- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 25, 2000

Washington Redskins kicker Brett Conway spent every day of the offseason thinking about what might have been.

Would Conway have sent the Redskins to the NFC Championship with a late game-winning field goal against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the playoffs? Could he have kicked a career-long 52-yarder for a 16-14 victory?

Conway will never know, and that's what frustrates him. Center Dan Turk blew the snap to holder Brad Johnson with 1:17 remaining to seal the 14-13 loss on Jan. 15. After kicking a 48-yarder into a slight wind in the third quarter, the first-year kicker felt he would have won the game. After all, Conway beat Carolina and Philadelphia last season on late field goals.

"You never want to see the season end like that," he said. "I felt confident about it."

Conway spent the offseason working on his kickoffs and long field goals. That missed opportunity often fueled the long sessions on the practice field. Conway said it made him focus even harder. However, special teams coach LeCharls McDaniel doesn't want Conway distracted by thoughts of redemption.

"We have to go forward. Let's put it out of our minds," McDaniel said. "The fans think about it. It burns inside of me, but you have to live for the moment, and the moment is now."

Conway has the rarity of being the only kicker in training camp after winning a three-way competition last summer. The Redskins might sign a veteran in coming weeks as competition or provide some rest for Conway during practices to avoid a sore leg.

"I'm going to run scared," Conway said. "Maybe they're giving me a break, but I can't get comfortable."

Conway converted 22 of 32 field goals and 49 of 50 extra points for 115 points. He converted 19 of 23 field goals inside 50 yards, but only 3 of 9 from 50 yards or more. Conway still needs to lengthen his kickoffs and improve his long-range accuracy, but McDaniel said added distance is more mental than physical.

"If Brett kicks every kick like he kicks the ball between 20 and 30 yards, he has a strong enough leg," McDaniel said.

Conway rides a Harley-Davidson "Fat Boy" motorcycle through the countryside during his off days to relieve stress.

"I got into them a couple years ago," he said. "Once you start it, you get more and more excited about it. You get to see different parts of the country. It's different than riding in a car. It calms me down. I have a tension-filled job and it's my way of escaping."

Snapping blues

An erratic start by snapper Joe Zelenka has guard Jay Leeuwenburg readying as a replacement. Zelenka's snaps have been both high and low.

"I'm not worried," coach Norv Turner said. "If he doesn't settle down and be more consistent over the next [week] then I'll start to be concerned."

Champ as a returner, too?

Cornerback Deion Sanders will handle the majority of punt returns while receiver James Thrash will be used occasionally. However, a strong start by cornerback Champ Bailey now has Turner willing to also use him during the preseason.

Bailey has shown outstanding agility during his opening move, but bobbled too many punts during training camp last year. However, he improved greatly last week to earn a chance.

"He's catching the ball real well," Turner said. "We'll give him a shot with it."

Said Bailey: "I feel real comfortable catching the ball, but it's a lot different with 11 guys coming at you."

New gigs for former execs

Two former Redskins front-office executives have recently started their own businesses.

David Cope, the team's former executive vice president, has started the Bethesda, Md.-based Gilco Sports & Entertainment Marketing. Cope also formerly worked in similar roles for the Baltimore Orioles, Baltimore Ravens and Washington Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of the Washington Wizards and formerly of the Capitals.

Cope played a key role in the naming rights deals for MCI Center, PSINet Stadium and FedEx Field, and will be working on similar deals in the new business.

Dan Cohen, formerly the Redskins' vice president of sales, has started www.PrimeShot.com, a District of Columbia-based professional event photography business. Cohen also once worked for Washington Sports & Entertainment, primarily handling corporate seat sales.

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