- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 18, 2001

Washington Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer yesterday conceded uncertainty over how effectively his team will prepare for the Green Bay Packers on Monday.
The team resumed practice after the NFL canceled games on Sunday following terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center last Tuesday. Schottenheimer has tried to create a family atmosphere for players to emotionally support each other: Sunday, Schottenheimer and several players visited Pentagon rescue workers, and Friday the team held a memorial service at Arlington National Cemetery.
After a three-day break, players worked efficiently enough to have practice cut 10 minutes short an encouraging sign that a group stunned by the tragedy was starting to concentrate on the Packers. However, Schottenheimer conceded their focus may ebb and flow over coming days.
"I think they will [be ready], but I can't be certain of that," Schottenheimer said. "I can't see into the future. There's no blueprint for this.
"If the concentration and focus isn't where it needs to be then I will address it. I told our players today 'I'm not going to insult anybody and stand up here and say we have to put this behind us and move on' because it's not the real world. The reality of it is we have to deal with this as a nation each and every day."
Practice is never popular among players, but for once they seemingly didn't mind. It was a chance to focus on something other than tragedy.
"In some ways it felt good, at other times I found myself drifting off, looking into the skies quite a bit," defensive end Bruce Smith said. "I don't know if we'll ever get back to normal. That was ruined last Tuesday."
Players admitted they missed playing on Sunday. Many were involved in family-oriented activities when the Redskins would have played the Arizona Cardinals. Now they're looking forward to playing on "Monday Night Football."
"When they sing the national anthem," safety Keith Lyle said, "I think that's going to inspire everybody in America and that's going to be a good thing."
Whether the NFL will reschedule the 16th game and cut the first round of the playoffs plus security involving travel and stadiums were among the players' concerns. Most players preferred playing 16 games instead of 15. Of course, they get paid weekly during the season so not playing would cost 1/17th of their salary when also factoring the bye week.
"I prefer we get a chance to play all 16 games," defensive end Marco Coleman said. "I'd like to get all eight of our games at home for myself and the fans here."
The team is reviewing its travel security, though the Redskins depart Dulles International Airport on charter flights where the pilots and flight attendants are regulars. Players are more concerned stadium crowds would be an inviting target for terrorists.
"I think [added security] will definitely increase the confidence of the players," Smith said. "We can only hope and pray that that will be enough."
The Redskins will visit Pentagon victims at Washington Hospital Center today. While the team regularly visits hospitals and civic groups on Tuesdays throughout the season and often during the offseason, the tragedy has made recent visits much more personal.
"The fact that you see all these people who are working so diligently to resolve things in a positive way, you realize this country has a great fabric about it," Schottenheimer said. "There's a depth and a quality to people in this country that will enable us to come out of this, albeit with a different perspective."
Notes Guard David Brandt will start after suffering a sprained knee against San Diego… . The team will practice tomorrow through Saturday with a short walkthrough on Sunday before flying to Green Bay.
Staff writer Jody Foldesy contributed to this article.

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