- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 19, 2001

Washington Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer yesterday put the odds at 50 percent of starting quarterback Jeff George returning for Friday's home preseason game against the Cleveland Browns. The coach also said newly acquired backup Tony Banks probably will see limited action.

Schottenheimer's comments came on a conference call following Friday night's 27-6 loss to the Atlanta Falcons at FedEx Field in which young quarterbacks Todd Husak and Sage Rosenfels combined for three interceptions. Washington (0-2) has been outscored 47-6 in the preseason.

George threw again yesterday while in rehabilitation of his shoulder tendinitis and "did quite well," according to Schottenheimer.

"I think he'd like to [practice this week]," Schottenheimer said. "My target date [for George's return] is Monday, because that's like a Wednesday in a regular game week."

Banks, released as the Dallas Cowboys starting quarterback on Tuesday, will practice with the Redskins for the first time this afternoon, when Washington begins its final five days of training camp in Carlisle, Pa.

"The key is how quickly he can assimilate the information," Schottenheimer said. "Tony will have to take this information and translate it into a language he can understand. I expect him to play some this week, albeit with [a] limited [playbook]."

Among players injured Friday, tackle Chris Samuels (strained back muscle) and running back Stephen Davis (sprained toes) will miss practice today, though neither injury is considered serious.

Also out today will be George and defensive end Bruce Smith (shoulder). Schottenheimer will evaluate guard Ben Coleman (knee) and defensive tackle Delbert Cowsette (thumb) to see if they are ready to return. The coach would like to see Coleman, who signed a hefty one-year, $1.1 million contract this offseason, practice soon because he has missed two weeks of work.

Derrick Fletcher showed progress Friday as the starting right guard, the position for which Coleman would be competing. The massive (6-foot-6, 350 pounds) Fletcher has improved the quickness with which he reacts to the snap, though it remains Schottenheimer's biggest concern.

Husak, who started again despite a strained rib muscle, has completed seven of 16 passes for 59 yards with two interceptions this preseason. On Friday, his pick came on a badly thrown ball intended for fullback Donnell Bennett that instead went right into the hands of cornerback Ray Buchanan. It had started to rain before the play, but Husak took responsibility for the throw after the game.

Schottenheimer thinks Husak "did a pretty good job" Friday, other than the interception, and said the second-year player remains in competition for the backup job behind George despite Banks' signing. The coach added that Husak's rib injury was no worse following the game.

Rosenfels added two interceptions Friday to help raise Washington's preseason turnover total to six, though Schottenheimer showed little concern about that statistic.

"[The stat is] solely a reflection of two quarterbacks who have yet to start an NFL game," Schottenheimer said. "And quite frankly, the other part of it is a lack of familiarity between the receivers and the quarterbacks."

In Schottenheimer's mind, the biggest disappointment Friday was the two blocked kicks on a 47-yard field goal attempt and an extra point. The coach reiterated that he will release the guilty player or players perhaps this week if a review of the game tape indicates such a move is warranted. The coach had not gone through the special teams tape when the conference call was conducted.

Cornerback Donovan Greer likely will start against the Browns after Schottenheimer made a late switch back to Darrell Green on Friday. Greer was supposed to start against Atlanta as part of a planned rotation but Schottenheimer reconsidered, wanting to announce Green as a first-stringer in the pregame introductions.

A decision on the starting spot opposite Champ Bailey will not come at the earliest until just before the final preseason game Aug. 30 at New England. Rookie Fred Smoot also is competing for the starting job.

Schottenheimer had no comment on free safety David Terrell because he hadn't seen the tape of the defense. The coach did say he has "a sense of steady improvement" at the position. Schottenheimer acknowledged that he might bring in a free agent or two this week but gave no indication if they might be unemployed safeties Keith Lyle and Darren Perry (the latter of whom already has worked out).

Apparently moving closer to a workout is former Kansas City Chiefs receiver/returner Tamarick Vanover, who pleaded guilty to one count of aiding the sale of a stolen vehicle. He has served two months of confinement and two more months of home detention and has been fined $10,000.

Schottenheimer recently had another conversation with Vanover, 27, and has indicated to the player that he can visit the team now that the NFL has ruled him eligible to sign a contract without fear of suspension. The coach emphasized that any visit by Vanover would have nothing to do with the performance of current returner Michael Bates.


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