- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 1, 2003

Contract talk is never far from anything Washington Redskins cornerback Champ Bailey does this season. And yesterday, after collecting his second career NFC Defensive Player of the Week Award, he poked a little fun at that fact.

“What do I get for that?” Bailey said when approached by media. “Do I get a raise?”

Kidding aside, each of Bailey’s games is scrutinized additionally as being good or bad for his financial future. He and the Redskins agreed to table discussions for an extension just before the season. Talks are scheduled to resume in a month or two, by which point Bailey could have reinforced or undermined his position.

The latter clearly occurred Sept.21 against the New York Giants. Wide receiver Amani Toomer caught a 54-yard touchdown against Bailey, while fellow wideout Nike Hilliard skirted around the Redskins corner in zone coverage for a 5-yard score.

Bailey suffered a fractured wrist and sprained shoulder in that game but didn’t miss practice the following week. On Sunday against New England, after being flagged for pass interference early, he intercepted quarterback Tom Brady and stripped running back Kevin Faulk. He also was credited with seven tackles.

He said yesterday that contract considerations had nothing to do with him overcoming injuries to play.

“A contract never had any influence over me playing,” Bailey said. “I take pride in not missing anything, always showing up and being accountable.”

Teammates appreciate it, too.

“I’ve always heard that the best compliment you can give to a football player is to say that guy’s tough, and he is,” safety Matt Bowen said. “He’s out there hurting. Everybody knew he was hurting. Maybe that’s why they threw at him a little bit. They tested him, and he responded.”

Bailey’s pain continued yesterday. Although he practiced — once again running all drills but avoiding contact — his body apparently wasn’t feeling any better.

“I wish, but it’s not,” he said.

Four miss practice

Four teammates did not join Bailey in practicing. Left guard Dave Fiore (knee), cornerback Rashad Bauman (hamstring) and defensive end Bruce Smith (knee) all were on hand but not participating. Defensive end Renaldo Wynn, whose sprained ankle is not believed to be an issue, was excused for personal reasons.

Smith’s day off was considered a normal rest day. Fiore and Bauman, both listed as questionable on the injury report, expected to return to practice today.

“It felt pretty good today,” said Fiore, who missed all last week with soreness in his knee. “We did a lot of work on it today, so it might be a little fatigued. We did a ton of rehab today to get it stronger. It feels better.”

Said Bauman: “I could have went. We were just going to give it a little extra rest for today. I’ll be out there tomorrow.”

Fiore echoed others in the club by saying he believes he remains the starter over rookie Derrick Dockery. But coach Steve Spurrier continued to be elusive on the subject.

“You know, we don’t really worry about that,” Spurrier said. “I know sometimes you media boys make a big deal about who’s starting. But basically my philosophy is, you start the player who’s the most ready to play. … And if we need to play two guys at the position, we do that.”

Extra points

Rookie cornerback Ade Jimoh said he understood why Spurrier issued such a frank criticism Monday, and he expressed confidence that he can regroup from surrendering two long touchdowns in very limited playing time.

“That’s just the type of coach he is,” Jimoh said. “He’s very passionate about what happens, he’s very passionate about his players. … Even though I’m a rookie, I’m still a professional football player. I have to get myself ready, do a better job of being ready when I come into the game.” …

Darnerien McCants remains the third receiver despite going without a catch against the Patriots, Spurrier said. … Spurrier moved up the practice schedule to eliminate dead time during the middle of the day. Perhaps with that as a factor, players responded with one of their best workouts, linebacker LaVar Arrington said.

“Guys are starting to understand that it takes a certain kind of tempo to get better every time you go out there in practice,” Arrington said. “We had that type of tempo today.” …

Call Eagles coach Andy Reid boring, but don’t say he can’t poke fun at himself. When Washington reporters went silent only a few minutes into Reid’s conference call, the following exchange ensued.

“I can’t believe you guys are out of questions,” Reid said.

“We’re just riveted by your responses, coach,” a reporter replied.

“I know,” Reid said. “I’m so vivacious.”

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