- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 4, 2004

Smoot hopes to sign long-term contract

Washington Redskins cornerback Fred Smoot, a free agent-to-be whose stock continues to rise each week, said yesterday he hopes to sign a long-term contract extension with the club.

“I want to be here, man. I’m a Washington Redskin,” said Smoot, who is in the final year of his contract. “I feel like I’ve put too much work here losing. I want to see those golden days. When they come, I want to be in the midst of it.”

The Redskins have known for some time that they soon will face a decision on Smoot, who signed a four-year, $2.8 million contract as a rookie in 2001. The subject of frequent trade rumors in past years, Smoot is establishing himself as one of the top young cornerbacks in the NFL and could be a hot commodity when he becomes a free agent in the spring.

“Don’t tell him that,” coach Joe Gibbs said jokingly yesterday. “He’s not free yet.”

Washington’s coaches have good reason to want to keep Smoot from hitting the open market. Always considered a decent cover corner, the 25-year-old has expanded his game since the departure of Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey and has become one of the Redskins’ toughest players. Despite injuring both of his shoulders Oct. 17 at Chicago, Smoot continues to play and had a key interception last week against Green Bay.

“He’s a leader by the way he plays,” Gibbs said. “The Chicago game, not many people would have done what he did. … For me, he’s been someone I think is a real Redskin. He’s our kind of guy and is a big part of the team.”

The two sides have not begun discussing a new contract.

New return man

The Redskins signed wide receiver/kick returner Antonio Brown yesterday, filling the void created Tuesday when return specialist Chad Morton was placed on IR with a torn ACL.

Brown spent last season in Buffalo, playing under special teams coach Danny Smith, who now leads the Redskins’ unit. The 5-foot-9, 170-pounder appeared in all 16 games for the Bills, returning 48 kickoffs for 1,046 yards and 25 punts for 111 yards.

Brown could be used on returns Sunday at Detroit, Gibbs said, but it might be tough finding an available roster spot for him. Washington also could turn to receiver James Thrash and running back Ladell Betts to take over Morton’s duties.

“It’ll depend on what we’re trying to do with the roster right now. We’re trying to figure it out,” Gibbs said. “If we can get [Brown] up, he’ll run them back. But right now, we’re struggling with that.”

Brown just hopes to get a chance to show what he can do.

“My role is to come in and do the little things right, come in as a receiver and as a kickoff and punt returner and just take advantage of my opportunity when it presents itself,” he said.

Election streak snapped

President Bush’s victory over Sen. John Kerry brought an end to the much-discussed connection between the Redskins and presidential elections.

For the first time since they became known as the Redskins in 1933, the outcome of the club’s final home game before an election did not accurately predict the winner of the Oval Office. Washington’s 28-14 loss to Green Bay on Sunday should have guaranteed a victory by challenger Kerry.

So after correctly predicting the last 17 presidential elections, the Redskins finally got one wrong. Or did they?

Several players yesterday pointed out that had a controversial illegal motion penalty on Thrash not been called in the fourth quarter Sunday, Washington would have won the game and kept the streak alive.

Said defensive end Phillip Daniels: “I guess even the presidential race showed that the call should have gone our way.”

Extra points

Injured linebacker LaVar Arrington is expected to make a second trip to Dr. James Andrews, an orthopedic specialist, to have his injured right knee re-examined. Arrington, who has missed the Redskins’ last five games and is expected to be out another four weeks, will spend three or four days at Andrews’ offices in Birmingham, Ala., according to Gibbs. …

Kicker John Hall (pulled groin) was officially declared out for Sunday’s game at Detroit. Ola Kimrin will replace him for the third straight game. …

Defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin (back) and receiver Rod Gardner (hip) did not practice yesterday but are listed as probable for Sunday’s game. Linebacker Mike Barrow (knee) practiced and is questionable.

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