- The Washington Times - Monday, July 30, 2001

CARLISLE, Pa. The Washington Redskins will open training camp today without their top two draft picks. First-round receiver Rod Gardner and second-round cornerback Fred Smoot failed to complete deals last night despite ongoing talks.

The Redskins appear closer to signing Gardner with overall compensation and bonus seemingly done. However, incentive and escalator clauses that are often the trickiest negotiations have delayed the deal.

Gardner probably will sign a five-year deal worth more than $7.5 million, including a $5.1 million bonus, with the final year as an option. The contract would be slightly higher than the $7.1 million deal of New York Jets receiver Santana Moss, whose 16th overall selection was one behind Gardner. Smoot's deal seemingly has several remaining obstacles, including the bonus.

Coach Marty Schottenheimer shrugged off the holdouts that have already missed the three-day rookie camp.

"My responsibility is to coach those who are here," he said. "I have no control over those who are not. We want them here, but I don't ever worry about that."

The roster includes 54 of 83 players who weren't with the team at the end of last season. Schottenheimer said the team needed to get younger and would have revamped the roster even if salary cap demands didn't force the release of top veterans like guard Tre Johnson and defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield. Indeed, the Redskins were the NFL's oldest team last season, and the 8-8 finish convinced Schottenheimer to make massive moves in his first season.

After two minicamps and a three-week summer session, Schottenheimer will focus more on fundamentals than conditioning during the team's 26-day stay. The team is installing both offense and defense schemes that has both veterans and rookies sometimes unsure of terminology.

"The focus needs to shift to fundamentals, details," Schottenheimer said. "I'm anxious to see how some of the players have matured [from offseason camps]."

But for Schottenheimer's proclaimed shift to basics, it also promises to be a physically challenging champ. After opening with meetings last night, players will practice 12 straight days with only two days offering one workout. Players don't get a day off until Aug. 13 after opening the preseason at Kansas City the previous night.

Schottenheimer schedules five straight practices in full pads before working once in lighter shells that permit less contact.

"You work hard to get better and then give them a little bit of a break," he said.

The Redskins reported to Dickinson College on a gloomy, damp afternoon, but there were plenty of banners and signs welcoming the team after a seven-year absence. The former home from 1963 to '94 hasn't greatly changed with a cluster of fans seeking autographs.

Schottenheimer switched camp after one season at Redskin Park that was considered chaotic by players. When staying at a local hotel last year, many veterans instead slept at home with bed checks rarely enforced. Schottenheimer has focused on creating team chemistry given the major roster shuffle and felt Dickinson would limit distractions.

"It's such an intensive week," he said. "They begin to rely on each other. You build teamwork to build a successful football team."

Meanwhile, the Redskins postponed workouts with four free agents until today. Running back Ki-Jana Carter, defensive ends Michael Bankston and Dorian Boose and cornerback/punt returner Darrien Gordon will try out, though the Redskins have no pressing need to sign any of them.

• Staff writer Jody Foldesy contributed to this report.

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