- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 6, 2000

Terry Robiskie called Monday "the haze day" and yesterday "the clear-up day" because the tumult of his promotion finally began to dissipate on his first day of work as Washington Redskins interim coach.

Also revealed by yesterday's clearing was the rather high level of talent he inherited.

With the Redskins losing four of their past five games and coach Norv Turner being fired in a circus scene, lost was the fact that this team has $100 million worth of players and a decent shot at the playoffs. Washington (7-6), currently eighth in the NFC for six postseason berths, begins the three-game stretch run Sunday at Dallas (4-9).

"This is a team that's got a chance to win," Robiskie said. "Usually when you inherit a team like this, you're talking about, instead of being 7-6, they're 3-10 with three games left. The great part of this is you inherit a team that's not dead and still has hope of going to the playoffs."

Robiskie made a few minor changes yesterday, like asking Redskins scout Charlie Brown to act as an informal wide receivers coach and adjusting the practice schedule. The NFL's oldest team now will practice just once a day, rather than holding a morning walk-through and afternoon contact session.

"You reach that point with a lot of guys with bad bodies," Robiskie said. "[We want to] get 'em in, get 'em out… . We try to compact [the day] in and basically run [their duties] all together."

Keeping a job is kicker Eddie Murray who has missed his last three field goals, including a 49-yard potential game-winner Sunday but kickoff specialist Scott Bentley may not be so lucky. Robiskie planned to meet with player personnel director Vinny Cerrato about an immediate replacement for Bentley, whose kickoffs generally have gone to the 15-or 20-yard line.

Of most pressing concern this week is the offensive line, which has generated just 73 rushing yards and its worst pass protection of the season the past two games. Robiskie doesn't plan on any lineup changes but hopes to get left guard Keith Sims back in practice today for the first time since September.

"Keith just needs to go out and practice," Robiskie said. "I told Keith that one day he might have been a good player who could sit out for the week and go be a superstar, but he needs to get in the shape of doing things. We struggled a little bit [on the line] against the Giants, and we've got to correct some things."

Center Mark Fischer, who has struggled in recent weeks after appearing to be a solid stopgap for injured Cory Raymer, will retain his starting role.

Wide receiver James Thrash, nursing a bruised knee, will continue to skip some kickoff returns after relinquishing the duty in the second half of Sunday's game. Running backs Skip Hicks and Adrian Murrell were deep that day, and it appears they will play a similar backup role in at least part of this weekend's game.

"He might do one or two [kickoff returns], but … I don't think he's going to do it full time," Robiskie said. "We felt that he was getting beat up. He's got a tremendous work load on offense, and obviously he's got punt returns. We had to back off somewhere."

Robiskie wouldn't reveal whether cornerback Champ Bailey will resume some work on offense after Turner soured on Bailey's two-way effort more than a month ago.

"If we did [work Bailey on offense], I'd want it to be a surprise attack," Robiskie said.

Brown will work with the wide receivers on the practice field, as he did during training camp. Play installation will be left to Robiskie, the former passing game coordinator who now assumes a Turner-esque role of head coach and offensive coordinator. Robiskie said he would get offensive input from line coach Russ Grimm and quarterbacks coach Rich Olson.

Although Pat Flaherty, who accepted special-teams duties when LeCharls McDaniel was fired Monday, will continue to coach tight ends, assistant Jason Verduzco will help with the tight ends.

The playbook, meanwhile, is likely to simplify a bit during the stretch run, because Robiskie won't try to run as complex an offense as Turner.

"My brain is not as complex as Norv's," Robiskie said. "Norv's playbook is in his mind. My playbook's on my desk. I've got to study mine… . His brain's a computer; mine's just a little chip in there."

In that manner Robiskie continued to treat the subject of Turner with care, at one point saying he wouldn't have done anything differently to this point. Said Robiskie: "I'm just glad Coach Turner set it all up for me before he left. He made it all easy."

Nonetheless, the interim coach was preparing to move into the head coach's office, and the sign on Turner's parking space was removed in the morning and replaced in the afternoon.

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