- The Washington Times - Monday, October 6, 2003

Too heavy for the Minnesota Vikings, tight end Byron Chamberlain was just right for the Washington Redskins.

Chamberlain signed with the Redskins yesterday after he was cut last week by Minnesota. The Vikings hoped he would return from a four-game suspension close to his weight in 2001, when he made the Pro Bowl with 57 catches.

That year Chamberlain weight about 242 pounds, but he was close to 270 when he reported to the Vikings after missing four games for testing positive for ephedra.

Washington, which has just six catches from the tight end position, didn’t mind he weighed 264 pounds at Friday’s workout. And the Redskins are willing to let him play at whatever weight suits him. He has told club officials he would like to be in the 250- to 255-pound range.

Chamberlain’s Pro Bowl background, decent conditioning in the workout, solid agility and excellent hands led Washington to sign him to a two-year deal worth just more than $1.5million, NFL sources said. The contract included a $200,000 signing bonus and sizeable incentives if he returns to the Pro Bowl.

“I’m feeling really good,” Chamberlain said at Redskin Park after a cram session on Washington’s offense. “I’m not where I want to be conditioning-wise. There’s no way to simulate what you would do in practice or a game. But given a week or two, I’ll be OK.”

The Redskins need him to be ready Sunday against Tampa Bay because his signing led to the release of Zeron Flemister, who missed two games with an Achilles’ tendon strain and had just one catch. Robert Royal, with five catches, remains.

“[Chamberlain has] got to be ready to go,” tight ends coach Lawson Holland said. “We’ve got a lot of two-tight-end formations. It’s my job to make sure he’s ready.”

Coach Steve Spurrier’s offense doesn’t feature tight ends but there is optimism Chamberlain will get some opportunities here. However, the coach wasn’t in the mood to talk about what the signing might do for his offense.

“I don’t know what it does for us,” Spurrier said. “We haven’t thrown a whole bunch of touchdown passes this year to anyone.”

Ramsey healing

Quarterback Patrick Ramsey spoke in a rasp and looked like he had taken a beating the day before, which of course he had. But Ramsey, who re-sprained his left shoulder and picked up an assortment of other bruises in the loss at Philadelphia, was deemed fundamentally sound and didn’t expect to miss any practice time this week.

“I’m sore, but I’ll be fine,” Ramsey said. “I’ll be ready to go.”

Cornerback Champ Bailey will get an independent evaluation on his fractured wrist and sprained shoulder in Atlanta today, agent Jack Reale said. But Reale added that “the problem seems to be solving itself,” because Bailey’s injuries appear to be healing fairly well on their own.

Bailey intends to practice all week, as he has been doing, and even upgrade the amount of contact he’s seeing in practice. He was disappointed with his bump-and-run coverage Sunday, and he attributed that to avoiding contact in practice the past two weeks.

X-rays on the thumb of linebacker Jessie Armstead on Sunday were negative. He’ll practice with his thumb taped up.

Running back Ladell Betts said his shoulder isn’t sprained badly and that he should be fine.

Extra points

Tackle Jon Jansen disputed a report there was joking in Sunday’s postgame locker room. Said Jansen: “I really don’t know who that came from or what that came from. I didn’t see a whole lot of that going on.”

Added Spurrier: “I would hope that our players aren’t gigglers after a loss, but I can’t guarantee it. I wasn’t aware of it. I didn’t see it.” …

Spurrier declined comment on rookie lineman Derrick Dockery, who struggled in his second start at left guard. Dockery, who was beaten by Hollis Thomas on consecutive third-quarter plays and drew three penalties, also did not comment as he left Redskin Park. …

The release of Flemister followed last December’s three-year, $2.4 million extension, which included a $350,000 signing bonus. Negotiating an extension with Flemister was particularly dubious because he wasn’t even scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent.

Flemister said he’s still bothered by bone chips and a slight fracture in his heel, which he hopes to rehabilitate while he waits to sign with another team. …

Defensive end Regan Upshaw claimed his personal foul for retaliating against Eagles tackle Jon Runyan was bogus.

“He gave me a shove,” Upshaw said. “I shoved him back. And he fell. It was during a whistle. There’s nothing dirty about that. The ref didn’t even see it. He just threw the flag, and then was like, ‘What the [heck] happened?’ ”

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