- The Washington Times - Monday, October 1, 2001

Washington Redskins receiver Michael Westbrook may be released as team officials continue to seek scapegoats for the poor start.
According to team sources, coach Marty Schottenheimer is expected to make several personnel moves in coming days. However, no coaching changes are expected.
Westbrook appears vulnerable just one week after quarterback Jeff George was unexpectedly cut. Westbrook's 10 catches in three games this season include only two first downs. He also has bothered some team officials with several dropped balls. Team sources said Westbrook needed a good effort yesterday to remain, but he caught only two passes for 17 yards before suffering a bruised buttocks and back.
Schottenheimer has released several players who disagreed with his rigid system, including fullback Larry Centers during the offseason and George following the 0-2 start. Westbrook repeatedly tried to understand the new scheme, but admitted confusion over his expected role.
"The coaches are saying 'Buy into it. Buy into it.' I don't understand what that means. As a player, all I know is you coach me and I do what you ask me to. That's all I can do," he said. "I'm lost. I have no clue what to say. All I can do is play as hard as I can. Just do my job. Do what's asked of me. I'm not trying to get caught up in politics."
Westbrook returned in the third quarter for a 3-yard catch before coaches pulled him. Westbrook felt he could have continued playing after he received treatment at halftime.
"I felt like I wasn't called on enough," Westbrook said. "I felt like I could have helped more earlier, but it's not my offense. I'm here to do what I'm told."

Barber injures knee
Linebacker Shawn Barber will undergo an MRI today for a sprained knee that could sideline him at least two games. Marty Schottenheimer indicated the injury was serious; a major departure from his usual stance of downplaying injuries.
Barber was injured with 2:30 remaining in the third quarter during a 15-yard completion.
"I was chasing the play and one of the downfield blockers caught me [high] on one leg and the knee just gave way," Barber said. "Hopefully, I'll be back in a couple weeks."

Many happy returns
Kick returner Michael Bates continues a solid early season, averaging 28.6 yards on five kickoffs, including a 41-yarder.
"They're just giving me a seam to run," Bates said. "We're still coming together as a unit. There's a lot of people that haven't played with each other, but it's improving."
The Redskins switched to receiver Kevin Lockett on punt returns deep in their own territory. However, he lost two yards on both returns. Bates will return punts near midfield, though he handled only one in the first two games.
"Michael is a weapon, creating good field position for us," Marty Schottenheimer said. "We can't get the offense, defense and kicking game to play on the same level in the same football game. That's the bottom line."

Missed chances
The Redskins opening drive was their longest of the season only to end with a field goal after two controversial calls prevented a touchdown.
Receiver Rod Gardner appeared to have caught a 12-yard touchdown pass in the left corner, but officials ruled his left foot was out of bounds. The Redskins challenged it unsuccessfully and lost a timeout.
On the following play, tight end Stephen Alexander's catch in the back of the end zone was also ruled out. Marty Schottenheimer didn't challenge it after being informed by assistant coaches in the booth that the call was correct.

Vermeil verbal shots
Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil blamed the Redskins' players for Washington's poor start and defended Marty Schottenheimer, his longtime coaching friend.
"They don't have enough good football players," Vermeil said. "If Marty Schottenheimer has enough good football players, I promise you they'll play well. He doesn't have to prove that to me."
Vermeil, who won the Super Bowl in his last coaching stop (with the St. Louis Rams, in 1999), believes that the bad attitudes of some Redskins are undermining Schottenheimer's efforts.
"[The Redskins have] got some old guys that like to bitch and moan when they finally have to go to work for a living," Vermeil said. "I've been through that [stuff] before."
Told of those comments, Schottenheimer replied: "I think we have some pretty good players. I wouldn't want to hide behind that, frankly."

