Thursday, November 8, 2001

It wasn’t the Lombardi Trophy, but the golden boxing glove encased in glass in front of Washington Redskins fullback Donnell Bennett’s locker drew a crowd. There’s nothing like a knockout play to excite players.
Bennett was awarded the “golden glove” award by special teams players and coach Mike Stock for his block of a Seattle Seahawk during a kickoff return Sunday. The numbing blow earned the nicknames “Thataboy,” “Cockroach” and “Decleater” as Bennett took his opponent out of the play.
“I don’t know what [the Seahawk] was looking at, but he didn’t see Donnell,” linebacker Eddie Mason said. “It was a big hit, and all of us said, ‘That’s the hit of the week right there.’”
The trophy is awarded after victories, with safety Ifeanyi Ohalete and kick returner Michael Bates earning the previous two. Bates leveled a Seahawks returner to excite the FedEx Field crowd during the 27-14 victory Sunday. But Bennett’s job is to plow the road for running back Stephen Davis on offense, and Eric Metcalf and Bates on returns, and it was another of his jarring hits.
“It gave the team a spark. It was on our sideline. I heard guys on the side saying, ‘Good job,’” Bennett said. “Guys are going to hit you as hard as they can, so our coaches tell us to strike before someone else strikes you.”
The Redskins’ special teams have dramatically improved this season they’re first in yards allowed on kickoffs at 17.8. The mix of veterans like Bennett, Mason and Bates with young players like safety David Terrell and Ohalete has made the coverage group almost predatory.
“The key is pride. If you want to be a winning team you have to go out there and treat it like offense and defense,” Bennett said. “Football is the prey and the predator, and a lot of guys choose to be the predator.”

Free lunch
The cooler in the middle of the locker room carried a simple sign: “Elk. Take all you want.”
Elk? Sure enough. Elk sausage and sirloin filled the cooler. Guard Dave Szott bagged a 650-pound elk in New Mexico last February that produced 200 pounds of meat. He was clearing out his freezer, and brought the frozen elk to the locker room.
“It was 408 yards away,” Szott said. “It was the longest shot I’ve ever taken. He went six steps [before dropping].”
There were a lot of curious onlookers but not many takers until center Cory Raymer hauled the cooler to his truck, joking he can never have enough coolers. Szott said elk is milder tasting than deer.

Huddle talk
What do players do on the field during television timeouts? Quarterback Tony Banks reminded offensive tackle Jon Jansen of Michigan State’s 26-24 victory over Michigan on Saturday. It seems MSU alumnus Banks enjoyed needling his blocker over the in-state rivalry.
“Jon cut me off quick. He didn’t want to listen to Michigan State mumbo jumbo,” Banks said. “I’m having so much fun with the offensive line. They’re young and not really uptight. They rallied to my personality. Sometimes it’s rubbed people the wrong way, but with this group they responded great.”

Health watch
Defensive end Bruce Smith and receiver Michael Westbrook watched practice to rest sore knees. Both are expected to play at Denver on Nov. 18.
Tight end Stephen Alexander worked on conditioning drills and also expects to play against the Broncos after missing three games with a high ankle sprain. Schottenheimer said the Redskins may use three tight end formations when Alexander returns.
Linebacker LaVar Arrington seemed greatly improved after suffering a high ankle sprain on Sunday. He’s still doubtful for Denver but could return against Philadelphia on Nov. 25.

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