- The Washington Times - Friday, September 21, 2001

Washington Redskins quarterback Jeff George ended his silence with reporters yesterday but continued to decline comment about the team's 30-3 loss at San Diego in the season opener.
George was pulled in the third quarter of that game and had declined most interviews since. He did speak twice on George Michael's Monday show on WRC-TV appearances for which he is compensated and to reporters Tuesday at Washington Hospital Center.
Yesterday he shrugged off his decision to ignore the media, saying he simply didn't feel like talking about the loss and still doesn't.
"I just want to move forward," George said. "[My silence] wasn't anything about dodging [interviews]. I just didn't want to talk about it. It happened and we dealt with it. For me and the team to move forward, the best thing is not bring it up."
George completed eight of 18 passes for 66 yards with two interceptions at San Diego. He also fumbled two snaps before being replaced by Tony Banks. Coach Marty Schottenheimer took several days to consider his options and then retained George as the starter.
Neither Schottenheimer nor George's teammates seemed to care about George's silence. Private conversations revealed that players remain confident they can win with George as the starter. Perhaps as a sign of that, teammates kidded him as he met with reporters after practice, yelling, "Don't let 'em break you, J.G. Power to the people."
But it remains unclear whether George can be a leader. Unifying a team is a trademark of great quarterbacks, particularly the one Washington faces this week: three-time Most Valuable Player Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers.
But George shot down the concept of leadership,
much the way he dismissed the idea earlier this season that the offense needed to gain a sense of rhythm to perform well.
"That leadership stuff, too, that's all overrated," George said. "If you win, you're doing everything right. It's like last year [the Redskins charging admission to] training camp. If we would have won last year, the whole league would have went to the type of training camp we had… . The bottom line is you have to win. I know that. Coach knows that. The owners know that… . Winning takes care of everything."
Talk of a quarterback controversy flared after the opener was forgotten after the terrorist attacks Sept. 11. Another poor performance by George could re-ignite debate over who should start. George said he isn't worried about being pulled again. Instead, he called attention to other areas of the team that need improvement.
"I've always had the confidence in myself," George said. "Certain things you can't control. I want to go in there and take control of the offense and lead this team to a few touchdowns. And it's not just us as an offense. We have to play better on both sides of the ball. We can't give up touchdowns on special teams, and if we turn the ball over, we have to have confidence in our defense that we're going to stop them.
"There's so much more room for improvement, not just at the quarterback position but at every position."

Campbell might start

The only possible change in the starting lineup could come at right guard, where undrafted rookie David Brandt might give way to veteran Matt Campbell. The move would be due to the sprained right knee Brandt suffered in the opener, not Brandt's play, Schottenheimer said.
But Brandt remains the likely starter, having participated in all of practice in recent days. He is not listed on the injury report.
Two Redskins with flu-like illnesses made progress. Strongside linebacker LaVar Arrington participated in parts of practice and remained in line to play. Fullback Bryan Johnson returned from the hospital and watched practice. Johnson likely will be available if he has no setbacks today, Schottenheimer said.

Looking for action

Running back Ki-Jana Carter showed promise during the preseason but didn't get any playing time in the opener, a product of Schottenheimer's one-rusher philosophy and the Redskins' large deficit for much of the game.
Carter led the club in the preseason with 115 rushing yards, including a 38-yard touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons. He remains a candidate to be the third-down back, though fullback Donnell Bennett held that role in the opener. Featured back Stephen Davis also could become the third-down back.
Carter hopes for at least a few plays Monday. The top draft pick by the Bengals in 1995, whose promising career has been sidetracked by injuries, Carter doesn't enjoy his inactivity but accepts his role.
"Toward the end of my career in Cincinnati, it was getting like that," Carter said. "You've got to be a professional in this business. When they call your number, you've got to be ready."

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