- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 21, 2001

Szott the low man on offensive line

Dave Szott stands like a sumo wrestler. With his butt below his knees when readying for the snap, the Washington Redskins guard looks more ready to play leapfrog than football.

At 285 pounds, Szott is 15 to 30 pounds lighter than some guards. That has forced him to go lower for better leverage. Still, the stance received some stares from his new teammates.

"Young guys are making fun of me," Szott said. "I'm not monstrous, I've always had to play with leverage. I've just gotten lower and lower. When I'm finally sitting on the ground is the time I'll walk away."

The low stance lets Szott play both left and right guard. Since he doesn't put much pressure on his hand for balance, he's comfortable using either.

It's just a good thing Szott isn't a center. There isn't enough room for the ball to get through his legs. Quarterbacks would have back problems bending over to reach him.

Bring it on

The dog days of training camp turned into dog fights. Receiver Rod Gardner and cornerback Greg Walls locked in the biggest bout of camp that needed several teammates and coaches to break up.

The two were in passing drills when skirmishing. Cornerback Darrell Green finally pulled Walls away. Receivers coach Richard Mann then ordered Walls to the sidelines. Walls threw Gardner's helmet several yards.

"We just got a little physical, that's it," Gardner said. "He hit me in the back one time, one-on-one, when it wasn't necessary, so I just had to let him know how I felt about it. Once that was over, it was cool. We just leave it on the field."

Tight end Stephen Alexander and linebacker Antonio Pierce didn't throw as many blows, but there was plenty of jawing when they hooked up during an afternoon drill. It took several players to pry them loose, too.

Looks like a few players are tired of camp.

Watkins winging it

Quarterback Mike Watkins is the most improbable player to make the team as the No. 5 passer. However, Watkins delivered his strongest practice of camp, completing five deep balls during the two sessions.

Coach Marty Schottenheimer conceded Watkins won't make the roster come the Aug. 28 and Sept. 2 cutdowns. A season in NFL Europe could make the difference, though, for next year.

"He just needs to play," Schottenheimer said. "I don't think we can afford to be the team that gives him the opportunity to play, but he has skills."

It's a snap

Both practices were sloppy with more than a dozen offsides penalties called. Marty Schottenheimer said seven offsides calls in the first two preseason games prompted increased emphasis on hard counts during drills.

"That's seven errors before the ball snaps," he said. "We've not done enough work on the hard counts in practice so we're … getting the hard count going so the players get a sense of timing."

But who's counting?

Marty Schottenheimer downplayed the team's 0-2 preseason start, saying it's quickly forgotten come September.

"You have to establish confidence as you play regular season games not withstanding what happened in the preseason because everybody knows it's different," he said. "If you go 4-0 [in the preseason] you may have some sense, 'Boy, we're really good, really good.' Then you go out and don't play well and lose and all of a sudden it changes. Conversely, you can go 0-4 in the preseason like the [New York] Giants did last year and go to the Super Bowl."

Extra points

There are lots of autograph seekers, but linebacker Shawn Barber inked one on the run during practice. After running out of bounds on a play, Barber grabbed a reporter's pen and notebook, dashed off a quick signature and headed back to the field before it was dry… . Quarterback Jeff George wasn't completely idle, pushing safety Sam Shade out of bounds after an interception… . Cornerback Champ Bailey grabbed three interceptions.

Quick hits

• Today's practices: 9 a.m., 3:15 p.m.

• Weather: 82 degrees, sunny.

• Injuries: DE Bruce Smith (shoulder) is out against Cleveland on Friday. QB Jeff George (shoulder) threw lightly yesterday. RB Stephen Davis (toes), OT Chris Samuels (back), LB Anthony Sessions (shoulder) and OT Ross Tucker (finger) missed practice. WR Michael Westbrook (groin) was limited and DT Jerry DeLoach left the afternoon workout with a dislocated finger.

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