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Eagles 'D' Must Stop The 'Rock'

Long known for his role as a standout on Washington's special teams, Rock Cartwright figures to see his most extensive action of the season when the Redskins visit Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday.

With Clinton Portis sidelined for a third straight game with a concussion and Ladell Betts on injured reserve after tearing two knee ligaments last week at Dallas, Cartwright will make his fourth career start Sunday, and his first start since Dec. 27, 2003, which ironically came against the Eagles.

The 5-foot-8, 213-pound Cartwright proved last Sunday that he's more than capable of shouldering the load in the backfield. After Betts went down midway through the first quarter, Cartwright stepped in and set career highs with 140 yards from scrimmage, seven receptions and 73 receiving yards. He also rushed for 67 yards on 13 carries.

Cartwright's work carrying the rock certainly has the attention of the Eagles players, who know him more as Washington's kickoff return specialist the last four seasons and one of its leading special teams tacklers.

"He's always been a good running back," said linebacker Will Witherspoon. "I think most people thought otherwise of him because he hasn't been 'the guy' on the field all the time. He's always been a great runner, he's always been a guy who gets downhill and he's always been one of those guys who knows exactly what he needs to do.

"I think now that his time's come he's just making the best of it. You can't underestimate him."

Cartwright's 13 carries against Dallas last Sunday were his most since Dec. 21, 2003, when he also had 13, at Chicago. His lone career game with more than 13 rushes came the week before, on Dec. 14, 2003, versus Dallas. Against the Eagles on Dec. 27, 2003, Cartwright rushed for 43 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries and also caught five passes for 53 yards.

"He's a guy that runs hard and to me, has worked for everything that he's got in this league so far. I have a lot of respect for the way he plays the game," defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said. "I think we've faced them over the years with or without [RB Clinton] Portis and then [RB] Ladell Betts has stepped in and hurt us. So, this is a team that has a very formidable running game and the second and third running backs that come in are just as capable in my mind, and bring the same things to the table."

In additon to Cartwright, the Eagles may also see a pair of other running backs -- one-time Tennessee Titan Quinton Ganther and Marcus Mason, who has been cut by the Redskins three times since signing as a rookie free agent in 2007 and who re-signed on Monday after Betts went on injured reserve.

The Eagles cannot not afford to take any of these backs lightly. Remember last week when rookie Khalil Bell came off the Bears practice squad and rushed four times for 81 yards.

Entering Sunday's game, Philadelphia's run defense ranks ninth in the league, allowing 101.9 yards per game.

-- Posted by Bob Kent, 4:42 p.m., November 28

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