- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 5, 2007

BALTIMORE — Insane. That’s what Baltimore tight end Todd Heap said about playing football in the 141-degree bowl of M&T; Bank Stadium. But the grueling heat was fitting for the Washington Redskins as they learned again yesterday that they still have plenty of work to do to become a better team than they were during their ugly 5-11 season.

Normally, a scrimmage means little with the four-game preseason and 16-game regular season still ahead. But the Redskins could have used some good news after a winless preseason was followed by a disastrous 2006.

Yesterday’s 10-7 loss to the host Ravens before a sweat-soaked crowd of 25,322 wasn’t exactly the crisp showing the Redskins would have preferred, even considering how regulars played when it counted.

“Our guys are getting tired of going against each other,” Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said. “It was good to see some new faces. We wanted to take a look at some guys that we thought have a chance and we thought this would be our best opportunity to do it … because [Saturday’s preseason opener at Tennessee] will be a whole different deal.”

Indeed. Left guard hopeful Todd Wade was the only expected offensive starter on the field during yesterday’s 11-on-11 work.

“They wanted to take me out after the first [series], but I felt like I could improve on few things, so I asked them to let me go out there and go again and as the day went on it got better and better,” said the 30-year-old, who after eight years in the NFL as a tackle is making the transition to guard.

Stephon Heyer, the rookie free agent from Maryland who surprisingly has been the No. 1 left tackle since Chris Samuels sprained a knee on July 30, was equally pleased.

“I know I was going against premier athletes, but it was still football,” Heyer said. “You can’t worry about anything except coming off the ball. I did that today.”

Only five defensive regulars — tackle Joe Salave’a, linebackers London Fletcher and Rocky McIntosh, and safeties Sean Taylor and LaRon Landry — played when statistics were kept.

Jason Campbell, beginning his first full year as the starting quarterback, was held out of the actual scrimmage, but he hit James Thrash with a pretty touchdown pass in 7-on-7 drills, while cornerback Fred Smoot celebrated his return to a Redskins uniform with an interception and in-your-face move in front of the Ravens’ bench.

“I thought we got a lot of accomplished,” said Campbell, who took 10 of the 15 snaps in 7-on-7. “They played a lot of zone, so when they were doing that, I had to take what they were giving me.”

That’s more than former starting quarterback Mark Brunell could say. And veteran third-stringer Todd Collins and rookie Jordan Palmer both tossed ugly balls. However, Palmer did redeem himself with a 24-yard touchdown strike to long shot receiver Burl Toler for Washington’s only points.

“I haven’t been getting a whole lot of reps [in practice], so the touchdown was a good way to cap off the first week,” Palmer said. “It gets you a little hungrier for next week. I’m excited for Monday.”

Asked how much longer he can carry five quarterbacks, Gibbs said, “we’re probably going to have make some decisions there.”

Since Palmer had the day’s big throw and is a draft pick, NFL Europa star Casey Bramlet — who threw just two passes yesterday — could well be the odd man out as soon as this week.

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