- The Washington Times - Friday, August 24, 2001

The Washington Redskins may learn tonight whether passing or running is more important to their new West Coast offense.
Quarterback Jeff George will make his preseason debut against the Cleveland Browns at FedEx Field. The Redskins have sorely missed George in an 0-2 preseason start that included only one touchdown run. Interceptions of quarterbacks Todd Husak and Sage Rosenfels led to 17 points in the 27-6 loss to Atlanta on Aug. 17.
However, running back Stephen Davis (sprained toes) and left offensive tackle Chris Samuels (sprained back) are out, leaving the Redskins' running game suspect against the Browns' strong front seven. Running back Ki-Jana Carter and guard Matt Campbell will replace Davis and Samuels, respectively.
If the Redskins are to awaken offensively, George must produce despite playing only the opening 12 to 15 snaps after returning from shoulder tendinitis that sidelined him for most of training camp.
Although his arm strength hasn't completely returned, George threw 30-yarders with increasing velocity during two recent workouts. A sharp outing by George would alleviate growing pessimism about the offense, which has been outscored 47-6 in two losses.
"All the guys have been through [preseason games], but it's my first time. The butterflies will be going in a good way," George said. "You just want to show some improvement. You have to go out there relaxed and try to understand what we're trying to do. You don't put added pressure [on yourself]."
Said Schottenheimer: "[We'll] try to get a sense of Jeff's timing and rhythm. This is more about getting him an opportunity to get in the groove than what the offense might do."
Despite Davis' absence, Schottenheimer won't be tempted to pass more to test George's readiness. The Redskins want to be a run-first offense, so they'll continue moving the ball inside to test the interior line with guard Dave Szott starting after signing Monday. Davis has gained only 35 yards on 12 carries in two games, but Carter has been one of the preseason surprises. He has clinched the backup role after a 38-yard touchdown run against Atlanta.
Quarterback Tony Banks will play the second quarter and perhaps some of the third before Rosenfels finishes. That leaves Husak appearing vulnerable when the team makes its final roster cuts Sept. 2.
"I need information on where Jeff is. I need information on where Banks will be," Schottenheimer said. "I think I know with Todd where exactly he is right now."
The third preseason game is traditionally the longest effort for starters, who often play three quarters. Instead, the offense's truer test will come against the New England Patriots on Aug. 30 when Davis returns, though Samuels may miss another week. That would prevent the offense from playing together before the regular-season opener on Sept. 9 at San Diego.
It's also one last chance for many reserves to impress coaches before Tuesday's 18-man cutdown cutdown to 65 players. The team will have at least 24 new players, many of whom will gain jobs through special teams play. After two blocked kicks and a punt return allowed for a touchdown, Schottenheimer is emphatic about improving special teams. Receivers Justin Skaggs and Willie Spencer, running back Stanley Stephens, tight end Ivan Mercer, strong safety Martavius Houston and free safety Ifeanyi Ohalete are among those on the bubble who need a big effort to remain.
"We've had two major errors in two weeks. We have addressed those," Schottenheimer said. "We will not stand idly by and let it go on like that. We'll coach it up or change [players]."
Cornerback Donovan Greer will start over Darrell Green, but Schottenheimer said it's more of a chance to evaluate Greer with the starters than a depth-chart change.
Notes Schottenheimer told 500 fans at the 40th Welcome Home Luncheon in Reston that the team's goal of winning the Super Bowl is realistic.
"We set one standard, one goal, and we're in the process of pursuing that goal to become champions of the National Football League and to do it this year," he said. "It's very easy to recognize in the National Football League today you can come from nowhere to somewhere to the championship in a 12-month period of time… . Why not do it now?"
Tight end Stephen Alexander was honored by the Redskins Alumni Association as the 2000 Offensive Player of the Year, and end Marco Coleman was named the top defensive player.


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