- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 25, 2001

Jeff George's long-anticipated 2001 debut as Washington's starting quarterback wasn't worth the wait.The 10-year veteran performed no better than Todd Husak and Sage Rosenfels had the previous two weeks as the Redskins played the Cleveland Browns last night at FedEx Field in Landover. The game did not end in time for this edition.
George, who was sidelined for all but one day from Aug. 1 through Aug. 20 because of tendinitis in his right shoulder, completed three of seven passes for just 17 yards and was sacked once during his three series and left the game with Washington trailing 7-0.
The 33-year-old George, a starter for most of his career with Indianapolis, Atlanta, Oakland and Minnesota before backing up the departed Brad Johnson most of last season in Washington, was off target on his first toss to halfback Ki-Jana Carter and then overthrew rookie receiver Rod Gardner on third down.
George connected with tight end Stephen Alexander on his first throw of his second series, but he was a tad late on a deep ball for Gardner, giving Cleveland cornerback Daylon McCutcheon time to get back and break up the third-down pass in the end zone.
When the Redskins got the ball back after Tim Couch's 15-yard touchdown pass to Rickey Dudley, George connected on his next two attempts. But the one to Carter gained no yards, and the 12-yard toss to Stephen Alexander came against a soft zone on third-and-17. George's fourth and final series ended with an incompletion intended for wideout Michael Westbrook and a sack by defensive tackle Tyrone Rogers.
Backup quarterback Tony Banks wasn't any better at the start of his Redskins debut. Banks, signed off waivers from Dallas last week, was sacked by Rogers at the end of his first series and failed to generate a first down on his second possession. But Banks caught fire on Washington's last drive of the first half, completing all five of his passes for 57 yards, including the 2-yard touchdown toss to fullback Donnell Bennett with 1:07 remaining.
While George and Banks were starting out, receiver Kevin Lockett and Bennett, two of the four Redskins who previously played for Washington coach Marty Schottenheimer in Kansas City, were replaced in the lineup last night by top draft pick Gardner and second-year man Bryan Johnson, respectively. Bennett gained 11 yards on his first carry to get Washington out of a hole on its 2-yard line. Lockett made a diving grab of a 23-yard pass from Banks on the final series of the half, three plays before Bennett's touchdown.
Banks also finished off an 80-yard scoring drive late in the third quarter with a 4-yard scoring pass to backup tight end Walter Rasby.
Tre's return
The only Washington offensive lineman to make the Pro Bowl in the past decade was on hand, but not in a Redskins uniform.
"If my knee feels good, I'll play a few snaps," said Browns guard Tre Johnson, who returned to practice two weeks ago after beginning training camp on the physically unable to perform list. "But my goal is to be ready for Seattle [the Sept. 9 season opener]."
Johnson signed a one-year deal with the Browns in May, three months after being let go by the Redskins following seven injury-plagued seasons.
"I just wish that I had been able to do more and that we would have done more as a team for the fans and the organization during my seven years in Washington," said Johnson, who was caught holding defensive tackle Jerry DeLoach soon after he entered the game in the second quarter. "We should have made the playoffs another three times [1996, 1997 and 2000]. If I hadn't hurt my knee [last Oct. 1 against Tampa Bay], I think I would have made a difference, especially in the division games we lost late in the year.
"I love Washington. I just built a home there [in Mitchellville]. But this is a business. At the Pro Bowl [after the 1999 season], my agent [Greg Ray] told me, 'You know, you're really going to have to [play great] this year or you might not be back because of the Redskins' salary cap situation.' So I got in the best shape of my career and then I hurt my knee. Right then I pretty much knew that I wasn't going to be back."
As much as Johnson liked Washington, he said Cleveland is better in some ways.
"I only signed a one-year deal, but I'm not looking at this as an audition for the NFL to show them that my knee is healthy," said Johnson, who turns 30 on Thursday. "I'm looking at this as an audition for the Browns. This is the best organization in football. You can't buy class. This is the first time I feel like I'm really in the NFL. They treat you so well, you hate to lose and let [owner Al Lerner], [team president] Carmen Policy and coach [Butch] Davis down. I know the team didn't do well the last couple of years [5-27], but that's OK. I hope people expect us to be 3-13 and then we can surprise everybody."
Sellers mouths off
If Johnson doesn't bear any grudges toward the Redskins, that's not the case with fullback Mike Sellers who came to Cleveland this season after spending three years in Washington. The Redskins declined to match the Browns' offer in March.
"[Redskins owner Dan] Snyder made it very uncomfortable," said Sellers, whose 19-yard catch helped set up Cleveland's first touchdown last night and whose block on LaVar Arrington sprung Quincy Morgan for the second touchdown that made it 14-7 at halftime. "It wasn't a happy atmosphere. You would come to work and hear that he fired people. It was like, 'Who's going to be next?' It just put a lot of strain on Norv [Turner] knowing the owner is that hands on and couldn't wait until Monday [to talk to him] privately. I'm anxious to let those people know they shouldn't have let me go."
Johnson and Sellers aren't the only Browns with Washington connections. Long snapper Ryan Kuehl is a Potomac native and Virginia graduate who played for the Redskins in 1996 and 1997. Receivers coach Terry Robiskie filled that role for the Redskins from 1994 until becoming interim coach last December. And Browns defensive coordinator Foge Fazio coached Washington's linebackers last year.
Extra points
Redskins cornerback Donovan Greer left the game in the second quarter after suffering a mild concussion in a collision with teammate Antonio Pierce… .
The Redskins signed linebacker Donny Green and receiver Derek Dorris off waivers and cut receiver Willie Spencer and cornerback Greg Walls. Green, who played at Virginia, had been in camp with Buffalo. Dorris, who starred at Tennessee Tech, had been with New Orleans. Neither was in uniform last night… .
The Browns hadn't played in Washington since Aug. 9, 1993. The Redskins won 41-12 in coach Richie Petitbon's preseason debut, but they lost Pro Bowl offensive tackle Jim Lachey to a season-ending knee injury. That was a harbinger as Washington crashed from 10-6 to 4-12, costing Petitbon his job and prompting then-owner Jack Kent Cooke to hire Norv Turner.


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