- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 11, 2001

These days Washington Redskins safety David Terrell can be seen yelling and jumping around during practice, calling signals and motioning to his teammates. He seems to be confident and having fun.
That wasn't the case in early June after former Pro Bowl free safety Mark Carrier was cut. The nerves of Terrell, whose one year of NFL experience came at cornerback and mostly on special teams, grew more frayed with each error.
The Redskins were looking for a veteran in the free-agent market. Terrell knew he had a chance to win the job and didn't want to mess it up.
"Every mistake that I did make, it was even bigger because I was in a spot that really was not mine," Terrell recalled this week. "I just looked at it like, 'Oh my goodness. They're going to bring in [another guy].' At first I was really concentrating on that. But now I'm really feeling comfortable, because I do know what I'm doing."
Coach Marty Schottenheimer seems pleased that he held off on free agents like Darren Perry and Keith Lyle, both of whom remain unemployed.
But for Terrell to complete his quest to win the starting free safety job on a defense that ranked fourth in the NFL last season and second against the pass he must show his progress in tomorrow night's preseason opener at Kansas City.
"Between what [defensive coordinator] Kurt [Schottenheimer] and I have talked about, [secondary coach] Jerry [Holmes] and I have talked about, we are very comfortable [with Terrell]," Marty Schottenheimer said. "He is really coming along very well. Now I'm anxious to see … when it's full-speed live."
Carrier's release came in early June after he refused to accept a salary cut. The threat of a multi-game suspension to start the season, due to a helmet-to-helmet hit in last year's finale, has kept him from signing with another team.
That Schottenheimer liked the potential of Terrell, fellow second-year pro Josh Symonette and undrafted rookie Ifeanyi Ohalete gave the coach leverage against Carrier. Schottenheimer believed one of the three might develop into a starter if given extensive preseason reps.
"If you are going to work to develop players, you have got to pave the way for them," Schottenheimer said. "If they don't get any reps, they don't get any better. So you let a guy like Mark Carrier, who's still a pretty good player, you let him go. You force yourself to find somebody else."
Terrell, 26, finally won a spot on the Redskins' roster in 2000 after being cut from training camp the previous two seasons. The experiences of being released, as well as spending 1999 on the practice squad, taught him how to study his playbook and train like a professional.
Terrell's role last season, while involving spot duty at cornerback, was primarily on special teams. He developed into a respected contributor on all units, with his specialty the key wing position on coverage teams. This season he and Michael Bates are the favorites to play the wings.
"I think special teams really broke me in, let me know that I really could play in this league," Terrell said.
But just as important was the encouragement of strong safety Sam Shade, a respected seven-year veteran.
"I saw something in him from Day 1," Shade said. "I noticed that David had a lot of talent. He might not have had as much confidence as you need to get things done at this level, but he's worked hard these past couple years."
So during offseason practices in June, when Terrell took each mistake too seriously, Shade let him know that he was good enough to be a starter.
"There's no question [Shade's encouragement helped]," Terrell said. "I think I needed to prove myself to the entire defense, because I was the question mark of the defense, I guess you could say. Hopefully I am proving myself to be a capable starter with these guys."
That appears to be the case. Schottenheimer said Terrell's fate will be decided in the first "two or three" preseason games. For now, the coach likes Terrell's ability to play in space which he first demonstrated in last year's work on special teams and his knowledge of the mental aspects of the position, which is responsible for a fair number of calls in the secondary.
Signing Perry or Lyle remains possible, but Shade believes it isn't necessary.
"We've got a deep safety roster," Shade said. "I mean, we might not have as much experience as other people around the league, but as far as ability, and guys willing to get the job done, we've got all the safeties we need right now. We don't need anybody."
If that's true, no wonder Terrell might be spotted yelling and jumping outside of practice.
"It would be lovely to start with these guys," Terrell said.

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