- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 9, 2002

The first in what is expected to be a long line of suitors for Washington Redskins defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis has emerged: Michigan State University.
A highly placed contingent in the Spartans program is interested in hiring Lewis to replace Bobby Williams, sources close to the situation said yesterday. However, a search committee is still being formed, and interviews probably won't begin for several weeks.
There is no specific connection between Lewis and Michigan State. Lewis is viewed as someone who can instill toughness and a successful defensive scheme to a top-tier program that has solid talent, sources said. It also helps that he is black because there is pressure being applied to replace Williams, who is black, with another black coach.
Lewis did not comment, but those close to him say his main career concern is to set up his family, in terms of both finances and where they live. He apparently believes he is qualified enough to be an NFL head coach, but he isn't bent on landing such a post. In terms of college head coaching, he views it as a possibility but not a firm desire.
Lewis regards Michigan State as just another school that might be interested in hiring him, sources said. How the Redskins are performing several weeks from now, when the Spartans' search grows serious, could have a significant influence in how seriously he considers this or other potential offers.
Davis will not play
Running back Stephen Davis will miss a second straight game because of his sprained right knee, he and coach Steve Spurrier said.
"It's still too painful," Davis said. "It made a lot of progress, considering what was happening last week. It's [still] day-to-day."
Kenny Watson, who rushed for 110 yards in his first NFL start last weekend at Seattle, is set to start again. He will be backed by rookie Ladell Betts.
Spurrier again will use Davis' spot to activate a sixth wide receiver. Newly signed Willie Jackson will be worked into the rotation but probably not in a prominent role.
Stai gets another opinion
Guard Brenden Stai is set to miss a fourth straight game after an evaluation by Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., showed a slight tear in his quadriceps tendon. Stai hopes he will be able to play next week against the New York Giants.
"It's a form of tendinitis," Stai said. "It's what [NBA star] Vince Carter has got. As a matter of fact, I was hanging out with him yesterday because he was there, too. Mine's a little worse than his. It's called 'jumper's knee.'"
Wilbert Brown again will start in Stai's right guard spot, with Tre Johnson continuing to work his way in. Johnson said his conditioning has improved since he signed two weeks ago, but he added that it might take another month to be in peak shape.
"It's still a long way to go," Johnson said. "I think it'll take the rest of this month for me to be ideal. Whatever our first game in December is [Dec.[ThSp]8 against the Giants], I'll be rolling by then."
In other injury news, reserve defensive lineman Carl Powell (groin) will not play.
Smoot stands out
Cornerback Fred Smoot has held up against many of opponents' top wide receivers, recording a team-high 16 passes defensed.
Last year defensive coordinator Kurt Schottenheimer used Pro Bowl corner Champ Bailey to cover opponents' top wideouts, but Lewis this season leaves Bailey in set positions, including the slot on third down. As a result, it seems, many opponents have shifted their top wideouts away from Bailey and lined them up against Smoot or veteran Darrell Green.
Bailey, who is second on the team with nine breakups, is impressed with how Smoot has performed under that pressure.
"That's the thing," Bailey said. "Last year he didn't have that No.1 guy. But he's seeing him a lot more because I'm mixing it up in the middle and everything. He is getting that action that he wants. He's stepping up and making plays."
Smoot started the season a bit cold and continues to give up plays here and there. But he has done a good job of shrugging off completed passes and succeeded in the crucial task of taking away the deep ball.
"If you come out and beat me the first play of the game, should I be worried about that?" Smoot said. "No, I can't be worried because I've got four more quarters of ball. I can't worry about you catching a 20-yard slant route. It's done. It's over. Nobody's perfect in my position. If you see them, point them out to me and tell them to teach me something, please."

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