- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 3, 2002

Sending Vinny long

OSAKA, Japan This spring a couple of former Gators tried to take Washington Redskins uniform numbers 9 and 7, which last were worn by two of the club's great quarterbacks. Yesterday those passers returned to brief activity on the Osaka Dome practice field.

Hall of Famer Sonny Jurgensen and Super Bowl MVP Joe Theismann had personnel director Vinny Cerrato going deep as current Redskins stretched for practice. The game of catch started with Jurgensen and Cerrato short-tossing before Cerrato took some deep throws. Then Theismann got involved.

Jurgensen seemed to delight in making Cerrato stretch for the ball, razzing him to "go down for it" when the ball whizzed toward the AstroTurf. The fun had Frank Herzog, Jurgensen's WJFK (FM-106.7) partner, recalling that the quarterback used to tweak teammates with an uncatchable curveball.

Cerrato seemed to catch everything thrown by Theismann, in town to do the ESPN broadcast. Some attributed the chemistry to their Notre Dame roots (Theismann is a former Fighting Irish star; Cerrato was the program's recruiting coordinator in the late 1980s).

Jurgensen's No.9 and Theismann's No.7 aren't officially retired but haven't been worn since each retired. Shane Matthews wears No.6 after considering No.9 and being warned off by Redskins officials, while Wuerffel briefly wore No.7 before switching to No.17.

Watch the seams

Turf issues have surfaced once again in Redskins training camp. The worry in Carlisle, Pa., is the grass field, which seems to tear easily and might have contributed to several serious knee injuries. At Osaka Dome, the baseball field's bases and mound have been covered by spare pieces of artificial surface.

The common, politically correct theme among players and coaches has been "I've seen worse." San Francisco 49ers coach Steve Mariucci, for example, said the field looks like the notorious old carpet at Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium or the namesake surface at Houston's , but he said it actually is not bad.

"I've seen worse, believe me," Mariucci chanted.

Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington said it's nice that the ground isn't hard underneath the AstroTurf, adding, "I've seen some pretty poor fields, and this is not poor. I'm all right with playing on this."

Say what?

Redskins coach Steve Spurrier dropped the formalities during a very long and rather stiff afternoon news conference with 49ers coach Steve Mariucci and Japanese and American media. Said Spurrier: "I expect we're going to pitch it around. How about you, Coach Mooch?"

Later, a translator said Spurrier's colloquialism loosely translated to "we're going to try hard."

Extra points

• WJFK color man Sam Huff got a nasty look on his face as he sipped a can of cold coffee purchased from a vending machine.

• The exhibition will mark the debut of Washington's new home uniforms, the ones with the spear on the helmet, in honor of the club's 70th anniversary.

•Defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis angrily told his players to use better technique. The outburst added to practice's surprisingly upbeat tempo.

Jody Foldesy

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