- The Washington Times - Friday, August 11, 2000

The Washington Redskins are close to being complete.

A week after stars like Stephen Davis and Bruce Smith sat out a 13-12 preseason loss at Tampa Bay, the Redskins' projected starting lineup is missing just one member rookie linebacker LaVar Arrington for Friday night's preseason game against New England at FedEx Field.

Davis is expected to get just six carries, Smith 15 to 20 plays and no other starter will play more than a half. But with Arrington ready to end his stay on second string, the Redskins' grand experiment is nearly finished. And they're eager to see another round of results.

"I just hope we perform well," said Smith, who sat out but was not injured at Tampa Bay. "The only thing I'm worried about is everybody being on the same page. It's going to take the rest of this preseason for each of us to feel comfortable."

Last week Washington's starting lineup minus running back Davis, right defensive end Smith and left end Marco Coleman led Tampa Bay 3-0 when many starters sat down at the end of the first quarter.

But both first-string units have room for improvement. The offense went three-and-out twice and settled for a field goal on a possession that started at the Bucs' 37. The defense allowed Shaun King to complete six of seven passes, and its brief shutout was aided by a missed field goal and a fumble by King.

Offensively, the continuity of playing an entire half is expected to help.

"It does," left guard Keith Sims said. "Most of the starting unit was only out there for 10 plays against Tampa. You really couldn't get into a flow. You're always going to start games with three-and-outs, but you'll have a whole game to get in sync."

Coach Norv Turner considers continuity the most important of several areas he will watch tonight.

"There's a couple of things I look for in a preseason game," Turner said. "I'd like to see us run the ball efficiently. I'd like to see us play with some efficiency on third downs. And then I'd always like to see us get an eight-to-10 play drive together."

Starting quarterback Brad Johnson will play the entire first half, a setup that is standard operating procedure and not a comment on the situation of Jeff George, the $18.25 million backup who threw two interceptions last week.

"I'm playing the exact same schedule as I was last year," Johnson said. "Rodney [Peete] last year took the same reps."

George's playing time will be determined, in part, at halftime. If Turner stays with the form of past seasons, George should play about a quarter while rookie Todd Husak does the same.

"[Turner] hasn't even brought [my playing time] up," George said. "I'm OK with whatever he decides."

Davis is ready to go after being worked slowly into training camp. He missed all of summer drills and the first two days of camp while unsigned. He also spent time this summer rehabilitating a high ankle sprain suffered late last season, but he's not worried about Friday night's first hit.

"When I'm in there, I'm going to play 110 percent," Davis said.

Meanwhile, the Redskins' defensive starters are looking to make some big plays with Smith and Coleman in the lineup.

"I want to see us go out and fly around and not worry about mistakes," free safety Mark Carrier said. "Guys should just go after people. We've got the understanding now, and the jitters are out of the way. We just need to go play."

And Arrington is ready to perform after a week of hard work and realizing that he took some things for granted during his six-day holdout and subsequent first week of camp.

"Now that I've been in an NFL game situation and I know what to expect, I plan on making some huge strides," said Arrington, who said his performance at Tampa Bay "sucked." The draft's second overall pick will play most of the second half.

In contrast to Arrington, most Redskins will be content with smaller strides. For them, even a small amount of progress with preseason games remaining at Cleveland (Aug. 19) and against Pittsburgh (Aug. 25) will be enough.

"There's a progression of working into it," Johnson said. "Last week we had some starters that didn't play. This week we'll have all our guns in there. So we just want to be very sharp and make some plays."

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