- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 25, 2002

CARLISLE, Pa. The Washington Redskins could gain a needed defensive tackle after former Miami standout Daryl Gardener works out today.

Gardener left Detroit yesterday after a solid tryout that prompted the Lions to seek a deal. Houston passed after working Gardener on Monday. Several other teams also are interested, but NFL sources said Washington and Detroit appear to be front-runners to sign the 1996 first-round pick, who was released Friday.

Gardener missed the final eight games last year following his second back surgery in two years. Issues with Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt over switching to end and the bad back caused Gardener to be cut just two seasons into an eight-year, $49.5million deal.

The Redskins are looking to replace free agent tackle Kenard Lang. Santana Dotson has been sidelined six weeks by a calf injury, and Donovan Arp is in the position. The Lions need to replace Shaun Rogers, who recently had surgery to remove bone chips in his ankle.

Washington has salary cap room to sign Gardener, who is seeking a multi-year deal with a low first-year salary and escalators to reward a good season.

Meanwhile, guard David Brandt was placed on the voluntarily left camp list Monday to give Washington two roster openings. The Redskins retain Brandt's rights indefinitely.

Ramsey: No progress

The Redskins and top pick Patrick Ramsey still haven't agreed to any aspects of the quarterback's contract. Ramsey's holdout reaches its third day today and appears certain to exceed wide receiver Rod Gardner's four-day absence last season.

The escalator package, as expected, is shaping up as the biggest hurdle. Players in the late first round generally don't get escalators (salary increases) until their fifth, or occasionally fourth, season. These negotiations should hinge on when Ramsey, the 32nd overall pick (last of the first round), begins earning escalators. He obviously wants them to begin as soon as possible.

Complicating matters is the fact that Ramsey is expected to start next season, if not late this season or even immediately. Thus, one might say that Ramsey should get his first escalator next year, but the Redskins do not want a total break from the traditional structure of a late first-round deal.

Ultimately the package of escalators and incentives will be layered and complex, based on a variety of possible playing-time scenarios. Aspects such as signing bonus and term should be easier to figure out but also have not been agreed upon.

Talks remain amicable when they occur. Only one conversation took place Tuesday; it was late at night and little progress was made. There were no discussions as of early last night.

Health watch

Defensive end Bruce Smith (knee) and Dotson were placed on the physically unable to perform list and kicker Brett Conway was named to the inactive, non-football injury list after failing physicals. The moves were considered routine, with Dotson and Conway expected to return soon. Smith probably needs a couple more weeks and won't travel to Japan for the Aug.3 preseason opener against San Francisco.

Cornerback Kato Serwanga could miss the season after surgery for a torn meniscus in his right knee suffered Monday. The special teams standout will need at least two months to recover.

Linebacker Jessie Armstead missed the afternoon session with a sore toe. Guard Wilbert Brown needed IV fluids following the morning workout.

Grudge match

After losing 21 of 24 snaps in the offensive-oriented Oklahoma drill, the defense quickly dominated in 11-on-11 passing drills with linebacker Jeremiah Trotter's interception the fitting end.

"We were holding a little bit of a grudge," linebacker LaVar Arrington said. "They get us, we get them. It makes it fun. You don't want to dominate all the time."

With the first practice in full pads, the hitting was intense. When Arp sideswiped fullback Bryan Johnson, running back Stephen Davis raced from a nearby pack to challenge Arp.

"Guys take pride in themselves. They don't want to lose, so we came over to this field and got it done," said linebacker Eddie Mason, who made the biggest defensive play during the Oklahoma drill. "It's the type of toughness we're trying to be. Defense wins championships. Everybody knows that."

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