- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 13, 2002

Believing the foundation was laid for a successful debut season under coach Steve Spurrier, the Washington Redskins concluded a lengthy stretch of offseason practices yesterday and looked ahead to the July23 start of training camp in Carlisle, Pa.

"I think we made a lot of progress with a lot of work still to be done," Spurrier said after a final three-day minicamp. "There's a lot of improvement needed, but we've got basically a start. Hopefully each player knows what he needs to work on prior to training camp."

They've worked plenty already, thanks to NFL rules that permit first-year coaches two extra minicamps, or as many as four to six extra days of practice. Many players left feeling like they no longer have a new regime or scheme, and some even believe they're ahead of last year's pace under Marty Schottenheimer.

"[The frequent practices] pretty much felt like regular season, a little bit," linebacker LaVar Arrington said. "At first I think it was getting adjusted, but I think we picked it up so fast that now it's fine-tuning."

Said cornerback Champ Bailey: "We put in a lot of stuff. They threw it at us, we made a lot of mistakes, and we made a lot of good things happen. I think it's a big plus that we got all this work done."

Both sides of the ball appeared to install much of their playbook. Offensively, Spurrier implemented the creative attack that flourished for 12 seasons at the University of Florida. Defensively, coordinator Marvin Lewis put in an attacking scheme that tries to confuse opponents with different looks.

Players didn't seem overwhelmed, and several on offense said Spurrier's plays weren't as hard to learn as anticipated.

"I think a lot of people had Spurrier's system overrated in a sense," tackle Chris Samuels said. "They thought it was going to be this big, complicated system, a million plays and things like that. But it's pretty simple, and I think that's why he's had so much success in the past."

Players seem to like Spurrier's enthusiasm. Arrington, who was close with Schottenheimer and several of his assistants, was stunned to learn that Spurrier is just a year younger than his predecessor.

"He has the same type of swagger we have, the same type of personality that we have," Arrington said. "Coaches are always so set apart from us. Sometimes you don't even feel like you can talk to your head coach. But he's very closely related to how we are."

Quarterback remains the intriguing position as Shane Matthews, Sage Rosenfels and Danny Wuerffel battle for the starting spot. Spurrier kept his word by rotating each at first string and it appears the battle will be determined in the preseason games that begin Aug.3 in Osaka, Japan.

Rookie quarterback Patrick Ramsey made dramatic strides. Spurrier held Ramsey out of team drills early on as the first-round pick learned the plays and struggled to adjust his mechanics, but in recent weeks Ramsey's strong arm stood out.

Ramsey said he met with Spurrier following yesterday's workout and the coach told him how pleased he was. Ramsey actually was disappointed that practices ended because "it's starting to come together," but he expects to assert himself in camp after spending the next several weeks in Washington studying the plays with assistant Noah Brindise.

Spurrier, who repeatedly left Ramsey out of talks concerning this year's quarterback, yesterday seemed to leave open a slight possibility that the rookie could play.

"I don't know how it will all pan out," Spurrier said. "He's made a lot of progress, and we'll play him in the exhibition games. He'll get a chance to go out there. Realistically it would be difficult for him to be as knowledgeable as the other three, but we'll wait and see."

The Redskins' roster is close to complete following last week's release of defensive end Marco Coleman and signings of defensive tackle Santana Dotson and offensive lineman Kipp Vickers. The pickups addressed the two positions that had experience issues, though each signing was for the minimum salary.

The club remains interested in high-priced defensive tackle Sam Adams and the long-shot return of Coleman. Also, there are a few other spots where the Redskins would consider another minimum-salary signing. But it wouldn't be stunning if Washington doesn't add more recognizable free agents.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide