- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 26, 2000

Backup tight end Irv Smith abruptly quit the Washington Redskins yesterday after losing confidence in himself.

Just more than two weeks have passed since Smith, 28, signed a one-year contract for the veteran minimum. The Redskins had required the former first-round pick whose weight balloons each offseason to drop to about 260 pounds from 287.

"He did a hell of a job to lose the weight to get into camp," coach Norv Turner said. "I think he may have lost it too fast. He just didn't feel his heart was in it, and felt that was the best thing to do."

The departure of Smith, who could not be reached for comment, makes career Redskin James Jenkins almost certain to play his 10th season in Washington. Jenkins, who turns 33 next month, has just 38 career receptions but plenty of value as a blocker. On Sunday he put on a clinic against rookie LaVar Arrington during the linebacker's first practice.

Jenkins, however, refused to call his job secure.

"I never feel secure," Jenkins said. "I always feel like I'm fighting for my job, every time I go on the field."

Smith lifted weights this morning and participated in the team's walk-through, but didn't show up for the afternoon practice.

"He had been upbeat during the meetings and the first part of camp, and it seemed like he was enjoying himself," tight end Stephen Alexander said. "It was kind of shocking."

Harrison injured

Reserve defensive end Nolan Harrison sprained an MCL and will miss at least 2-4 weeks.

Harrison, 31, was working in the full-contact run drill when a teammate fell on his leg. He was carted from the field. Harrison was scheduled to have an MRI last night. Trainer Bubba Tyer said Harrison could be out for the season in the worst-case scenario.

Harrison signed for the veteran minimum last month, basically supplanting Anthony Cook.

Davis held back

Pro Bowl running back Stephen Davis participated a bit more, taking part in blocking and pass-catching drills, but remained sidelined for the more physical parts of practice.

Davis, the Redskins' franchise player, signed a one-year contract Saturday after a two-day holdout. The fifth-year veteran attributed his limited work to the slow process of getting reacquainted. Davis did not participate in summer workouts.

"I'm just easing into it," Davis said. "It's just because I haven't been out there they want to work me in slowly. I'm fine with it."

Said Turner: "We put him out in the 7-on-7 to get him out in space and let him run and cut. He looks full-speed to me. We're just going to add a little bit each day."

N.D. steps up

With Bruce Smith resting for most of practice, fourth-year end N.D. Kalu (heretofore the hard-to-pronounce Ndukwe) got most of the reps with the first-string unit. Coaches love Kalu's speed and hope he can develop more run-stopping ability.

"My goal this training camp is, if Bruce is tired or God forbid he's hurt, I want to be the first one they call," Kalu said. "I don't want it to be like last year, when I was in on first and second down and everybody's holding their breath including myself… . I'm gaining weight. I'm up to 267. I feel with the added strength I can be an all-around player."

Best of the decade

First-year Redskins Bruce Smith and Deion Sanders both made the NFL's All-Decade team, which was named by the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and released yesterday. Smith was a starting defensive end, while Sanders was a starting cornerback and the punt returner. Career Redskin Darrell Green, 40, was named a reserve cornerback.

"It's something I can appreciate at a later date," Smith said. "There's some great talent. A few people who should have been there weren't there, but it's hard to include everybody. It was just great to be a part of it."

Extra points

Several other reserves were injured. Receiver Jamie Deese, tight end Chris Smith and guard Michael Moore sprained ankles and were listed day-to-day. Guard Jon Osterhout sprained a rotator cuff and should be out at least a few days… . The Redskins moved yesterday's practice up a half-hour to 3 p.m. Anytime that happens, spectators can get in free to another practice. Fans got a voucher as they left… . Quarterback Brad Johnson threw two more interceptions, to Shawn Barber and Champ Bailey… . Receiver Michael Westbrook got past Sanders for another wide-open touchdown.

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