- The Washington Times - Monday, August 19, 2002

Redskins notes

Russ Grimm felt at home even on the visitors' side last night. The former Washington Redskins guard and offensive line coach met friends in the parking lot, waved to fans in the stands and felt like his two-year exile was merely momentary.
Grimm, the Pittsburgh Steelers' offensive line coach, returned to FedEx Field for the first time since his 20-year career in Washington ended in January 2001 when incoming coach Marty Schottenheimer wanted to pick his own staff.
"It felt a little different being on the other side, but it's good to be back," Grimm said. "Sometimes change is good, but it was nice to see familiar faces. It brings back memories. A lot of good memories. There's a lot of tradition here, and to be part of it makes it that much more special."
Considered the best of the "Hogs" offensive line that won two Super Bowls, Grimm will get Hall of Fame consideration in January after two years on the ballot. The 1981 third-round draft pick was voted to the NFL's All-'80s team and made four Pro Bowls during his 11-year career. Grimm then coached tight ends and the offensive line for nine seasons before Schottenheimer declined to keep him after a brief interview.
"Marty wanted to hire somebody he knew," Grimm said. "That was a decision I had no control over, so you move on to the next place. It bothered me a little, but it's something you can't worry about."
Grimm was lauded last year for the improvement of the Steelers' offensive line, one of the reasons Pittsburgh reached the AFC Championship. Only Redskins offensive tackles Jon Jansen and Chris Samuels and guard Kipp Vickers played for Grimm, but they fondly remembered their old boss.
"Russ really knew the game because he played so long and was the best at his position," Samuels said. "We knew how to work hard and have fun."
Said Jansen: "He made us realize it's a business but also fun. You have to enjoy the game."
Grimm was once considered a future Redskins head coach. He still believes a top job might come somewhere.
"One of these days I'll get there," he said. "It's something I look forward to but in no hurry to get. If it doesn't happen, I'm happy what I'm doing now."

Pregame injuries
Darrell Green played as the third cornerback despite a sore neck, and defensive end Bruce Smith made his preseason debut following offseason knee surgeries.
Green underwent two MRIs last week to find out what was causing discomfort in his neck and spine area. The MRIs found nothing seriously wrong, and he returned to practice Friday morning as the club concluded training camp in Carlisle, Pa.
Smith worked himself slowly into the preseason after having arthroscopic surgery on each knee this offseason. He was scheduled for limited duty with the starting defense before exiting in the first quarter.
Kicker Brett Conway did not play after suffering a hip pointer late in the week, giving way to Dan Frantz. Defensive tackle Daryl Gardener sat out while recovering from back spasms. His place in the starting lineup was taken by Carl Powell, who had been starting at right end in place of Smith.
Receiver Jacquez Green did not dress because of bruised ribs.

Follow the boss
Running back Robert Gillespie's acclimation to the pros has been easier than most rookies. The former Florida Gator simply followed his old coach Steve Spurrier to the Redskins.
"Rookies have to learn a totally new playbook and coaches, but I've been with these guys for four years and feel comfortable with the scheme," Gillespie said. "Both of us are rookies. Coach Spurrier is learning on the run. I'm learning on the run."
Gillespie has a chance to remain as the fifth running back and kick returner after performing both for four seasons at Florida.
"We're pretty loaded at running back. You have to find a place to fit in, whether it's returning kicks or maybe punts," he said.

'Lesser evils'
Linebacker LaVar Arrington said opposing offensive linemen have the tough choice of taking on massive defensive tackles Dan Wilkinson and Daryl Gardener or linebackers Jessie Armstead and Jeremiah Trotter plus himself.
"I don't know one way or the other is the better situation," Arrington said. "It might hurt when [tackles] hits them, and I know it hurts when one of us hits them, so they have to figure out what the lesser evils are."

Nickel set
The Redskins' first-string nickel defensive package once again gave up a huge gain.
This time it was a 36-yard pickup on a screen pass to running back Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala. The play came a week after the unit surrendered a 61-yard touchdown run to Carolina rookie running back DeShaun Foster.
Washington's starting defense had been removed for Foster's run, but the starting nickel unit (composed mostly of starters) came in for the second-and-10 situation in the second quarter.
"Three guys missed a tackle plain, flat and simple," coordinator Marvin Lewis explained last week. "And two guys ran over and got themselves blocked. Not very good defensive football."
Said Arrington: "I really believe guys were just a little lackadaisical. We had been sitting around. There's really no excuse if you get in the game you have to make a play. That's the bottom line. But I think on the play guys were on wind-down."
Lewis gave the nickel unit extensive reps for the two-minute drill a key part of the game that often gets overlooked in the preseason, he said. Washington was expected to utilize a similar rotation last night.
"The mechanics [of the two-minute drill] are so different," Lewis said. "I want our guys to have a chance to get into those situations as much as we can because you can't afford to miss that layup. If you get a chance to put somebody away at the end of the game, you've got to do it."
The most intriguing part of Washington's nickel unit this year is the pass rush. Often Arrington moves up to the line to play from a down position, left end Renaldo Wynn moves inside for a speed rush and Smith gets to pin back his ears.

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