- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 4, 2002

Redskins notes

OSAKA, Japan — More than six months of anticipation culminated last night with the vaunted offense of coach Steve Spurrier making its Washington Redskins debut.

Spurriers teams averaged more than 35 points and about 460 yards per game during 12 immensely successful seasons at the University of Florida, and one of the biggest questions in the NFL this year is whether his scheme will work at the professional level.

The intrigue helped make the Redskins exhibition opener — in the American Bowl against the San Francisco 49ers at Osaka Dome — far more scrutinized than the average preseason game. The nationally televised contest attracted a relatively high level of interest from NFL fans.

"Im pretty excited to see it myself," Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington said this week during preparation for the game.

Spurriers offense is known for its quick-strike capability, giving the appearance that wide receivers are jetting all over the secondary and the ball is constantly being thrown downfield.

But Redskins players have learned that the scheme isnt nearly so high-risk. In fact, it uses many conservative sets and gives ample carries to running backs. However, it was so effective on the college level that it seemed like every play went for a big gain. Redskins coaches and players now expect similar success in the NFL.

"Its a good scheme," wide receivers coach Steve Spurrier Jr. said. "If you execute it, it should work. [Spurrier] can do it. He always has done it."More than anything, Spurrier has demonstrated a knack for finding defenses weaknesses — an ability he sums up in his trademark aw-shucks fashion, saying he throws deep when they play short, and throws it short when they play deep.NFL defensive coordinators, of course, are quick to react to new tactics. But, wide receiver Jacquez Green said, "He does a good job of adjusting, also — especially during games."

Green added that the offense has developed more options since he starred in it during the mid-1990s. That puts more pressure on the quarterback to get in the right play at the line of scrimmage. However, Sage Rosenfels, last nights starting quarterback who is in his first year under Spurrier, said the set is surprisingly easy to pick up.

Multiple roles

Rod Jones has played all over the offensive line in training camp after signing a three-year, $3 million contract in April to be the right guard. Last night he was slated to start at left guard, but he saw time at left tackle earlier this week and right guard early in camp.

Jones played tackle for the St. Louis Rams before coming to Washington. His size (6-foot-5, 355 pounds) makes him an ideal right guard because the emphasis usually is on straight-ahead blocking. But Jones adjustment came slowly, and when left guard David Loverne injured his elbow, coaches moved Jones to that side, figuring that positions tactics are closer to a tackles because of the pulling and movement.

Jones then returned to tackle this week when starter Chris Samuels came down with an illness shortly after arriving in Osaka. Samuels practiced yesterday morning (Friday night EDT) and was expected to start last night, but Jones remains the likely fill-in if something happens to Samuels or right tackle Jon Jansen.

"You just make yourself useful wherever you can," Jones said. "Those opportunities might come up later. Somebody might go down and Ill have to go back in there. We need to have some swing guys who can go in there and play; hopefully that will be me."

Jones admitted that the switch to guard can be "difficult" because of its subtle angles and attacking methods. Overall, he remains a work in progress."Mentally, he understands the assignments," offensive line coach Kim Helton said. "Hes trying to make the adjustment from tackle, and its not easy."

Extra points

NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said the roster exemptions for the Redskins and 49ers Japanese players went into effect for the remainder of camp. Thus, Washington wide receiver Akihito Amaya should return to Carlisle, Pa., with the team. His exemption functions much like an NFL Europe players does, letting him stay until final cuts and count a reduced amount against the salary cap if injured.

Samuels said he felt ill before he ate his first meal in Osaka, probably from something served on the flight. He was administered IVs after yesterdays light practice but otherwise felt ready to play as much as coaches would permit. Ross Tucker was expected to start at right guard despite sitting out practice with an injured neck.

—Jody Foldesy

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