- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 15, 2001

Washington Redskins punt returner Eric Metcalf is no one-play wonder. Six weeks after scoring an 89-yard touchdown on his first return, Metcalf is the NFL's second-ranked returner.
Metcalf's 14.0-yard average on 23 returns is only slightly behind the 14.6-yard average of Dallas' Reggie Swinton and ties him with New England's Troy Brown as Washington prepares for tomorrow's game against Philadelphia at FedEx Field. It is a remarkable achievement that Metcalf joined Washington in the seventh game to revitalize the return game after sitting out last season and being released by Oakland in training camp this preseason.
"It is good to be productive in a situation where I came in late," he said. "I thought coming in I could probably average 10 yards, which is pretty good."
The 89-yarder wasn't Metcalf's only big play. He also gained 34 yards against Dallas on Dec. 2 and 30 yards against Philadelphia on Nov. 25. The latter set up a 43-yard field goal for a 10-0 second-quarter lead in the 13-3 victory. Still, that NFL-record 12th career touchdown return since tied by Philadelphia returner Brian Mitchell made a big first impression.
"I just couldn't believe it happened like that," he said. "I was just trying to get some positive yards."
The son of former St. Louis Cardinals and Redskins returner Terry Metcalf, Eric was an All-Met at O'Connell High School in Arlington and attended Redskins games while living next door to former receiver Art Monk. Metcalf has surpassed his father's standout career with more than four miles of returns (7,305 yards). He reached three Pro Bowls during an 11-year career after being taken in the first round by Cleveland in 1989.
However, Metcalf wasn't retained in 2000 by Carolina and was judged too old by many other teams. Metcalf thought his career was over when he was released by Oakland, but Washington signed him Oct. 24 after getting a total of 5 yards in six games from Michael Bates and Kevin Lockett.
"He brings an element of quickness and playmaking ability that you can always use," coach Marty Schottenheimer said.
Now the Redskins are using Metcalf as a third receiver; he has three catches for 18 yards over the past two games. Metcalf's role will increase as the Redskins try to spread out their passing game over the final four games.
Certainly, Metcalf is a proven receiver with 540 catches for 5,551 yards. He has eight seasons of at least 40 catches, including 104 for 1,189 yards in 1995 for Atlanta, but it's an unexpected role with Washington.
"It's just fun getting those opportunities," Metcalf said. "When I'm getting those little bones to do something, I'm enjoying it."
But after missing nearly 11/2 seasons, Metcalf, 31, knows this could be his final year.
"I don't know if anybody will contact me, but I've proven this year that I can play," he said. "I'm enjoying it a lot more than the last year I played. I feel rejuvenated. I've had a great opportunity to come out here."
Green wavers on retirement
Cornerback Darrell Green isn't done considering a possible return next year instead of retiring. Green told John Thompson of WTEM radio that recent public support has him reconsidering.
"The community has a say," Green said. "That doesn't mean I'm going to come back, but that's the only thing that got me thinking about it."
Green claimed coach Marty Schottenheimer tried to send him to "the back of the bus" during training camp behind Donovan Greer, who was later injured,
"[Schottenheimer] wasn't going to build his life with Darrell Green, and I'm not mad at him for that," Green said. "I would never be a Marty guy. I'm too old. He'll never be my guy. We'll try to win together as Redskins."
Schottenheimer said he's willing to discuss Green's return after the season.
Extra points
Fullback Donnell Bennett (ankle) is probable against Philadelphia, guard Matt Campbell (knee) is doubtful and tight end Stephen Alexander (ankle) is out. Receiver Michael Westbrook was rested to avoid aggravating his knee but will start. …
U.S. Marines will collect new toys for local youths before the game at stadium gates.

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