- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 26, 2001

Enough of this golf and baseball stuff. The Redskins open training camp Sunday in Carlisle, Pa. It's time to talk a little football.

And there's much to talk about this year with the Redskins. They've got a new coach, a new starting quarterback, two new offensive guards, some new receivers, a new right defensive tackle, a new middle linebacker, a new free safety and, well, you get the idea. Since Marty Schottenheimer was handed the keys to the kingdom in January, he has shaken up, for better or worse, just about every area of the team.

Anyway, without further ado, here are some passing thoughts about the Redskins as they prepare for their first pushups:

• Michael Bates could turn out to be the club's best offseason addition. A lot depends, though, on the retooled return teams. The man ain't going anywhere without a few blocks.

• The Redskins still don't have a credible backup for Stephen Davis unless you're a big Robert Arnaud fan. Before the season is over, in fact, they might find themselves longing for Skip Hicks (hard as that is to believe).

• Don't pay any attention to the comments coming out of camp about how Schottenheimer's disciplined, all-business approach is Just What the Team Needs. Last December, you may recall, people were saying that Terry Robiskie's motivational skills were just what the team needed and we all know what happened to Terry. Players are just like any other employees. They want to get on the boss' good side (and will make him out to be the second coming of Vince Lombardi if that's what it takes).

• Brett Conway might be an improvement over the previous kicker, but I question whether he's the long-term answer.

• Quick, name the Redskins' fullback, free safety and punter.

Answer: Donnell Bennett, David Terrell and Bryan Barker (for now).

• If Jeff George goes down, is Schottenheimer really going to hand the offense over to Todd Husak, a second-year man who has thrown a grand total of two NFL passes? Nothing against Husak, but that's taking a heck of a chance. Marty might have a change of heart after the Chargers, provided with inside information by one Norval Turner, knock George on his wallet a time or 10 in the season opener.

• In fact, I look at the Redskins roster, and I think: This is a decent team as long as nobody gets hurt. But what team goes through an entire NFL season without getting players hurt? What team goes through the entire preseason without getting players hurt?

• I can't wait to see how veterans like Bruce Smith respond to a rigorous Schottenheimer-style camp.

• A year ago the top four receivers on the Redskins' depth chart were Michael Westbrook (coming off an 1,100-yard season), Albert Connell (coming off an 1,100-yard season), Irving Fryar and James Thrash. This year they're Westbrook (coming off a torn ACL), rookies Rod Gardner and Darnerien McCants and free agent pickup Kevin Lockett. Notice any difference?

• That's why I'm convinced that by the end of September, fans will be wondering what the heck the new coach was thinking when he got rid of Larry Centers.

• Nice of the Redskins not to assign Deion Sanders' No. 21 to anybody (yet), isn't it?

• Players you won't even know are gone because you hardly knew they were here: Adrian Murrell, Tommy Barnhardt, Andre Reed, Tyronne Drakeford, Greg Jones.

• You've gotta love the name of this offensive guard the Redskins signed: Brad Harms. It ranks right up there with Tuffy Maul (Los Angeles Buccaneers, 1926), Glen Spears (Kansas City Cowboys, 1926), Tom Wham (Chicago Cardinals, 1949-51) and Derrick Hatchett (Colts/Oilers, 1980-83).

(The name of one of the strong safeties, Houston Martavius, is also interesting. I mean, when he makes a mistake, does the secondary coach say, "Houston, we have a problem"?)

• Win, lose or draw this season, at least we'll have Champ Bailey to watch.

• And lastly, Dan Snyder and I finally agree on something: Carlisle is where the Redskins belong this time of year. There's something about holding a football training camp in the same town as the U.S. Army War College that just seems … right.

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