Learning the ropes

9-21-03, 8:30 a.m.

In this week's installment of Bengals wide receiver Kelley Washington's weekly diary of life as a rookie in the NFL, he looks at the value of playing behind veterans in Peter Warrick and Chad Johnson. They didn't have the same benefits. Warrick arrived as one of three rookies and two second-year players at the position on Opening Day in 2000. When Johnson came a year later, Warrick was the team's leading receiver.

They've been here three or four years and they know the offense like the back of their hand. You need to have people around to take the pressure off you, and when it's your time to shine, it's your time to shine, and I have to get better with the fundamentals of wide receiver. These are two good players to watch. They're always helping me with every little bit.

This is my third year of playing wide receiver and they've been playing it their whole life. The different things you need to know as a wide receiver, these guys have it. I constantly watch them in practice and talk to them. Whether it be the depth of the route, whether it be what their thought process is going into the route. Blitz adjustments. How to run a route going against which defenses. They're both approachable. Regular guys. It's just like talking to them on the side of the street. Every single day I watch those guys and then watch them on tape as far as their one-on-one routes when we do one-on-ones because they all do something real, real special.

When you're dealing with football, you have different players that have different personalities. I like that in Chad that he talks a lot. That's the type of player I've always been, and I'd like to be once I get very comfortable. I can do a lot of things like that.

With Chad, we talk a lot about technique and speed. Releases are the big thing with him. He's great at getting off the line of scrimmage. He's just so quick. I think he's got an idea what he wants to do even before the ball is snapped. He's good at releasing off the line and then getting up field vertically.

It's feet and hands. It helps me a lot because I'm bigger and stronger than those guys, but if I can get it all together, feet, hands, power, it's going to be tough for guys to contain me off the line. When Chad and I talk about releases, we work on it together. I might tell him how he can do something better with his hands, or he'll talk to me about my feet.

Peter's a guy I just like to line up with and joke with. I really like how he plays. I watched him in college He's very approachable, but he's a guy who takes care of business. He's looking to have his break-out year and trying to show the world, the NFL, that he is the star he was in college.

We're different type of receivers. He's a quicker guy and I'm a more bigger speed guy. I just try to pick his brain on running routes. He's a guy that has moves nobody else has. I talk to him about it and he tells me about staying low, staying balanced, always coming down back to the ball. He does a good job of staying low and coming out of his breaks. He did it in college, and people saw a glimpse last week of what he's capable of doing.

They've been around different players and different situations in the NFL and played against so many players. If those guys have played against that defensive back, they'll tell me. They'll give me hints. They talked about Charles Woodson of the Raiders last week. They told me he's not really going to jam you, he's going to try and mirror you. He's not really going to go in and try to make a tackle, but he will, so you block him and kind of get in his head, kind of talk to him.

Even though I didn't have a catch Sunday, I like to think I contributed. I ran my routes hard and I think I'm getting better with my blocking. Woodson is one of the best guys out there and I felt like I got off the line well with my releases.

I had two balls thrown at me. There was double coverage on one and the other one was a fade route down the sideline. It got knocked away at the last minute, but it was one-on-one and you have to win when you're one-on-one no matter what happens. I've got to win my share of those and those are the kinds of things I'm trying to improve on.

I know it will take time. I know that those guys are the first and second options. I just want to contribute to help them do what they have to do, and I'm going to continue to play my role.

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