Loss of Taylor Changes Redskins' Approach
Jason Reid writes:
With Pro Bowl left end Jason Taylor sidelined indefinitely while recovering from emergency surgery to relieve compartment syndrome in his left leg, the Dallas Cowboys are expected to focus on right end Andre Carter. It would be surprising if Dallas did not double-team Carter and have running backs and tight ends help against him in pass protection.
Versatile defensive lineman Demetric Evans will start in place of Taylor, and defensive coordinator Greg Blache also plans to rely on Erasmus James and Chris Wilson in a rotation at left end. But without Taylor in the lineup, Carter is considered the Redskins' top edge rusher, and the Cowboys figure to make things as difficult as possible for him.
"Of course, when it comes to losing a starter, you'll never replace a starter like Jason," Carter said. "And it could be a while. It's something serious, so we don't know.
"But through my career, when you play against an opponent who is a nonstarter, those are the guys you have to watch out for because they play twice as hard."
Carter, who has one sack, led the Redskins with 10½ last season. When the Redskins acquired Taylor from Miami in late July, Coach Jim Zorn and Blache said they envisioned Carter and Taylor forming one of the NFL's top edge-rushing tandems.
But Taylor, who also has one sack, has been slowed because of the sprained right knee he suffered Aug. 23 in a preseason game against the Carolina Panthers. In last Sunday's 24-17 victory over the Arizona Cardinals, Taylor was kicked in the left calf, which led to him undergoing a career-saving procedure to drain blood from his leg.
Taylor could be out "a couple of months," he said, prompting Blache to shuffle things along the defensive line. The loss of Taylor - who has started in 133 consecutive regular-season games and has not missed a game since 1999 - prompted Blache to promote Evans, but Evans also lines up inside next to defensive tackle Lorenzo Alexander in nickel situations.
Concerned about Evans wearing down, Blache hopes Wilson, a third-down rush specialist, and James, still recovering from major knee problems, help to provide a boost. And interior lineman Cornelius Griffin and Kedric Golston, who provided a good push in the middle against the Cardinals, must contribute similarly against the Cowboys' massive offensive line, the Redskins said.
"It's going to be like a D Line by committee," Alexander said. "Chris Wilson, myself, Erasmus, Griffin, it's just been a lot of guys rotating in and out, depending on the situation. We're going to have to rotate a lot to keep people fresh to get after" Dallas quarterback Tony Romo.
Evans appeared in 20 games for the Cowboys in the 2001 and 2002 seasons, and he could have a big role against his former team. "We lost a good player in Jason, but at the same time, this is Demetric Evans's time to shine," Carter said. "He's been a key guy for us whenever he's in there.
"Maybe not on a consistent basis as a starter, but he makes a play for us when he's in there. Now, it's time for him to be in there on a consistent basis, be a starter and prove to not only himself, but to the organization as well as the NFL, 'Hey, this is who I am.' This is his coming out. We'll be fine."
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