NFL Notebook: Redskins shake up NFC east

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Associated Press
The NFL notebook …
ASHBURN, Va. ó In less than a month, the mood needle on the Washington Redskins has swung from overwhelmed to overjoyed.
Whether it’s coach Jim Zorn leading cheers of “Hip, Hip, Hooray!” in the locker room or the usual pandemonium that follows any victory over the team the fans love to hate, the supposed bottom-feeders of the potent NFC East have made it known they intend to be a player when postseason berths are on the line in December.
“We’re not pulling up the rear,” receiver Antwaan Randle El said Monday. “We’re in the mix.”
No argument there, not after a 26-24 upset over the double-digit favorite Dallas Cowboys in the Redskins’ final regular-season game at Texas Stadium. After a dreadful opener against the New York Giants, Washington (3-1) has won three straight heading into another showdown Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles ó a game that, thanks to the oddball schedule, will be the last divisional road trip of the season.
“It was a game that helped keep the NFC East even, if you will,” said Zorn, the first Redskins coach to win at Dallas on his initial try since George Allen in 1971. “All four teams are solid teams, and it’s still anybody’s division. Our goals are still ahead of us, and we made that so by beating Dallas in Dallas.”
Both starting offensive tackles were injured, three linemen were playing in spots where they didn’t start the game, and a tight end had become the next option if somebody else got hurt.
All that, and Carolina didn’t give up a sack Sunday, allowing a hobbled Jake Delhomme to throw for 294 yards and two touchdowns in a convincing win over Atlanta.
In their 3-1 start, the Panthers have overcome three injuries to the offensive line, including losing Jordan Gross and Jeff Otah against the Falcons.
“It’s happened twice so far in four games,” coach John Fox said of linemen going down in games. “Both times those backups responded well and it wasn’t the same guys in the same positions as such.”
But there are concerns about how long Gross would be sidelined. The former first-round pick, who has played in all 91 regular-season and playoff games in six seasons, was knocked out when he was unintentionally kneed in the head after making a cut block in the first quarter.
“He was laying there and that was a scary sight,” teammate Travelle Wharton said. “I was hoping he would just move, hop up.”
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer expects to be limited in practice this week by a sore elbow on his passing arm, but insists he’ll be ready for the next game against the Dallas Cowboys.
Four games into the season, the two-time defending AFC West champion Chargers (2-2) are one game behind the Denver Broncos, who beat them 39-38 two weeks ago after a controversial call by referee Ed Hochuli.