- The Washington Times - Monday, August 27, 2001

The Washington Redskins enter the final week of the preseason with five positions in the starting lineup unresolved.

David Brant will start at guard against the New England Patriots on Thursday as the Redskins seek to solidify their lineup at that position as well as middle linebacker, fullback, receiver and cornerback.

Coach Marty Schottenheimer said he woke up at 5:30 yesterday morning, thinking about reworking the offensive line.

The move with Brant underscores the ongoing problems at guard. The Redskins signed guard Dave Szott on Aug. 20 to fill the left side. But several players failed to take the job vacated by Pro Bowl guard Tre Johnson, who was released in February because of salary cap problems, on the right. Matt Campbell, who probably will substitute for injured left tackle Chris Samuels against New England, still could play right guard. However, Schottenheimer wants to look at Brant when starters play the first half.

"David Brant believes he belongs in there playing," Schottenheimer said. "Just the way he conducts himself."

Free safety David Terrell seems to have earned a spot in the starting lineup for the regular-season opener at San Diego on Sept. 9, but the Redskins remain undecided on who will start at middle linebacker, fullback, receiver and cornerback.

Decisions on middle linebackers Kevin Mitchell and Robert Jones, fullbacks Bryan Johnson and Donnell Bennett and receivers Rod Gardner and Kevin Lockett won't come until next week. Gardner, the first-round pick, seems to have an edge over Lockett and worked more with the starters over the past week. Mitchell and Bennett also appear to be the front-runners.

Schottenheimer said his first seasons with Cleveland (1984) and Kansas City (1989) also had multiple competitions that went late into the preseason.

"I'd like to be able [to say who's starting by] the week of the opener, but I can't say that with a certainty," he said. "In the perfect world you have everybody in place, but we have a new system trying to integrate all these different people into these roles."

Terrell may be challenged by recently signed safety Keith Lyle, but Schottenheimer said he would be comfortable starting Terrell against San Diego. Terrell remains ahead of several challengers even though he has never started in his career.

"Is David where he needs to be? I'm not sure, but I'm very pleased," Schottenheimer said. "There's a lot of things he's seeing for the very first time. He hasn't seen a flea flicker yet. He got fooled dead down the middle on a play action pass [against Cleveland on Friday], but he said that will never happen again, so it will be interesting to see."

Meanwhile, the Redskins released linebacker Cornelius Anthony, running back Robert Arnaud, tight ends Steve Brominiski and Ivan Mercer, punter Dan Frantz, receiver Latef Grim, offensive tackles Tam Hopkins and Trey Langley, returner Winston October and defensive tackle Eric Stevenson. Arnaud's release nullified a trade with New Orleans for a conditional seventh-rounder if he made the team.

The team must release five more players by tomorrow and another 14 by Sunday. Oddly, the released players worked out shortly before the cuts in case of an injury to another player.

"I've always been honest with players," Schottenheimer said. "Players that I didn't believe had the ability to play in the league I've told them that. I could be wrong. I don't bat 1,000 percent, but you have to be honest with them. But if there's a player that has a chance to make it somewhere else I encourage them to pursue that dream as well."

Cornerback Champ Bailey (bruised foot), defensive tackle Bruce Smith (shoulder) and Samuels (back) appear to be doubtful for the game against New England. That trio as well as safety Jason Kaiser (abdominal) missed practice yesterday. But Bailey said he's optimistic that he will play at New England, where he scored on an interception in his 1999 preseason debut. However, Bailey probably won't play so that Schottenheimer can better evaluate Darrell Green, Donovan Greer and Fred Smoot for the opposite corner.

"Champ's played plenty in the preseason, and it wouldn't concern me if he didn't play in this ballgame," Schottenheimer said. "We need to look at these corners so we can make some decisions."

Quarterback Jeff George suffered minor soreness on Saturday after making his preseason debut in Washington's 27-25 victory over Cleveland. However, he practiced yesterday without any problems. Schottenheimer was not concerned by George's sketchy performance 3-for-7 for 17 yards against the Browns, which included two sacks.

"A couple of times we got soft [protection] in the pocket on one side and you'd like Jeff to slide up in the pocket, but he started to move out of the pocket," Schottenheimer said. "That's just a result of inactivity. He's just trying to make a play."

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