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Clements' Coverage: Redskins


Cornerback Nate Clements checks in for his final column of the year as the 49ers get ready to play their final game of the 2008 season this Sunday against the Redskins.
I think for the Redskins offense, it starts with their offensive line. They are big guys, and when you have a running back like Clinton Portis, you can do some things in the run game. He pounds it and gets first downs and creates great field position for them. We want to be aggressive and get on him and early and not let him get his confidence going.

In the passing attack, first of all, you've got to be prepared for their quarterback in Jason Campbell, University of Auburn, 6-5, 230-pounds. He's probably quicker than he is fast, but he has a strong arm. Campbell is an agile quarterback, and I think he keeps plays alive with his feet. Like I said, he has a very strong arm, and when he's not harassed he makes accurate throws.

I think the opportunities are there, you just have to get to them. If we sit back and give him time, his efficiency goes up and he makes good throws.

Santana Moss is a quick receiver and he's explosive. He makes a lot of big plays for them. The only thing that he really lacks is the size. A scout would say that, but it really doesn't matter in this game, because he makes plays. He runs good intermediate and deep routes. He has the ability to take a short play and make it a touchdown. We know that the ball is going to be thrown to him, so whenever he gets the ball, we have to try to minimize the yardage after the catch.

Antwaan Randle El is an excellent slot receiver. He's a quick receiver and he finds the holes to get open. He is also a threat because of his arm. As a former quarterback, we know he's got a history of being used for gadget plays. When the ball is in his hands, he has the ability to run or throw it.

Devin Thomas is a big physical receiver. It's his rookie year and I think each week he's progressing, learning the system and gaining confidence. Right now, we know that Randle El and Santana Moss are the featured guys, but I think that will come to Thomas too in time. He has decent hands and brings size to their receiving core.

Tight end Chris Cooley knows how to get open. He knows how to get separation, not with speed, but when he's covered one-on-one, he finds ways to get open. He does that pretty well.

Obviously, our number one goal is to stop the run game. We know they have one of the top rushers in the league, so we want to stop the run game and force them into long third down situations.

The last few weeks, I think we've really been focused on finishing strong. We have been attacking and playing an aggressive style of football out there and that's something we want to continue. We have given up a few explosive plays, and that just comes down to communication. That's something we have to continue to work on so that we are all on the same page.

We have Christmas off, so I'll open some presents and spend time with the family, spend some time watching some film and looking at my playbook, and then probably just watching some basketball. I think the Lakers and the Celtics are on, so I'll check that out.

Merry Christmas and thanks for joining me this year for these columns!


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