- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 30, 2001

At a time when most teams are fine-tuning for the start of the regular season, the Washington Redskins may face an overhaul after tonight's preseason finale at New England.
Depending on performances tonight, the offensive line may change both guards; Week 1 starters at cornerback and middle linebacker also are uncertain. And quarterback Jeff George seeks a more definitive comeback from shoulder tendinitis.
Just 10 days from the regular-season opener against the Chargers in San Diego, the Redskins still haven't played their expected starting lineups on offense or defense. Cornerback Champ Bailey (bruised foot), defensive tackle Bruce Smith (sprained shoulder) and offensive tackle Chris Samuels (sprained back) won't play against the Patriots.
The Redskins (1-2) didn't even prepare a game plan for the Patriots (2-1) in a contest traditionally geared toward preventing injuries to starters and giving fringe players one last look before Sunday's final roster cutdown. Starters will depart in the second quarter.
"A lot of guys are just wanting to get in there, play well and get out," George said.
Said coach Marty Schottenheimer: "This is a chance to see guys play within themselves because there is no game plan in for New England."
Instead, Schottenheimer will spend postgame film sessions determining starters at four positions.
David Brandt has been starting at right guard, but Ben Coleman is the probable choice at San Diego if his sore knees are ready. Middle linebackers Kevin Mitchell and Robert Jones are in a dead heat. Cornerbacks Darrell Green and Fred Smoot are a close call, too.
Left guards Dave Szott and Matt Campbell also are competing, though Campbell starts his second straight game at left tackle for Samuels tonight. Schottenheimer countered previous statements that one might move to right guard, saying yesterday he would prefer a bigger blocker at the latter position.
"[The game] may swing the ultimate decision," Schottenheimer said. "The deciding factor will be who, in looking at the broad perspective of the season, do we think gives us the best opportunity to win? Sometimes you can make decisions and feel confident and others you're not sure."
That 14 players must be released by Sunday for the final 53-man roster also has Schottenheimer reviewing film for special teamers and backups. However, the cutdown will be based on the entire preseason.
"It's an accumulation of information, not just one performance," Schottenheimer said. "We feel like virtually everybody here has a chance to make the team. I wouldn't say that at [83 players], but I would now."
George will play into the second quarter before Tony Banks relieves him. After completing only three of seven passes for 17 yards with two sacks against Cleveland in his preseason debut on Aug. 24, George said his arm has greatly improved.
"You don't think about it when you're out there throwing," he said. "I feel pretty good. I know a lot of people were concerned, but it's almost 100 percent now. Just being out on the field is a plus. You'll see more improvement this week readying for the opener."
Schottenheimer is concerned more about George developing a rhythm with receivers than with increasing his arm strength.
"I don't think there's anything wrong with his throwing form," Schottenheimer said. "It's the timing that was absent a week ago. We need to get him timed up and we're on our way."
The Redskins may also try Green at punt returner, but Michael Bates is the regular with Kevin Lockett the backup. Schottenheimer won't let Smoot attempt returns, saying the rookie has enough duties already.


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