- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 1, 2001

An ineffective offensive line, porous third down defense and a quarterback returning from a shoulder injury haven't wavered Washington Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer's expectations of a successful season.

Schottenheimer yesterday conceded decisions are still pending on four starters plus the release of 14 players by tomorrow to reach the 53-player limit. He acknowledged the team played poorly in the 33-13 loss to the New England Patriots on Thursday to finish the preseason 1-3.

Yet, Schottenheimer continued to insist that the Redskins weren't as bad as they appeared in preseason play.

The Redskins were outscored 75-23 during the first half when starters played of the preseason games. Running back Stephen Davis gained 36 yards on 15 carries. Quarterback Jeff George played just three quarters over two games after missing nearly three weeks with shoulder tendinitis. Defensive end Bruce Smith missed the entire preseason with a sprained shoulder that clearly left the Redskins unable to generate a consistent pass rush. Offensive tackle Chris Samuels' two-game absence left the outside unprotected.

Schottenheimer predicted his system, the one that rebuilt Cleveland and Kansas City and got them to the playoffs in 11 of 15 seasons, will prevail.

"When you have a plan and confidence in the plan and it's worked, my feeling is I'm not going to worry about things. I'm going to work on things. That's always been my approach," Schottenheimer said. "We're in a business where you solve problems. The fact that the offensive line is indeed not firmly entrenched, the quarterback has not had an opportunity took play more than three quarters of the preseason and the inactivity has caused a problem … we can't ignore that, but to worry about them is not the solution."

Schottenheimer won't inform players competing for starting jobs until Tuesday when Washington begins practicing for the regular-season opener at the San Diego Chargers on Sept. 9. The Redskins are still seeking to resolve both starting guards, cornerback and middle linebacker.

Schottenheimer expects to name either Ben Coleman or David Brandt the starting right guard. The coach kept open the possibility that either left guards Dave Szott or Matt Campbell could move. The latter two are also competing for a starting job with Szott, who appears to be the front-runner.

Cornerbacks Fred Smoot and Darrell Green may ultimately split the job opposite cornerback Champ Bailey. In the coming days, Green will announce this is his last season, but that won't influence Schottenheimer's call.

"Everyone has been aware of this competition," Schottenheimer said. "Darrell has done a very good job this training camp and preseason. He has worked very, very hard, but there is indeed a very difficult decision that has to be made there. The fact that [Smoot is] a rookie wouldn't bother me at all. It all has to do with the quality of the performer."

Middle linebacker Robert Jones is expected to be ready for San Diego after suffering a mild sprained knee against New England. However, Kevin Mitchell may get the starting nod.

Schottenheimer said Bailey, Smith and Samuels are expected to play against San Diego. Samuels' return is especially welcome after the Patriots regularly pressured George from the outside and had two sacks that caused fumbles.

George, who suffered a bruised right hip on a safety blitz late in the first half, admitted he "felt" a couple of hits. Still, George finished the half well with a 36-yarder to receiver Michael Westbrook that set up a 4-yard touchdown pass to receiver Kevin Lockett. George ended a potential quarterback controversy with backup Tony Banks when he completed 10 of 18 for 126 yards with one touchdown and one interception despite heavy pass pressure.

"I'm not worried about timing," George said. "Once we got it going late in the second quarter [my arm] felt pretty good."

Notes Redskins owner Dan Snyder reportedly ordered team personnel to sign a code of conduct agreement. However, it has gone unsigned by several coaches and front office members. CBS SportsLine said the written guidelines were caused by one assistant coach dating a team worker. A Redskin official declined comment on the report … Banks will get only a nominal share of practice snaps now that regular-season practices begin. Schottenheimer dismissed a report of quarterback Kent Graham seeking the backup job after his pending release by Pittsburgh… . Safety Ifeanyi Ohalete seemingly saved himself from the final cutdown through special teams play against the Patriots. He entered the preseason as a potential starter, but Schottenheimer reiterated David Terrell will start the opener… . Tight end Walter Rasby and cornerback Central McClellion both suffered bruised chests against New England.


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