ASHBURN, Va. -- It's an annual rite of autumn. Carlos Rogers is going to cover his man, and he's going to drop a bunch of interceptions.
It's a story of frustration seemingly without end. The Washington Redskins' cornerback simply can't catch the ball.
"I should have about four or five, pretty much leading the league or at the top," Rogers said this week.
That should sound familiar. Here's Rogers from December 2006:
And then there was that playoff game in Seattle at the end of the 2005 season, when Rogers dropped an easy pick with no one in front of him. The touchdown would have given the Redskins a 10-0 lead in a game they eventually lost.
It happened again Sunday, when Rogers got his hands on two of Peyton Manning's passes in the first quarter of a 27-24 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Rogers actually had control of the first one and stumbled three steps with the ball -- only to have it pop loose when he hit the ground. That's not a catch under NFL rules, something now well-known after Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson's similar go-to-the-ground no-catch against Chicago earlier this year.
The second one would have been tougher. Rogers had a jump on the ball, but tight end Dallas Clark appeared to get a hand on it as well.
"He should be leading the league in interceptions," defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said Thursday. "I think he's having a good year anyway, but turnovers are the main thing in this league. He should (have) a minimum of five turnovers himself. Hopefully, he can put that away in the second half of the season and help us get a few, because that's what's going to help us win games."
By now, it's only a surprise when Rogers does hang on. He juggled the ball for some 5 yards before securing it against Houston in Week 2 for his only interception this season. That was just the seventh pick in a six-year NFL career.
"I sit and think about it, man," Rogers said this week. "But I'm not going to get myself down because somebody outside of here is talking about Carlos dropping picks or doing this. My main thing: I'd rather cover my man, cover the top receiver, lock him down, not let him catch the ball -- and I drop a pick, versus a receiver scoring touchdowns on me, keeping the chains moving, throwing the ball in my direction, but, oh, I got a pick that game. That's not going to sit well with me."
The new regime, with coach Mike Shanahan and Haslett, is trying the same remedy as the coaches before them: practice, practice, practice. Rogers has never had trouble hanging onto the ball during the drills at Redskins Park. Haslett said Rogers made the same catch during Wednesday's practice that was dropped in the game -- giving everyone a good laugh.
"You joke about it. You just take the pressure off a little bit," Shanahan said. "But he's been doing it in practice. Those will come because he has been much more consistent at practice the last three or four weeks than he was when we first got here."
Rogers' contract expires after this season, and there's no telling what kind of deal he could land if he were picking off seven passes per year instead of seven in his career. But, as he points out, that's not the main job of a cornerback.
"If I catch them, I catch them," Rogers said. "If I don't, I'm going to be mad, I'm still upset, it's not that I'm blowing it off, but I'm not going to get myself down where I get myself out of the element of my game. ... I don't like guys catching the ball on me. Period."
Notes: The Redskins' other starting cornerback, DeAngelo Hall, has allowed a league-high 35 catches this season, according to STATS. "He's been OK, not as good as he's been earlier in the season," Haslett said. "His back's been bothering him. ... We need him to be full-speed health-wise and mentally." ... Shanahan on Thursday was effusive in his praise for linebacker Lorenzo Alexander's work on special teams. "From top to bottom, he's the best special-teams player that I've been around," Shanahan said. "If he's not in the Pro Bowl on special teams, I don't know who would be."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press