- The Washington Times - Friday, September 6, 2002

For a Tennessee native who spent most of his adult life in sultry Florida, Steve Spurrier has a thing about heat. Yesterday's practice at Redskin Park concluded with a shirtless Spurrier working with rookie quarterback Patrick Ramsey and, the coach said, "on my tan."
And even though Sunday's weather forecast is calling for temperatures in the 80s, Washington's new coach temporarily shelved owner Dan Snyder's 70th-anniversary uniforms. When the Redskins meet Arizona in the season-opener, they will be clad in the home whites and the burgundy, Indian-adorned helmets they wore for most of the past 20 years.
"It's supposed to be 80-something degrees, and white is a little cooler," Spurrier explained. "We like the burgundy uniforms, and we'll wear 'em for just about all the other home games except Dallas because Dallas likes to wear blue [on the road]."
With the next home game next Monday night and the Redskins not returning to Landover after that until Oct. 13, heat shouldn't be an issue again. Washington also will wear the burgundy jerseys on Thanksgiving in Dallas because the Cowboys wear white at home.
LG starter a secret
Offensive line coach Kim Helton said he would not announce a starter at left guard. The decision will be made internally over the next few days; for now, it appears David Loverne remains a bit ahead of Ross Tucker.
"I'm probably going to wait until game time," Helton said. "There's just no advantage to naming a guy. I know it's good for [the media]. Y'all get to write a guy's name down. But if I name Player A's name today and he comes down with the flu tomorrow, then the other guy thinks he's Player B."
Regardless, Helton has said both Loverne and Tucker and possibly Kipp Vickers will play left guard against the Cardinals. Yesterday he added that his preference is not to play Vickers, though that decision will depend on the others' performances.
"You'd like to keep it to two, but the guys have got to play," Helton said. "If we go out there and two guys are playing extremely well, it's a dead issue. And obviously if they're not playing well, we're going to keep searching until we're blocking people."
Although many offensive linemen and coaches say consistent personnel is needed for a steady performance, Helton said keeping the guards fresh actually could be a benefit. Meanwhile, Loverne and Tucker both shrugged off any potential downside from rotating.
"Once the game starts, we should be focused and into it," Loverne said. "It doesn't really bother me one way or the other. I'm just glad to get out there and try to help the team win."
Said Tucker: "You definitely get a feel for the game the more you're in there, but at the same time, when you're not it, you're paying attention to the position you're playing anyway."
Stai set
Right guard Brenden Stai sounds up to speed just a week after being traded from the Detroit Lions.
"It was kind of weird [Wednesday] morning I was trying to think of the offense we ran in Detroit," Stai said. "Not that I wanted to revert in any way, but it's only been a week here. Definitely I'm very much in tune with my surroundings now."
Helton agreed, saying, "He's up there pretty good. You've got to still give him some benefit [of the doubt] when something bad happens. But certainly he's been a nice fit so far."
Stai had just two practices both in shorts before his first game as a Redskin, last week's 28-14 loss to the New England Patriots. In the days since, the eighth-year veteran has been able to adapt at a more reasonable and constructive pace. Aiding him is the fact that the playbook for a regular-season game is trimmed (or focused) in comparison to the preseason.
"Every chance I could [last week], I was looking at that book and not putting it down," Stai said. "Then after the game, [I was] stepping back and saying, 'Wow, that was a pretty big hurdle,' because it was for me. Not only was it physically demanding, but mentally going out on that field it just drains you. You put all that pressure on yourself."
Extra points
Kicker Brett Conway, who was sidelined the last three preseason games with a hip flexor, worked on kickoffs as part of his normal game week routine and continues to have no doubt about being ready for Sunday.
"It felt good," Conway said. "It's going to get stronger the next two weeks. Once I jump right back into it I should be all right."
He added: "I'm just kind of anxious to get back out there. I've been on the sideline, and I haven't played in front of my home crowd."
Helton confirmed that he is somewhat leery about left tackle Chris Samuels' return from an ankle sprain, saying, "He thinks he's fine. If you can be as good as you could be without practicing, we wouldn't practice. He hasn't practiced for awhile, so I assume he's not as good as he'd normally be."
Cornerback Fred Smoot has a new nickname for himself and Champ Bailey. Said Smoot: "I'm Billy the Kid and that's Jesse James. We're out to rob everybody for 20 weeks straight because 16 ain't gonna be enough."

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