'' Westbrook said. ''It was kind of an insult. We still get no respect, even after the teams we've beaten. They just lined up and said, 'Let's see, mano-to-mano, who's best.' ''

Because of the pressure, the Redskins used Graham on short rollouts, with receivers running hitches and comeback routes. The two hooked up at opportune times. On the two touchdown drives, Westbrook caught a combined five passes for 65 yards and drew a pass interference penalty.

''Michael was open,'' Graham said. ''I don't know if I was trying to go to him. I was just flying by the seat of my pants back there. I wasn't just trying to go to Michael, but he was running good, hard routes.''

John Keim covers the Redskins for The Journal Newspapers.


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