- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Washington Redskins defensive tackle Carl Powell didn't mind working offseasons as a telephone pole inspector or playing in NFL Europe twice. He ignored friends' advice to retire following an ankle injury.

But there were limits, and being traded for a kicker last year nearly exceeded Powell's. It seemed like he was swapped for a bag of balls and four years of sizable effort suddenly seemed pointless.

"A kicker? I told them to send me home after being traded for a kicker," Powell said. "But one of the coaches told me never to give up on the game. I just knew I loved the game and in the right system I could compete."

Powell finished the overseas summer league and finally played for the Chicago Bears last season. Now he has flourished in the Redskins' system and will start against the New England Patriots tomorrow night while Daryl Gardener remains sidelined with back problems. Powell can play both defensive end and tackle and should gain regular time this season.

"I knew if I got into the right circumstances, my athletic ability would come forward," he said.

Defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis remembered Powell when the latter was inactive throughout 2000 while both were with the Baltimore Ravens. Powell didn't play in 1999 and was inactive the two previous seasons with Indianapolis after drafted in the fifth round. Lewis liked the 273-pounder's mobility, but felt Powell needed to play more physically.

"When we kept him in Baltimore, he probably didn't play with enough mass and girth," Lewis said. "Now he's giving us the athleticism as well as the girth inside. Now can he hold up in there for 16 games? He's held up against the number ones for the other teams, and that's the thing you want to be."

Powell finally played 16 games with Chicago, getting two of his 15 tackles against Washington. Powell's clothesline hit on Minnesota quarterback Daunte Culpepper made the highlight clips. That's why Lewis urged the Redskins to sign the free agent over the offseason.

"I think he's settled into a niche in the NFL he's kind of been that swing guy," Lewis said. "The thing I talked to him about when we finally had to release Carl in Baltimore was, you have to be careful because you end up a jack of all trades and a master of nothing. He's fitting into a huge role here for us."

Special moves

Deep snapper Ethan Albright has overcome offseason speculation that he might become a salary cap casualty for rookie Jeff Grau, who was released yesterday, along with linebacker Donte Curry and defensive tackle Sean Powell.

Albright was vulnerable because keeping seventh-rounder Grau would have saved $450,000. However, the Redskins weren't tight against the salary cap and opted for Albright's eight years of experience.

"Jeff is good enough to snap in this league it's just he's a rookie. We've got a veteran who's a proven commodity," said special teams coach Mike Stock. "It's good for morale. If you have a bad snap, the morale of the team, the fans is gone. It's a downer."

Meanwhile, coach Steve Spurrier said the team could keep kicker James Tuthill over Brett Conway if the latter isn't ready for the regular-season opener against Arizona on Sept.8. Conway is expected to miss his third straight game against New England with a strained groin but should return for Arizona. Tuthill was signed Thursday and converted a 23-yard field goal.

"[Tuthill] looks pretty good in practice. It's about all you can go on. He's a very good kickoff guy," Spurrier said.

Extra points

Linebacker LaVar Arrington is expected to play against New England despite missing practice with a sore hamstring. … Defensive end Bruce Smith was excused from practice for personal reasons. … Tight end Robert Royal will start for injured Walter Rasby. … Fullback Bryan Johnson and Rock Cartwright will both play extensively this season, Spurrier said. … Cornerback Kato Serwanga may not return until late October after suffering a sprained knee July30.

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