- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 20, 2002

Five months before training camp, Washington Redskins coach Steve Spurrier already is pacing himself for a long season.
Spurrier has learned quickly that the NFL provides little down time. After a lifetime of coaching 11-game college seasons following three-week camps, Spurrier is adjusting to the demands of the pro offseason schedule, which includes two minicamps and four weeks of light workouts. The Redskins even have five preseason games, including one against the San Francisco 49ers in the American Bowl on Aug. 3 in Osaka, Japan.
"In college, we play five games and we're halfway through the season," Spurrier said. "One of [the players] complaints is the coaches want to practice all summer. There is plenty of time to coach. You practice six to seven weeks before the season opens. A lot of teams have had too much football before the real games. The key is to try to pace yourself. You can't get all gung-ho at the beginning. You only have so much emotion and have to create it towards the real games."
Still, Spurrier is on a short timetable. A new coach's grace period seemingly ends at training camp's start, and the Redskins still must sign a quarterback, tight end and No. 2 receiver, plus an interior offensive line to grasp the pro version of the "Fun 'N' Gun" that Spurrier used at Florida.
Free agency begins March 1, and the Redskins are talking to many of their 17 unrestricted free agents. Defensive tackle Del Cowsette signed a one-year, $300,000 deal, and fellow exclusive rights players fullback Bryan Johnson, tight end Zeron Flemister and defensive tackle Jerry DeLoach also are expected to sign in coming days. Spurrier wants to shape the team quickly even though a heavy roster turnover is expected for the second straight year. Several unrestricted free agents were invited to the first minicamp, including quarterback Tony Banks.
"We've got a lot of maneuvering to do to find out who our team will be," he said. "I don't know who the quarterback's going to be."
Spurrier's biggest fear appears to be wasting time during offseason practices. There will be minicamps March 25-27 and April 25-27, plus nearly 16 "coaching sessions" in May and June and ongoing classroom meetings. The workouts should provide enough teaching time, but Spurrier's previous talks with NFL players showed many believe offseason workouts often are fruitless.
"They've always said they have to be there for four days and it's a waste of time," Spurrier said. "They sit there all morning and talk about four running plays. I'm just a big believer that when you're practicing you're accomplishing something rather than just putting in time. I know I can get bored easily and the players can get bored if we're not giving them something that excites them and is beneficial to the regular season."
Spurrier won't overload players on the four-day trip to Japan for the preseason opener. In fact, it should be a light stint after eight days of training camp, which begins July 23.
"We'll encourage the players to pack their cameras," Spurrier said. "We're going to see the world a little bit. We'll try to turn it into a positive. It does give us some extra practice."
Meanwhile, the Redskins signed secondary coach George Catavolus, and a strength/conditioning coach will be named today. Catavolus spent the past four years with Indianapolis following three seasons with Carolina.


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