- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 16, 2002

Defensive tackle has emerged as the Washington Redskins' first-round focus, but the team is still preparing to take a receiver, guard or quarterback in Saturday's draft.

The Redskins are hoping one of a quartet of highly rated tackles falls to their No. 18 pick. Tennessee's John Henderson and Albert Haynes-worth, Wisconsin's Wendell Bryant and North Carolina's Ryan Sims are expected to be already taken. Bryant might be the best bet to remain, but the projected turbulent draft could yield surprises.

Washington also will consider trading up to select Oregon quarterback Joey Harrington if he falls to No. 10, which is a possibility in many mock drafts. Washington seems less interested in taking Tulane quarterback Patrick Ramsey with its first-rounder, though trading down to choose him later is possible. The Redskins are considering several guards, including Colorado's Andre Gurode, Auburn's Kendall Simmons and Nebraska's Toniu Fonoti, but may wait until the second or third round for an interior lineman.

Vice president of football operations Joe Mendes won't comment on draft specifics. After meeting with scouts last week, Mendes is reviewing potential picks with coaches over coming days before narrowing the top choices. The Redskins must remain flexible given their varied needs and midround selection.

"It should be the easiest, most enjoyable day of the year because it's the Christmas of the NFL," Mendes said. "It's not a one or two-man show [in making the selection]. It's an entire recipe of people making the decision."

Meanwhile, Washington coaches met with Philadelphia middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter at Redskin Park after the free agent dined with owner Dan Snyder on Sunday. Washington opened with a one-year offer to Trotter, according to NFL sources.

Philadelphia released Trotter from his franchise tag after reportedly first shopping him leaguewide. The two-time Pro Bowl player was named the Eagles' defensive MVP last season by teammates.

"[Im looking for] a place where I feel comfortable and come in and help the team out," Trotter said. "They have a great staff here. They're laid back. They love to have fun, and they love the game. It's like me I love to have fun. I love the sport. I have a passion for the game. That's something I look for in coaches."

Trotter visited Houston recently and will meet with Green Bay on Thursday. Pairing Trotter with outside linebackers LaVar Arrington and Jessie Armstead would give the Redskins one of the NFL's top units.

"We would have the best linebacking corps in the league, so it's definitely a good opportunity and I'm excited about it," Trotter said. "I hope we can get something done."

However, Washington needs to clear salary cap room to sign Trotter. A multiyear deal would be more cap-friendly.

"If we could fit him in, we'd love to have him," coach Steve Spurrier said. "But we've only got so much dough. Free agency isn't really free."

Washington is also expected to trade for Chicago quarterback Shane Matthews in coming days. Both sides have conceded interest, with trade talks probably centering on whether Washington will send its fifth- or sixth-rounder to Chicago. Spurrier said he was optimistic about obtaining Matthews.

Preseason sked

The Redskins will play home preseason games on a Sunday and Thursday rather than compete with weekend beach traffic. Washington plays host to Pittsburgh on Aug. 18 and New England on Aug. 29 and travels to Carolina on Aug. 10 and Tampa Bay on Aug. 24. The Redskins open in Osaka, Japan, on Aug. 3 against the San Francisco 49ers in the American Bowl.

Washington has only 3½ weeks of training camp with nearly one week (July 31-Aug. 5) devoted to the overseas game. The Redskins open practice at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., on July 23 and should break camp Aug. 16.

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