- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 7, 2000

As far as Tre Johnson is concerned, the mud tracks are cleaned up, the cookie jar is replaced and he's no longer running with scissors.
The Washington Redskins' starting right guard returned to practice yesterday after a one-game suspension that kept him out of Sunday's 20-17 season-opening win over Carolina. In his colorful, offbeat manner of speaking, Johnson promptly compared his experience to getting grounded.
"You expect to be out there with your tribe, doing your thing, and when you're forbidden, basically you feel restricted, like you're on punishment," Johnson said. "Your mom's punishing you for acting up. So you're out a week and then you can go do your thing. You just have to wait it out and get ready to rumble this week."
Johnson returns to rumble against Detroit, which boasts both "the best front seven in the league," he said, and one of the league's loudest venues, the Silverdome.
It was the Lions with whom Johnson was scuffling when he inadvertently struck an official last January. He incurred a $50,000 fine (part of a record-setting $154,000 for 23 Redskins and Lions) and had to forfeit one paycheck, valued at just over $135,000. Last week he was not allowed to practice or attend meetings.
Johnson, 29, finally is able to put aside the eight-month worry of his suspension and begin his quest to return to the Pro Bowl, which he made as a starter for the first time last season.
"I'm glad [the suspension] is over," Johnson said. "Hopefully this can be the last conversation about it."
The Redskins' offensive line compensated well for Johnson's absence, with ninth-year veteran Jay Leeuwenburg filling in as Mark Fischer got his first NFL snaps in place of injured center Cory Raymer. Running back Stephen Davis finished with 133 yards, and the line yielded no sacks.
Nonetheless, the Redskins are eager to get back a starter and team leader.
"Tre provides us with an attitude up front a mean, nasty attitude," fullback Larry Centers said.
Not to mention an outstanding amount of physical power. Despite losing some of his strength over the past few seasons, Johnson remains one of the strongest Redskins. And his lost strength has accompanied lost weight, which in turn has allowed him to maintain stamina and avoid injuries.
Last season, in fact, was Johnson's first playing all 16 games, after being affected by foot, ankle, knee and shoulder problems during his first six seasons. The 6-foot-2 Johnson now weighs about 320 pounds, after pushing 350 several seasons ago.
"Losing weight definitely didn't hurt anything," Johnson said. "You sacrifice a little bit of your power, but you make up for it in experience."
When Johnson lost weight, he compensated by "concentrating more on techniques, being physical in spurts, and being smarter."
Part of being smarter was knowing the upside of being suspended.
"I did some things differently in this [training] camp knowing there was going to be an extra week," Johnson said. "[I did] a lot heavier lifting in camp, a lot of different things that I wouldn't have done if I was going to start against Carolina."
Nonetheless, it was difficult to sit out particularly because of the anticipation that surrounded the debut of the rebuilt Redskins.
"You want to see where you fit into things," Johnson said. "[My teammates] have already got their first game under their belts… . I'm still raw. I've just got to catch up at an accelerated pace, go in there and really [make] my mark."
None of which is expected to be a problem for the dreadlocked mammoth, fresh out of a one-week stint in his room.
"It's great to have him back," coach Norv Turner said. "Jay played well for us, but Tre gives us so much diversity with his ability to run, get outside [to the] strong- and weak-[sides], and just his force inside… . We're a lot better when Tre's in there."

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