- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 31, 2001

The Washington Redskins hired John Schneider as the team's vice president of player personnel yesterday but left power firmly in the hands of coach Marty Schottenheimer.

Schneider will oversee the scouting system, but Schottenheimer will continue to negotiate contracts. Schneider left a similar position with the Seattle Seahawks, signing a three-year deal worth $1.05 million with the Redskins.

The hiring was first reported by The Washington Times on Wednesday.

"John Schneider is an extremely bright individual who … will take an active and integral role in helping us continue to build a championship organization," Schottenheimer said. "I've always been very involved in the personnel part of it, but I need somebody with the background that can step in because I'm going to have to devote my focus to coaching the football team."

Schneider was chosen over outgoing Green Bay Packers vice president Ken Herock. Herock is more experienced, but Schneider's familiarity with Schottenheimer seemed to make the difference. Schneider, 30, worked for Schottenheimer in Kansas City in 1998 as part of a three-year stint with the Chiefs. He also worked five years for Green Bay as assistant director of pro personnel and last year as Seattle's director of player personnel.

The scouting staff is expected to undergo a major reshuffling for the second straight year. Former personnel director Vinny Cerrato dismissed many longtime scouts in 2000 during his first season with the team. Schottenheimer fired Cerrato in January. Schottenheimer said Schneider is free to assemble his own staff, but some of the current four scouts might remain.

"When you hire somebody to do the job, you let them do the job," Schottenheimer said. "I'll have some input on who we choose. Ultimately, the decision has to be [Schneider's]."

The Redskins have some quick choices to make when veteran free agency starts at 4 p.m. tomorrow. The team is expected to release cornerback Deion Sanders, though it may not occur immediately. Schottenheimer said he doesn't expect the Redskins to be active in the opening weekend of the second surge of free agency, when teams typically cut high-priced veterans. Teams that sign players starting tomorrow can split their salary cap impact over two seasons.

"I don't see any mad dash to the finish line just because it's June 1," Schottenheimer said.

Extra points

Washington ends the preseason at New England on Aug. 30, one day earlier than expected. Washington also plays at Kansas City on Aug. 12 and plays host to the Atlanta Falcons on Aug. 17 and Cleveland Browns on Aug. 24… .

The Redskins continued their near-monthlong coaching sessions with impressive crispness during the 90-minute drill. Receiver Michael Westbrook made two standout catches, and running back Stephen Davis knocked back strength coach Dave Redding, who was holding pads during a pass protection drill. Schottenheimer said the only downside is getting rookies enough work… .

The Redskins are working rookie receiver Darrian McCants as a backup punt returner.

"It's not an art form, but it's a skill you can develop," Schottenheimer said. "It takes catch after catch after catch. You have to read the trajectory of the ball."

Vice president Pepper Rodgers returned to Redskin Park after undergoing heart bypass surgery last month.

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