- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 13, 2002

Washington Redskins cornerbacks Champ Bailey and Fred Smoot plan to spend part of their next offseason on a Hawaiian beach readying for the Pro Bowl.

"I'm going to be eating pineapples when the year's over," Smoot said.

Said Bailey: "We're going to be the best tandem in the league. We can take on anybody."

The best tandem in the league? It's not a long shot. Certainly, they're the two best young corners. Bailey turns 24 on June22 with two Pro Bowls in three seasons. Smoot, 23, comes off a solid rookie season after displacing future Hall of Fame selection Darrell Green.

Bailey is still miffed about not starting the Pro Bowl last year after covering every opponent's top receiver. He surrendered a few touchdowns, but there were plenty of big plays. No longer the quiet, unassuming sensation from Georgia, Bailey doesn't mind saying he belongs in the Pro Bowl.

"I don't care what [voters] think. I'm know I'm one of the best in the league," Bailey said. "I do like [covering] that No.1 guy."

Smoot could be the second coming of Deion Sanders, with the same scrawny legs and spirited language. He chose Sanders' No.21 last year and since dubbed himself "Show Time" after Sanders' "Prime Time."

"Fred has the potential," Bailey said. "He's good right now, but he has to be good for a number of years before he can be 'Show Time.'"

Smoot said it won't be long before he deserves the moniker.

"I'm going to earn the name this year," he said. "I won't be hesitant to make a play. Some people say I like to gamble a lot. I'm going to turn into a gambling man."

The tandem may find playing their positions easier after facing coach Steve Spurrier's offense during practice. Spurrier's three- and four-receiver sets give Bailey and Smoot plenty of reps.

"It's tough while we're doing it, but it helps in the long run," Bailey said. "They run routes based on how you line up and they're fast. They're throwing so much at us it's a little overwhelming at times. You get ready for something and they come up with something else."

New wrinkles

Spurrier emptied the offensive playbook as the Redskins ended minicamp yesterday with several trick plays to stymie a defense that dominated the first two days.

"We've got a whole bunch of new ballplays," Spurrier said. "Everybody thinks your offense stays the same. It doesn't. It's changed. We've got some new little wrinkles that I think are going to help us."

Carlisle countdown

Coaches visited Dickinson College after practice for a one-hour tour. Spurrier joked he just wants "a beta machine that works" during the month-long camp at Carlisle, Pa. beginning July23.

However, it will be a striking contrast from predecessor Marty Schottenheimer's two-a-days in full pads last year. Spurrier said the team will only wear pads once every two days with only one workout on select days.

"We're not going to try to beat our guys up," he said. "We're going to try to get into tip-top shape and pace ourselves so we're physically the best we can be on opening day. Practices will be somewhat intense, but not overly competitive. We ask our players to improve individually. The worst thing a team can do is get your own guys hurt."

Still, Spurrier will open camp with the "Oklahoma Drill," matching a defender against a runner with a blocker in between. The physical matchup was hated by many veterans last year, but Spurrier doesn't see it as heavy contact.

"That's just a little one-on-one headbutting," he said. "Our teams have always had that drill our first day in pads."

After three minicamps and 26 offseason practices, Spurrier is ready for a break. The staff departs tomorrow for a month's vacation.

"I've got a month of stuff planned. All these players have a month planned. We'll be ready when the time comes," Spurrier said. "You grind during the season. Some coaches want to grind year-round, but a lot of guys get tired of football because it's year-round. We want to be fresh once camp starts."


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