DeLoach, Pierce struggle
First-year defensive tackle Jerry DeLoach and undrafted rookie linebacker Antonio Pierce were ineffective in their first starts, contributing to the poor play of the Redskins' defense.
DeLoach, who started on the interior while Kenard Lang moved to left end for injured Marco Coleman (elbow), was pulled after a first half that saw Chiefs running back Priest Holmes gain 120 yards on 13 carries. Pierce, in for strongside linebacker LaVar Arrington (knee), played the whole game but made conspicuous mistakes at times.
Marty Schottenheimer was reluctant to comment on either player after the game, saying he needed to watch the tape. When specifically asked about Pierce, he added: "When you have a performance like that I don't think you could ever point at one person. There's a lot of things that factor into it."

Lang thriving
Kenard Lang already was a success in his first season as a full-time tackle despite his 6-foot-4, 281-pound frame. Yesterday he continued his outstanding play at end before moving back to tackle when Jerry DeLoach was pulled.
Lang finished with six tackles. Several could have made a difference if the Redskins' defense had held up. A first-and-20 pounding of Priest Holmes on a 2-yard shovel pass, for example, set up a third-and-12 with Washington leading late in the first quarter. But tight end Tony Gonzalez caught a 14-yard pass that propelled a 70-yard touchdown drive.
Lang, despite his standout play, declined to discuss any personal accomplishments.
"I felt fine, but it's irrelevant because we lost the game," said the 1997 first-round pick who is in the final year of his contract. "I can care less. It's like Mark McGwire said. He doesn't care if he hits another home run just as long as his team wins. That's how I feel. I want to win games. I want that ring. That's my objective."
Marty Schottenheimer, reluctant to discuss individual performances post-game, said: "Based on what I can see, and what I know has taken place up to this point, I'm delighted with his play. He's playing with a lot of effort. He's making plays."

Gardner's evolution
Rookie Rod Gardner had a mixed day but one that ultimately could be called the best of his young career.
The first-round draft pick caught five passes for 55 yards to become the team leader in both categories (10 catches for 105 yards). He also caught a 26-yard scoring pass, the Redskins' only touchdown of the season, but he couldn't come down with a near-touchdown on the first drive and allowed a deep pass to drop through his hands in the third quarter.
Of the last play, a third-and-1 error that ended the competitive portion of the game, Gardner said: "I wasn't concentrating. I thought it was there. When [cornerback Eric Warfield] stuck his hand in the way it kind of blinded me for a second. But I'm not worried about that. I'll go out on Monday and work on that play 10, 15 times to make sure I get it the next time."
Said Marty Schottenheimer: "It's tough for any rookie to come in and make big plays, particularly in light of what we've done at the quarterback position. But he's made good progress, and that's all you can ask for out of a young player. He's going to have tough moments, but overall I think he's made pretty good progress."

Green as blocker
Trent Green did more than shred the Redskins' defense. On an important third-and-1 play at the Redskins 29 on their first touchdown drive, he helped spring Tony Richardson for a 14-yard gain by throwing a block on Keith Lyle, a good friend and former teammate in St. Louis.
"I'm not afraid to throw my body in there," Green said. "If that's what's going to help us move the ball and get a first down, those are the types of things you have to do. I've never thought twice about doing that."
Did he say anything to Lyle after the play?
"No, Keith and I talked before the game," Green said. "I'm sure he wasn't real happy about [the play]."

Extra points
The Redskins Relief Fund raised $35,000 at the stadium. The fund benefits Pentagon survivors. The team also wore baseball caps with the Pentagon's design and Sept. 11, 2001 and offered a moment of silence for usher Cecelia Richard, who was killed in the terrorist attack at the Pentagon… .
Linebacker LaVar Arrington, running back Kenny Watson, guard David Brandt, offensive tackle Ross Tucker, receiver Darnerien McCants and defensive ends Marco Coleman and Otis Leverette were inactive… . The Redskins have now allowed a 100-yard rusher in all three games.
Rick Snider, Jody Foldesy and Duff Durkin

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