- The Washington Times - Monday, August 6, 2001

Redskins leave Smoot all wet after hazing

Rookie cornerback Fred Smoot got some high-profile hazing after yesterday's lone practice, getting taped up to a goalpost at Biddle Field and having a cooler of ice water dumped on his head.

Veterans Bruce Smith and Marco Coleman led the attack, ushering the cocky second-round pick across the field and holding him against the padded post as a variety of players took turns wrapping him with athletic tape.

"We wanted to cool him down," Smith said with a grin as he walked off the field.

It seems Smoot was getting paid back for not taking his medicine Saturday night. Veterans dumped water in each of the rookies' beds, but they couldn't get Smoot because he refused to open his door.

"Everybody slept with a wet bed except me," Smoot explained. "I was smart… . They said they were room check, but I knew Bruce's voice. I sat on the other side [of the door] and talked noise."

Smoot took the ritual in good fun and showed it by summing it up with a little rhyme, followed by his plans for pay back. We'll give you a hint: It involves the Teamsters.

"During training camp, you can get hazed in many ways. That's just my first phase," Smoot said. "I formed a rookie union, and we're after them right now."

Need some kick

The kicking part of the kickoff drill didn't look too hot, at least to start, as kicker Brett Conway and backup punter Dan Frantz struggled to boom the ball downfield.

Frantz's first kickoff, in particular, wobbled low and went out of bounds to the left. Special teams coach Mike Stock got frustrated at that one because the half-speed drill was focused on simply getting the return and coverage teams into proper positions.

"All you gotta do is kick the [expletive] ball," Stock yelled at Frantz before his voice, standing out against a lull in crowd noise, was drowned out by spectators' laughter. Conway followed with a solid kick near the goal line and received a mock cheer.

The kicks improved as the drills progressed, though, and Conway ended it with a boomer through the end zone.

All for naught?

The Redskins have several promising young wide receivers in Latef Grim, an undrafted rookie from Pittsburgh; Justin Skaggs, an undrafted rookie from Evangel (Mo.); and Willie Spencer, a first-year player from Tiffin (Ohio). Each has made impressive catches during camp.

It's too bad there's no room for them. The corps is fairly set with Michael Westbrook, Kevin Lockett and Rod Gardner rotating among the top three positions and fourth-round draft pick Darnerien McCants and second-year veteran Derrius Thompson competing for the No. 4 spot. There's also CFL product Winston October, who has a decent shot because of his punt-return skills.

Grim is a sentimental favorite of coach Marty Schottenheimer because he came out of Pittsburgh. Skaggs and Spencer both are 6-foot-2. And Skaggs, in particular, has shown a nasty competitive streak.

All three are candidates for the practice squad, though another club would be able to claim them from there.

Observations

Donovan Greer seems to be getting more time than Darrell Green at first-string corner, though coach Marty Schottenheimer has said the two will rotate and that the competition is "wide open." Green doesn't seem to be making many plays. Fred Smoot, who is showing good closing quickness and the ability to jar the ball loose, also is in the mix to start… .

The emphasis on stripping the ball appears to be paying off for offensive and defensive players alike. Yesterday linebackers Robert Jones and Chaz Murphy stripped receiver Michael Westbrook on a short pass over the middle, while defensive back Greg Walls popped the ball from running back Stephen Davis. Many offensive players, meanwhile, are protecting the ball fiercely… .

A deep pass to Winston October bounced off his hands and thudded into Smoot's facemask. Yelled strength coach Dave Redding: "Way to use your head, Smoot."

Quick hits

• Practice times: 9 a.m., 3:15 p.m.

• Weather: 90 degrees, partly cloudy

• Injuries: Tight end Stephen Alexander (hamstring), linebacker Kevin Mitchell (ankle), receiver Darnerien McCants (ankle), offensive lineman Ross Tucker (knee) and defensive lineman Roderick Kelly (rib) missed practice and are day-to-day.

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