- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 16, 2001

CB Greer gets nod over Green vs. Falcons

CARLISLE, Pa. Despite a rough performance in Sunday's preseason opener, Washington Redskins cornerback Donovan Greer will start ahead of Darrell Green tomorrow night against the Atlanta Falcons.
The move is part of a designed rotation of starters, not a signal of any poor play by Green or sharpness by Greer. Also moving into the starting lineup is guard Derrick Fletcher, who replaces right-side starter Mookie Moore in a similarly planned switch.
Green likely would be first string if the team had to announce a lineup, coach Marty Schottenheimer said yesterday. But Schottenheimer wants to evaluate Greer, who was beaten several times Sunday, including on a 29-yard touchdown by Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Derrick Mayes.
Greer, 26, is battling Green, 41, and rookie Fred Smoot, 22, to start opposite Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey. Green has started a club-record 250 times, though just two of those came last season when the future Hall of Fame selection stepped aside to make room for another all-time great in Deion Sanders.
Quickly catching up has been Smoot, whom Schottenheimer said will see action against the Falcons' first-string receivers. Smoot defensed three passes Sunday and hit Chiefs quarterback Todd Collins on a third-quarter blitz. Yesterday he displayed more tight coverage in practice.
"I want to be the best, and I want to play against the best," the ever-confident Smoot said. "I feel with my talent and what I'm learning from Darrell and Champ, it won't be long."
That means, in Smoot's mind, starting the Sept. 9 opener.
"I think I can win the starting job," Smoot said. "If I keep playing how I'm playing, and show them I'm a grown man, and come in the game like [Los Angeles Lakers phenom] Kobe [Bryant] did, I'll play early."
But Schottenheimer wouldn't endorse that idea wholeheartedly.
"[Smoot starting in the preseason] would depend on how he does," Schottenheimer said. "He's still in the three-way competition."
Smoot has a sizable adjustment to make after playing mostly bump-and-run coverage at Mississippi State. Here he generally is 10 yards off the line of scrimmage, per Schottenheimer's defensive scheme deeper than the 7-yard cushion used by most NFL defenses.
"I feel comfortable sitting at 10 because of my speed," Smoot said. "Basically, you get to see the quarterback's drop. That's everything. That helps you eliminate a lot of routes. Three-step [drop]? It's going to be short, it's going to be quick, it's going to be now. Five-step? Hey, I've got a little range. I know I don't have to break down."
In terms of technique, Redskins coaches are working with Smoot to play with his feet closer together.
"I'm one of the taller corners, so I like to keep my feet apart, play wide," Smoot said. "It slows my break down. Right now I'm keeping my feet together, and I'm breaking quicker."

Down is up

Linebacker LaVar Arrington got his most extensive reps to date as a down lineman during the afternoon practice, playing end in nickel situations.
He tired as the drill progressed but highlighted it by skirting around tackle Jon Jansen on one play and stripping the ball from quarterback Sage Rosenfels. Arrington, the draft's second overall pick last season, then ran into the end zone, threw the ball in the air and got an extended ovation from the crowd.
"He's got quickness that can cause problems for a pass-protecting unit, and he's so competitive," Schottenheimer said.
Arrington played some end at Penn State but always stood. Redskins coaches originally planned to use him as a third-down end last season, but that idea was all but scrapped when he didn't develop as quickly as they hoped. He did not see any time at end during his limited snaps Sunday at Kansas City.
The battle between Arrington and Jansen grew heated at times. The pair grasped each other's jerseys for about 15 seconds after the final play ended, letting go grudgingly. Arrington called it "healthy competition."

Extra points

Undrafted rookie David Brandt is the second-string left guard after starting at center for Michigan. The Redskins considered selecting Brandt in the sixth round but gambled that he would be available afterward. Cory Raymer and Mark Fischer are the top centers but Brandt appears likely to make the club… .
Returner Michael Bates worked at running back after practicing exclusively at receiver. Said Schottenheimer: "He has convinced me that he can go out and play wide receiver. Now I want to see if he can do the running back [duties]. I want to see what type of versatility might be available to us."
Bates and running back Kenny Watson are the top kickoff return tandem, while Bates "probably has got the edge" as the No. 1 punt returner, Schottenheimer said. However, Bates is talented at blocking on punt returns, leading the Redskins to evaluate others. Smoot, for example, is likely to return a punt or two during the preseason… .
Injured guard Ben Coleman (knee) was scheduled to receive a shot to relieve some pain… . Safety Eric Whitfield is on the verge of leaving the team following a serious shoulder injury. The club is attempting to resolve his status… .
The Redskins signed tight end Steve Brominski and released undrafted rookie tight end John Sigmund.

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