November 13, 2007

Hanson outshines James

The only question is ... What took so long? Defensive backs coach John Harbaugh walked over to Joselio Hanson at halftime Sunday and told him he was going into the game at nickel cornerback, replacing the struggling William James.

Hanson responded with a solid second half, as the Eagles rallied from nine points down to beat the Redskins, 33-25.

James got beat twice for 31-yard catches by James Thrash, the former Eagle who had just 74 receiving yards in his 16 previous games over two seasons.

"He just told me, "Let's go,' so I went in and did what I always do — play the best I can,” Hanson said. "I always study and prepare like I'm going to start, so I was ready. I'm always ready to play.”

James wears No. 21 worn previously by Pro Bowl corners Eric Allen and Bobby Taylor, but he doesn't play like them.

It's rare for defensive coordinator Jim Johnson to bench somebody mid-game, but the way things were going, he had no choice.

How much of a difference did Hanson make? In the first half, the Redskins averaged 8.7 yards per pass attempt. In the second, they averaged 5.0.

"They just threw the ball downfield better than I thought they would (on James),” Johnson said. "We gave up some big plays downfield.”

We did? Or James did?

"I think he had one of those bad days,” Johnson said. "We'll see what happens next week. He competes hard. He let (Thrash) get outside and that was the biggest thing. We knew they were going to do that. Will knew that, too. He's an aggressive player. We've still got to get (pass) pressure. It comes down to pressure, too.”

Hanson certainly didn't do anything to warrant less playing time.

"I felt good out there,” said Hanson, who was the nickel in the four games Lito Sheppard missed earlier this year, when James started. "I feel like I can play with anybody in the league. Will's a good player, but when I'm out there, I'm always confident I can do a good job.”

>>Burlington Times

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