- The Washington Times - Friday, April 26, 2002

Quarterback intrigue, a first look at perhaps the game's best linebacking corps and competition for several starting vacancies are among the key topics entering the Washington Redskins' postdraft minicamp, which begins today.
Second-year passer Sage Rosenfels will begin at first string, ahead of veteran Danny Wuerffel a former Florida player under Redskins coach Steve Spurrier first-round draft pick Patrick Ramsey and Dameyune Craig. But Spurrier emphasized that the quarterbacks are expected to rotate.
"Sage was here [last year]," Spurrier said yesterday. "We usually alternate who goes first. 'You start out first this morning, and then we'll go from there.' Dameyune looks like he's got a grasp of calling the plays a lot better; we may let him go first one day."
The coach also confirmed that Washington would not attempt to sign free agent quarterback Shane Matthews, another former Florida standout, though he didn't rule out the pickup at some point later on.
"We really don't plan to consider anyone immediately, but you never know what's going to happen in the future," Spurrier said. "I feel very confident in the quarterbacks we have here. We've made a commitment to train these players and give them a chance."
On defense, linebackers Jeremiah Trotter, LaVar Arrington and Jessie Armstead will play together for the first time. Each made the Pro Bowl last season for the Philadelphia Eagles, Redskins and New York Giants, respectively and they will be working under first-year coordinator Marvin Lewis, who helped make the Baltimore Ravens' linebackers some of the game's best in recent years.
"I already know what [Arrington and Armstead] can do," said Trotter, who signed last week and had an introductory news conference yesterday. "I played with them last season during the Pro Bowl. I'm very excited about it. I'm looking forward to playing with them and doing what I can to help this team win."
Trotter declined to say whether the Redskins' linebackers are No.1, and Lewis stressed the team concept of his scheme. Whereas many defenses emphasize "strong" safeties and "weakside" linebackers, Lewis prefers to think in more general terms.
"We've got 11 guys on the field, and it doesn't matter what position they play," the coordinator said.
Lewis continued to say he is leaning toward a 4-3 defense without ruling out a 3-4. If Washington does stick to the more common 4-3, it probably needs to pick up another veteran defensive tackle. Also, linebacker Kevin Mitchell, last year's starter in the middle, would be left on the bench.
"It's life," Mitchell said. "I've just got to go in there and handle my business and do my job."
Mitchell is frustrated that Trotter's contract dictates that there won't be competition for the starting job, but Lewis said it is never a bad thing to have too many good players.
"I've already visited with Kevin," Lewis said. "This is a very competitive industry. Kevin has worked very hard, played as a starter and done a lot of very good things. But the opportunity to obtain a player of Jeremiah's age, experience, enthusiasm and ability to make plays, it's too good to be true. We want to have a lot of very fine players, as many of them as we can afford."
Trotter, 25, already sounds like he wants to be a Redskins mainstay. He is eager to take on a leadership role, something many free agents shy away from when they switch teams.
"I think, for one, it comes with the job as a middle linebacker," Trotter said. "And two, it's just me. I was born that way. That's something I brought to the table with the Eagles."
Minicamp also will allow coaches to look at young players at guard and defensive tackle, the remaining starting vacancies. Ross Tucker, Alex Sulfsted and David Loverne will compete at guard, while Carl Powell and Donovan Arp might boost their cases at defensive tackle. Fellow defensive tackle Del Cowsette will sit out while his surgically repaired wrist continues to heal.
Coaches cautioned, however, that success in minicamp while practicing in shorts proves little, especially at the line positions.
"Everyone is just going to be moving around so I can get a feel for mentally how they handle the number of plays," offensive line coach Kim Helton said. "But you don't prove you're an NFL offensive lineman before you get into pads."

Note Free agent linebacker Robert Jones, who started nine games for the Redskins last season, signed a one-year, $750,000 contract with the Houston Texans.


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