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Friday, October 13, 2006
Little payoff from Redskins' Lloyd, Duckett and Patten

Associated Press

ASHBURN, Va. -- The Washington Redskins invested a lot to obtain Brandon Lloyd, T.J. Duckett and David Patten.

So far, they've yet to get much in return.

Lloyd has six catches in five games. Duckett has played in only one game. Patten was inactive for the first time in his career last week. For various reasons, none of the three has found a groove in Washington.

The Redskins sent two draft picks to San Francisco for Lloyd in March, then signed him to a long-term contract extension. Last year, he was the best receiver on a bad team. Now he's having trouble getting open and getting the ball on a team with higher expectations.

"That's hard to explain," coach Joe Gibbs said. "He's out there, he's on every route. He's playing a ton, and probably when we're really operating, he's going to be getting the ball."

Lloyd is on pace to catch 19 passes for the entire season, far from what is expected from the No. 2 receiver in any offense. He said he's adjusted well to the new scheme, but he's also had to adjust to playing in an offense that relies heavily on running back Clinton Portis and fellow receiver Santana Moss.

"I can think of two numbers that need to be called before my number," Lloyd said. "To make this team as successful as it was last year, the playmakers on this team last year need to get the touches before I do, so I'm not in a position to say anything. I'm not in a position to pout. I'm not in a position to be frustrated, because that's not going to help me when my number gets called."

That explanation doesn't mesh with the fact that Antwaan Randle El, the No. 3 wideout, already has 14 receptions with less playing time. Lloyd's slow start does, however, reflect the offense's inconsistency as a whole. The Redskins (2-3) had two explosive victories over Houston and Jacksonville, but the offense has scored only one touchdown in the other three games combined.

The way to stop the Redskins, if the first five weeks of the season are any indication, is to have the cornerbacks and safeties play the deep "Cover 2" zone. The receivers have become so sick of seeing it that Moss this week started to belittle defenses for using it.

"Cover 2, you don't have to do much. That ain't being a great pass defense," Moss said. "I've never played corner before, but I'll be a phenomenal corner in Cover 2."

The Redskins have tried to beat the zone with runs and short passes, but they can't keep their drives alive. The offense is only 6-for-13 in converting third downs with three yards or fewer to go. As a result, they ran only 45 plays in last week's 19-3 loss to the New York Giants.

"The receivers are a lot more difficult to get involved than a running back," assistant coach Al Saunders said. "A running back, you can hand them the ball. The receivers, you've got to throw the ball to them. It involves protection, it involves routes, it involves what the coverage is, it involves accurate throws."

At least Lloyd is getting a chance to make an impact. Duckett and Patten can't even get on the field.

The Redskins traded the equivalent of a third-round pick -- the exact compensation will be determined after the season -- to get Duckett from Atlanta, a move that smacked of panic because Portis had just gone down with a shoulder injury during preseason.

But Portis already had a backup, Ladell Betts. Even when Portis missed a game, Duckett was able to get only five carries for 24 yards. Otherwise, he hasn't played.

Gibbs keeps saying how badly he feels for the five-year veteran, but the coach said the trade was worth the price.

"That question wouldn't have been asked of me if Clinton had been out three straight games," Gibbs said. "Everyone would say, 'You fumbled that one, didn't you?"

Patten signed a $13 million, five-year contract as a free agent last year with expectations of being a No. 1 receiver after being part of an ensemble group in New England. He had only 22 catches in 2005 before injuring his knee in November, and the Redskins swatted him down the depth chart in the offseason when they signed Lloyd and Randle El. He has one catch this year for 25 yards.

Patten is 32. Duckett is 25. Neither expected to be a bench-warmer at this point in his career. To their credit, neither has publicly complained.

"It's been an experience, but that's part of the job," Duckett said. "You just prepare and prepare, and when your opportunity comes, take advantage of it."

Said Patten: "Everybody wants to play, everybody wants to suit up, but the bottom line is you're part of a team. You have roles that you have to fill and perform. My role (Sunday) was to be sort of a cheerleader from the sidelines."

Game notes
CB Shawn Springs took more work in practice Thursday and even had an interception, offering a glimmer of hope that he will make his season debut Sunday against Tennessee. "Getting better," said Springs, who has been out with abdomen and groin injuries. He is listed as questionable on the injury report. ... DE Phillip Daniels (back), DT Cornelius Griffin (hip), LB Marcus Washington (hip), G Derrick Dockery (leg) and Patten (thigh) did not practice, but all are listed as probable. P Derrick Frost (calf) returned to practice and is probable. DT Joe Salave'a (calf) is questionable.