- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 6, 2003

Redskins notes

When Byron Chamberlain signed a two-year, $1.3million contract with the Washington Redskins on Oct.6, the former Pro Bowl tight end figured his new employer was welcoming him with open arms.

Four weeks later, Chamberlain is trying to figure out why the Redskins are treating him like he doesn’t exist.

After hauling in three passes in a surprising debut and getting the starting nod a week later, Chamberlain was mysteriously made inactive for last Sunday’s game at Dallas. Although coach Steve Spurrier said yesterday he did not know whether Chamberlain would suit up Sunday against Seattle, all signs point to his spending another game in street clothes.

Asked if he expected to be active this week, Chamberlain replied, “I have no earthly idea. I can only control what I control. I don’t make those decisions, so I don’t sweat it and I don’t worry about it.”

Zeron Flemister, who was released following Chamberlain’s signing last month but returned after Robert Royal suffered a season-ending hip injury, once again is in line to start. Rookie Kevin Ware, who was signed off the practice squad last week and played in place of Chamberlain, remains on the active roster and figures to dress again Sunday.

That would seem to leave Chamberlain, a Pro Bowl player with Minnesota in 2001, on the outside. He said he’s become very comfortable with Washington’s offense and is close to being in ideal physical shape after serving a four-game suspension for using ephedra.

“I’ve still got a little work to do, but I’m at a place right now where I feel I’m ready to contribute and play,” Chamberlain said. “Mentally, I think I have a grasp of the offense where I don’t think I’ll be out there with my head swimming.”

That apparently isn’t enough to sway the Redskins coaching staff, which has soured on Chamberlain since his arrival.

“I didn’t know a lot about him before he got here,” Spurrier said. “But he was available. We thought he would help us, but he hasn’t done that much to help us so far. Maybe we haven’t used him much either, who knows?”

Canidate, Simon ready

Washington’s ever-changing running backs corps likely will be composed of Trung Canidate and newly signed John Simon.

Canidate, who started the first six games of the season before missing the last two with a high ankle sprain, practiced again yesterday and should be fine to start against the Seahawks. But with backups Ladell Betts (fractured forearm), Chad Morton (high ankle sprain) and Sultan McCullough (broken hand) all likely out, the Redskins will turn to Simon as their No.2 tailback.

“Trung’s here and John Simon, our new player, has picked up the offense to where he’s ready to play some,” Spurrier said. “Sultan’s got a broken hand, so John Simon is scheduled to play quite a bit, or could be.”

Simon, who signed Tuesday, spent last season with Tennessee, rushing nine times for 18 yards and a touchdown and catching 16 passes for 167 yards and three touchdowns. He joins the Redskins at an awkward time, with so much controversy swirling around the team, but seems to be taking it all with a sense of humor.

“Actually, I haven’t heard about any of it. And I really don’t want to hear about any of it,” Simon said. “Everything, as far as I know, is smooth sailing here.”

TV piling on

The broadcast crew from Fox Sports yesterday continued to pile on the woes of the Redskins, just as they did in large helpings during the team’s loss Sunday at Dallas. In a conference call with reporters, analysts Jimmy Johnson, Cris Collinsworth and Troy Aikman predictably focused much of their attention to the beleaguered offensive line.

“Coming off a bye week, having that extra time, I expected a lot more adjustments to the pass protections,” Collinsworth said. “There are things you can do, ways to get around these protection issues. But there just hasn’t been a whole lot of change.”

Sunday’s broadcast of the game, one in which the Redskins’ pass rush was likened to that of a high school team, garnered national attention for the ferocity of the criticism. Four days later, no remorse was evident. In fact, Johnson said he remains upset with owner Dan Snyder’s firing of Norv Turner, a close friend of Johnson’s, in 2000 when the coach was 7-6 and the team was still in playoff contention.

“I don’t think we were rough on them. We were being honest,” Aikman said.

Despite the team’s ongoing struggles, each member of the Fox crew said he would be surprised if coach Steve Spurrier left after the season.

“If this team is going to be successful, you’ll need to have some stability at that [head coaching] spot,” Aikman said.

To that end, Johnson yesterday said he has no plans to leave Fox for another coaching slot, a position he has publicly articulated for weeks as rumors of impending changes in Atlanta and Washington have festered.

Extra points

Defensive coordinator George Edwards said a decision has not been made yet whether to start Bruce Smith or Regan Upshaw at right defensive end. Smith, however, believes he will after being benched last week for the first time since 1986.

“From my understanding, that situation has been taken care of,” said Smith, who has missed practice the last two days with a sprained thumb. “My attention is focused on the Seattle Seahawks, and if I’m healthy I probably will start.” …

Along with Betts, Morton and Smith, center Larry Moore (sprained foot), cornerbacks Fred Smoot (bruised sternum) and Rashad Bauman (sprained ankle) and defensive tackle Jermaine Haley (sprained shoulder) all did not practice yesterday. Betts, Morton and Moore are all doubtful for Sunday. …

LaVar Arrington has been credited with a sack of Dallas quarterback Quincy Carter in last week’s game. After reviewing game tapes, Redskins coaches believed Arrington deserved his second sack of the season because Carter slid to avoid getting tackled by the linebacker. The Elias Sports Bureau, which handles all official stats for the NFL, agreed and awarded the sack to Arrington. (Originally, it was deemed a “team” sack.)

Staff writer Eric Fisher contributed to this report.

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