- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 28, 2002

Redskins notes

CARLISLE, Pa. Washington Redskins linebacker Jeremiah Trotter used two words to describe why it might look like he's having a sharp training camp.
"No distractions."
Last year Trotter endured a subpar camp with the Philadelphia Eagles and a rough start to the season while worrying about his lack of a long-term contract. Playing on a one-year restricted tender offer, he questioned the Eagles' commitment and was stressed about his future. Now he finally feels part of a team that wants him.
"[Camp last year] was uncertain," Trotter said yesterday. "You didn't know what your future held. You try not to think about it, but you're human. I blocked it out to a certain extent, but once I came off the field and got home and settled down, you think about those things."
The 25-year-old Pro Bowl pick joined Washington this spring after Philadelphia rescinded its franchise tag. The Eagles effectively kept Trotter out of free agency while trying to figure out a long-term solution, but ultimately there was too much bad blood.
Trotter got through the season by focusing on playing for his teammates. He later admitted that his struggles could be attributed to contract complications. Now, playing on a blockbuster seven-year, $35.5million deal, he feels committed to the organization as well as to his fellow Redskins.
"I didn't have a problem coming to work when I knew I wasn't wanted," Trotter said of Philadelphia. "My teammates wanted me, and that's the main thing I was out there for was my teammates. But in this camp it's just a different atmosphere."
Trotter, LaVar Arrington and Jessie Armstead are expected to be one of the league's premier linebacking corps, if not its best. The threesome look good so far, playing with high intensity and making plenty of plays.
Trotter, in particular, seemed to raise his game in the first practice in pads. He has made a number of interceptions and repeatedly has been in position in coverage and against the run.
"There's nothing between me and getting better," Trotter said. "It's only me. And I'm not going to stop me."

Live drills
The Redskins had their first full-contact live drills during the fan appreciation practice in the afternoon. The offense looked better than it had in recent days though it still isn't smooth. Quarterback Shane Matthews continued to improve from a rough start to camp, connecting on several long passes including a perfect touchdown toss to Rod Gardner between two defenders.
The club's next live action will come in the Aug.3 exhibition against the San Francisco 49ers in Osaka, Japan. Coach Steve Spurrier saw progress yesterday but thinks his passing game has a lot farther to come.
"The passing game is decent, nothing super right now," Spurrier said. "We dropped a few passes, didn't get a few off. But the guys are hustling, they're trying. We've got a chance to have a pretty good passing game, I think."
The coach added that the quarterbacks Matthews, Danny Wuerffel and Sage Rosenfels seem to have grasped the plays.

Injury update
The club got through the live drills without any injuries. Wide receiver Darnerien McCants, who had been having a very impressive camp, got banged up in the morning. McCants landed hard on his hand and there was some swelling in his wrist. X-rays were negative, but he was taken back to Ashburn for a precautionary MRI.
Guard David Loverne also will get a precautionary MRI this weekend on his injured elbow. Safety Ifeanyi Ohalete sat out with a bruised knee but might make the trip to Japan. Offensive lineman Wayne Smith missed time with a strained hip. Defensive linemen Bruce Smith (knees) and Santana Dotson (calf) are unlikely to return before Japan, but there is a small chance.
Kicker Brett Conway is working back slowly after battling an illness, but Spurrier gave him a little jab for not kicking very much.
"Brett's kicked awfully well in the past, but he doesn't kick a lot," Spurrier said. "I've never been around a kicker who doesn't kick very much, but he doesn't like to kick a lot. Maybe he knows more about it than I do, I guess. But it's something new for me."

No progress
Little apparent progress was made in negotiations with free agent defensive tackle Daryl Gardener and rookie quarterback Patrick Ramsey. Neither player appears particularly eager to sign before next week's trip to Japan. Some veterans, meanwhile, privately acknowledge that they aren't too thrilled about the long trip either.


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