When practices become games

10-26-03, 12:35 p.m. Another installment of wide receiver Kelley Washington's weekly diary of a NFL rookie. On Monday after the 34-26 victory over the Ravens, head coach Marvin Lewis singled out Washington for having the best game of his season despite not catching a pass.

It's encouraging to hear something like that. Marvin has had a lot of success as a coach. He gets on me a lot, but I know it's for good reasons. I know he's behind me and wants me to succeed out there.

While we were stretching before the game against the Ravens, he told me, 'I get on you so much because you're good.' He tries to say something to me every day. If I take a play off, he's on me about finishing and playing fast the whole time.

Practice is a big key for me. That's the biggest thing for a rookie. Taking what you do in practice and bringing it into the game. I'm used to being the man. I'm used to getting the balls that Chad Johnson gets. The biggest thing I realize is that Chad and

Peter Warrick are the first two options. I might not even get a ball thrown to me. I also realize that there are other ways to help the team, like blocking downfield and playing fast. That's what I bring. A big, fast guy who can run downfield.

Chad and Peter have been been playing wide receiver their whole lives. I've done it for two years, so practice and the reps I get are so important. That's the only thing you can control. The only thing you can do is make sure of you practice time and your practice habits and show the coaches you're going to make a play when you get the opportunity. I want them to be saying, "It might not be this game or this season, but he's going to be one of our guys that's going to be making all kinds of contributions in any way he can for us."

My goal is not to miss one practice the entire season. I think I did well this week. I can't say I didn't improve just because I didn't have a catch last week. I'm catching the ball consistently. The coaches are putting in plays for me. Each day, I'm just trying to stay positive in practice and I've made some plays on the scout team and with the first offense. That keeps you going.

Friday after practice I watched some extra tape with receivers coach Alex Wood. We don't have to watch it after practice on Fridays, but I watched the two-minute drills from Thursday. I was looking at the routes and getting ready for Seattle's defensive coverages and just what to expect on specific downs. Jut go over and make sure because Peter and Chad already know this stuff, but I want to have faith that I can just go out and do it.

Marvin walked by the film room and he saw me in there. He stopped by and told me that I had a good week of practice and that to hang in there and that it was all going to pay off at some point.

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