- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 16, 2002

Washington Redskins coach Steve Spurrier already has his first recruit defensive end Bruce Smith.

Smith will return for his 18th season after admitting last night that he probably would have retired had former coach Marty Schottenheimer remained. Spurrier's pledge for easier practices was enough for the 38-year-old Smith to continue. He was among only a handful of players to attend Spurrier's news conference.

"It's very exciting, very exciting [to have] a coach that believes you should leave it on the game field, not the practice field," Smith said. "You don't have to have the mentality 'Kill, kill, kill' on every play."

The future Hall of Famer openly clashed with Schottenheimer's heavy-handed practices and rules last year, even saying there were "Five-0" spies in the locker room. Smith often shook his head while stretching in training camp when Schottenheimer stopped to talk. Smith was especially upset because he was not permitted to attend the Hall of Fame induction of former Buffalo Bills coach Marv Levy during training camp and suffered a dislocated shoulder during a preseason workout.

"This is not 'Bash Marty Day,'" Smith said. "There were differences of opinion. Being with Coach Levy, I knew there was a better way. The rules and regulations, I wasn't crazy about it. It wasn't very healthy as an environment. It seemed a long season mentally and physically."

Smith needs 13 sacks to surpass Reggie White's NFL career-record 198. He finished with only five sacks last year and missed two games with a sprained shoulder a year after making 10 sacks.

Smith's return will impact fellow linemates Kenard Lang and Marco Coleman. Lang, an unrestricted free agent, only wants to return as an end instead of as a tackle, where he played last year. That means Lang will sign elsewhere if Coleman doesn't depart.

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