- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 24, 2002

The Washington Redskins are considering starting Tre Johnson in his old spot at right guard on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, just six days after he rejoined his former team.

Johnson, a 1999 Pro Bowl selection, worked with the second team yesterday during his first practice with the Redskins in more than two years and his first NFL workout since he was cut by the Cleveland Browns on Aug.31. He impressed the coaches enough that they might play him instead of fill-in Wilbert Brown against the Colts.

Brenden Stai, who started the first five games at right guard, missed Sunday's 30-9 loss at Green Bay because of tendinitis in his left knee and yesterday was only able to run on the sideline.

"Tre was fun to watch," offensive line coach Kim Helton said. "There's a heck of a player in that body. Mentally, he's into all the things that you're supposed to do. But I don't know that physically he'll be in condition to be able to help us on Sunday. It might be necessary [for him to start], but it certainly wouldn't be fair to him. But with our injury situation the way it possibly could be, sometimes you have to do things that aren't fair."

If Johnson starts and plays well, the Redskins would consider shifting Stai to left guard where David Loverne and Brown have both struggled even though the eight-year veteran hasn't played there and Johnson has. Stai bristled at the idea of switching sides.

"I wouldn't try to make Tre do both [guard spots]," Helton said. "Our right guard is hurt, [so] he'll do right first. You can't sit around waiting for guys to come back. You have to try to go play and win. If we get Brenden back in the next week or so, then we've got a pleasant problem. Right now, we're kind of in a state of emergency."

Johnson said he is leery of getting back on the field so quickly in a new system after seven weeks off and after playing in just seven games over the past two seasons, each of which was cut short by knee injuries

"If I knew the system and just had to get in shape [or vice versa], it wouldn't be that big a deal," said Johnson, who seems at least 30 pounds over his listed weight of 326. "But the combination of the two is going to be a bear.

"Ideally, Jacksonville [on Nov.[ThSp]10] would be when I would be at my peak, but if they want me to play Sunday, I will," Johnson said. "I might need somebody next to me doing the ventriloquist act: 'Hey, where are we going [on this play]?' You want to be able to react without thinking, and right now I'm thinking about everything before I make a move, which makes you a little hesitant off the ball. But it's wonderful to be back playing and playing for the Redskins. It's good to be home. What more could you ask for?"

Right guard isn't the line's only spot in flux. Pro Bowl left tackle Chris Samuels, who left the Green Bay game with a sprained left ankle and a neck stinger, watched practice in sweatpants as Alex Sulfsted, who has never started a game, took his place.

"My ankle feels a little better walking on it, but I haven't tried to run on it yet and my neck's a little sore," Samuels said. "I'm trying to rest up and be smart about it. Right now I don't know where I stand as far as playing, but I've been sucking it up this long [through previous injuries to his ankle, groin and thigh], so I'll try to do it again. I'm pretty sure I'll be out there."

Jansen still talking

Right tackle Jon Jansen did not accept the six-year,$24 million contract proposal the Redskins submitted Tuesday and now is waiting for the team to submit another offer to extend his expiring deal, sources close to the talks said.

Jansen's camp wanted more upfront money than the Redskins were offering, sources said. The proposal included a $5.5million signing bonus, but only $1million of it was payable immediately. Jansen could have lost the remainder of it, an option bonus due in the spring, if he were injured this season.

Thus, there was little reward for staying out of free agency, where Jansen might be able to net a deal similar to the game's highest-paid right tackles ($7million to $8million to sign, $5million average annual value).

Extra protection

Four off-duty policemen who are part of the FedEx Field security force on game days monitored practice because Redskin Park is in the type of wooded location the sniper seems to prefer.

"It's unfortunate that we're in these times, but I think all the players appreciated it," Spurrier said.

Tucker a Cowboy

Guard Ross Tucker, who was cut Monday to make room for 1999 Pro Bowl guard Johnson, was signed by Dallas yesterday.

"I grew up an Eagles fan and all my friends are asking me, 'Are you going to play for all the teams we hate?'" Tucker said after collecting his gear at Redskin Park.

Staff writer Jody Foldesy contributed to this report.

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