- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 13, 2001

Veteran linebacker Robert Jones is set to join the Washington Redskins and perhaps round out a starting corps that includes LaVar Arrington and Shawn Barber.

The Redskins were finalizing a contract yesterday, coach Marty Schottenheimer said. Jones, 31, spent the past three seasons at starting strong-side linebacker for the Miami Dolphins after playing his first six seasons in the middle for the Dallas Cowboys (1992-95) and St. Louis Rams (1996-97).

Jones expects to return to the middle here and should compete for the starting job held by Kevin Mitchell. Jones brings, in addition to 119 starts, three Super Bowl rings from championships won in Dallas following the 1992, 1993 and 1995 seasons.

Meanwhile, the Redskins are nearing an agreement with free agent tackle Ben Coleman, another veteran starter. Coleman, 30, started 16 games for the San Diego Chargers last season and has played each offensive line position except center. He would back up Chris Samuels and Jon Jansen with the Redskins and perhaps compete to start at guard.

Despite the imminent signing of Jones, the Redskins have scheduled a workout today for free agent linebacker Pete Monty. Monty, 26, started one game last season for the New York Giants while backing up Michael Barrow.

Schottenheimer believes Mitchell, Jones and, if he is signed, Monty, all could play special teams. Schottenheimer said the pursuit of other linebackers does not reflect on the performance of Mitchell, who continues to practice with high energy.

Former Atlanta Falcons running back Byron Hanspard also is scheduled to work out today. Hanspard, 25, did not play last season after being released by the Falcons in training camp. He won the Doak Walker Award at Texas Tech in 1996 for being the nation's top running back and averaged 6.3 yards per carry for Atlanta in 1997, but he blew out his knee in a 1998 preseason game.

Schottenheimer backed off signing a free agent to replace safety Mark Carrier, who was released last week. The coach said he is impressed with young safeties David Terrell, Josh Symonette and Ifeanyi Ohalete, and said he hopes one will win the starting free safety job in training camp.

"I like what I have," Schottenheimer said. "David is making good progress, Josh is doing a good job, and Ohalete has a got a far better understanding for [the pro game] than any of us should have imagined he would."

Terrell, 25, was a special teams standout and a decent cornerback last season, his first in the NFL after being cut from Redskins training camp in 1998 and 1999. The 6-foot, 187-pound Terrell is the most athletic and experienced of the trio.

Symonette, 23, made last year's roster as an undrafted rookie but spent most of the season on the practice squad. At 5-10, 200 pounds, and with powerful tackling skills, Symonette has worked mostly at strong safety but Schottenheimer likes his quickness and is looking at him in the coverage-oriented position.

Ohalete, 22, went undrafted out of Southern California after a broken foot caused him to miss most of his senior season. He has great size (6-2, 217) and is known as a big hitter with good range. Redskins assistants Brian Schottenheimer and Hue Jackson, who were Trojans assistants last year, probably played a big role in bringing Ohalete to Washington.

"On occasion you find a guy who has a natural instinct or feel for it, and Ifeanyi is one of those guys," Marty Schottenheimer said. "The pieces all seem to fit together for him. Now [these practices are] not live … but I'm pleased with him."

The club has worked out free agent safety Darren Perry, lately of the New Orleans Saints, and has had preliminary talks with the representatives for Keith Lyle (Rams) and Scott Shields (Pittsburgh Steelers).

But Schottenheimer isn't worried about starting a youngster alongside veteran strong safety Sam Shade, noting that the 1981 San Francisco 49ers won Super Bowl XVI with three rookie starters in the secondary (Ronnie Lott, Carlton Williamson and Eric Wright).

Notes The Redskins got a scare in practice when starting tight end Stephen Alexander injured his knee and slammed his helmet to the ground in anger. The injury didn't appear serious, though, and Alexander, coming off his first Pro Bowl season, might return to practice today. He had his knee wrapped and sat out the final minutes of yesterday's practice… .

Defensive tackle Mario Monds, the Redskins' sixth-round selection in April, became the club's first draft pick to sign when he agreed to a three-year deal, according to league sources. Financial terms were not immediately known… . Cornerback Darrell Green was excused from practice.

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