- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 18, 2001

Ben Coleman will make his first start for the Washington Redskins Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. The versatile offensive lineman, finally healthy, will replace Matt Campbell at right guard.
Coleman, who received the biggest signing bonus ($623,000) of any Redskins free agent in the offseason, has battled a sore knee all year. It caused him to miss much of training camp and remains somewhat of a concern.
"I'm still not 100 percent, but I'm heading in that direction," Coleman said yesterday. "It's been tough, and it's been a long time [since Ive played extensively], but I feel pretty good now."
The Redskins have shuffled personnel at right guard all year. Two since-cut young players started there in early preseason games before giving way to undrafted rookie David Brandt. Brandt then sprained a knee in the opener, gave way to Campbell and has seen limited reserve action.
Coach Marty Schottenheimer now likes Coleman because his size (6-foot-5, 332 pounds, compared to Campbell's 6-4, 300-pound frame) and power are suited to the right guard position.
Coleman saw a good bit of action in Monday night's 9-7 loss to Dallas. He committed a false start penalty but helped open holes for running back Stephen Davis.
Now Coleman will face Panthers defensive tackle Sean Gilbert, who is best known in the District for holding out as a Redskin for the entire 1997 season. The two battled in Coleman's first NFL season, 1993, which was the year Gilbert became the youngest player to start in a Pro Bowl.
"[Gilbert] has talent, there's no question about it," Coleman said. "He's powerful. He's a veteran. He's a guy who, if you allow him to get started, he can hurt you."
Campbell will back up several positions, including tight end, where Pro Bowl starter Stephen Alexander is out several weeks with a high ankle sprain.

Smoot out
Rookie cornerback Fred Smoot will miss the Panthers game, and perhaps two to three weeks total, while recovering from a bruised lower leg and strained muscles around his knee. He said this will be his first injury-related absence since high school.
Smoot was injured in Monday's second quarter when he was pushed in the back while trying to defend an option pitch. Yesterday Smoot said he initially feared a far more serious injury, adding that the artificial turf at Texas Stadium contributed to the setback.
Rookie Central McClellion, who began the season on the practice squad, will man the No. 3 corner position while veteran Darrell Green moves into the starting lineup. Washington's cornerback position, once overloaded with talent, now is thin with Smoot injured and Donovan Greer out for the season with a torn ACL.
McClellion, 25, joined the Redskins in July after playing two springs in NFL Europe. Said Green: "He's a guy who has high energy. He's a very conscientious guy. I expect him to do an excellent job."
That said, the Panthers are expected to challenge McClellion, particularly because they regularly use three-receiver sets. Also, Carolina leans on the pass because it has the NFL's last-ranked rushing attack (62.2 yards).
Free safety David Terrell could play some corner if McClellion struggles. Terrell is athletic enough to play both positions and the Redskins have a capable backup safety in veteran Keith Lyle. Washington also has worked with three-safety sets, but those formations have removed a cornerback in an effort to stop the run.

Health watch
Defensive ends Marco Coleman (elbow) and Bruce Smith (shoulder) made some progress in their rehabilitations. Coleman ran some plays in practice and said he should know tomorrow whether he can contribute Sunday. Smith practiced some but didn't have any contact. He said he is being cautious because his shoulder will need surgery if it is dislocated again.
Cornerback Champ Bailey (ankle) did not practice but should not have any problem playing Sunday.
For Carolina, quarterback Chris Weinke and top receiver Muhsin Muhammad both are probable with hip injuries. However, both missed practice, and there was some concern about Weinke, who visited a doctor in the evening for what appeared to be a groin injury.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide