- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 25, 2001

It's difficult enough to follow a famous father, but returner Eric Metcalf couldn't even get his dad's jersey number yesterday when he signed with the Washington Redskins.
Metcalf's first choice was No. 21, the number he has worn most of his NFL career and previously worn by Terry Metcalf for St. Louis (1973-77). But it belongs to Redskins cornerback Fred Smoot.
So Metcalf's next choice was No. 26, worn by Terry when he was with Washington (1981) because No. 21 belonged to Mike Nelms. But Eric couldn't get that number either because safety Ifeanyi Ohalete wears it.
Metcalf's third choice of No. 2 was denied by the NFL, which won't let a receiver wear such a low number. By then, Metcalf said No. 34 seemed "the next best-looking number."
Although Metcalf won't be wearing his dad's numbers with the Redskins, coach Marty Schottenheimer won't soon forget Metcalf's lineage.
"I told Eric I'm sure there will be times that I'll refer to him as Terry, and he said don't worry because it happens all the time," Schottenheimer said.
Following his father hasn't been that hard for Eric, though. Terry played six years in the NFL and three in the Canadian Football League, averaging 25.5 yards on kickoff returns and 11.1 yards on punt returns. Eric averaged 20.7 yards on kickoffs and 9.7 on punts for Cleveland (1989-94), Atlanta (1995-96), San Diego (1997), Arizona (1998) and Carolina (1999). Father and son each made three Pro Bowls. Terry gained 10,001 yards, including 3,498 rushing and 2,457 receiving. Eric has gained 2,385 yards rushing and 5,533 receiving.
"We do things differently," Eric said. "He ran more between the tackles, but I've played more receiver."
Elusiveness bonds the generations. Both Metcalfs made opponents miss with a sharp first step.
"I can make moves. I can make guys miss," Eric said. "There's still a chance for me to go out there and do things."
Metcalf will return punts against the NFC defending champion New York Giants on Sunday for the first time since 1999 with Carolina. He missed last season and was released in August by Oakland. Still, the 12-year veteran was signed despite his lengthy absence because of the Redskins' desperation. Washington has only 19 yards on punt returns in five games, further hurting a struggling offense with poor field position.
The Redskins unsuccessfully used kick returner Michael Bates and receiver Kevin Lockett. Schottenheimer talked with cornerback Darrell Green after the latter practiced returns during the summer. However, Green may start his second consecutive game at cornerback for the injured Smoot, and Schottenheimer didn't want to overload the 41-year old. Schottenheimer also didn't want a rookie returning punts, so Metcalf was the easy choice after a Tuesday workout.
"You're looking for a guy who can make at least one miss, because there's usually going to be one [defender] there when he catches the ball," Schottenheimer said. "Then you have a chance to go. That quickness stood out. Eric's very dangerous."
Metcalf said he thought his career might be over after Oakland released him. When he talked with Green Bay last month, he was busy with his year-old twins in Seattle and wasn't looking to return to football.
"I wasn't too confident that someone would call this season," Metcalf said. "If someone would call me to ask to play, I'd say, 'I'd love to play,' but at the same time I didn't tell my agent to shop me around."
Metcalf was an All-Met at Arlington's Bishop O'Connell High School during his three years in Washington. He lived across the street from former Redskins receiver Art Monk and attended many games after his father's 1982 retirement. Still, Metcalf only now appreciates following his dad's path to Washington, providing the Redskins with their first father-son act. Both men also played for the Cardinals, though in different cities.
"I never thought about playing for the Redskins," Metcalf said. "It's like being at home."

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