- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 8, 2003

Frustrated over their lack of production and their penchant for committing penalties, members of the Washington Redskins’ offense held a players-only meeting yesterday, team sources said.

The meeting came in the wake of the Redskins’ 27-25 loss to Philadelphia and covered a variety of topics. While the subject of Washington’s league-high 55 penalties was raised, sources said the meeting dealt mostly with more general issues, such as the players’ frustration that they haven’t been more productive on offense.

Sources said the players attempted to set a positive tone during the morning meeting at Redskin Park, the first called by the players since late last season, and reiterated that the team’s record is still 3-2 entering Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay.

Though it is common for players-only meetings to be the product of frustration with coaches, it was unclear whether yesterday’s meeting fell into that category. However, the last two times Washington players met behind closed doors, coaching issues were front and center.

Three weeks into the 2001 season, an 0-3 Redskins team met to voice frustrations over then-coach Marty Schottenheimer. Last November, the players called a meeting following a loss to the Giants, with frustration over coach Steve Spurrier the predominant issue.

Questions about Spurrier’s frequent audible-calling did arise following Sunday’s game, with some players and club officials saying they believe the audibles are in part to blame for the team’s penalty problem.

Through five games, the Redskins have been flagged 55 times, well beyond the rate needed to break the NFL’s single-season record of 158 penalties. Nineteen of the infractions have been false starts, including seven on Sunday.

Spurrier said this week that of his team’s 19 false starts, only seven came on plays in which a late audible was called.

LaVar calls out Sapp

For a few moments yesterday, LaVar Arrington transformed from a mild-mannered NFL player into Hulk Hogan.

During his regular Wednesday gathering with the media, the Redskins linebacker brought up the subject of Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Warren Sapp and went into a macho, camera-mugging tirade worthy of a professional wrestler.

Arrington said he expects Sapp, a notorious trash-talker himself, to venture toward the Redskins’ side of the field during pregame stretching Sunday at FedEx Field. That, Arrington says, would be a serious case of bad form.

“You never let a man run through your stretching line,” he said. “If a team crosses your 50-yard line while you’re stretching, there’s a problem. You don’t let somebody come in to where your whole team is. You don’t let that happen. That’s a blatant show of disrespect. It doesn’t go down like that.”

Arrington said he would also take issue if the Bucs decide to use Sapp on offense, as they have done a few times this year. Lining up as a tight end, the 303-pounder caught his first career touchdown pass two weeks ago against Atlanta.

“That’s disrespectful, too,” Arrington said. “I’m gunning. You come out there, you’ve got some killers on the other side of the ball. Just like you’re a killer when you’re on defense, you’ve got some killers coming after you. I’m gunning for him.”

Fiore back, Thomas sits

Just when the Redskins thought they were getting their full starting offensive line back together, right guard Randy Thomas was forced to miss practice yesterday with a swollen knee.

Thomas, who missed some time during the preseason with a similar injury, said he “tweaked” his other knee during Sunday’s loss at Philadelphia. The Redskins are listing him as questionable for this week’s game, but he is hoping he’ll be able to play.

“I want to get out there and do my thing. I’m not one of those guys who likes to sit out,” Thomas said. “I can’t predict the future. But if you ask me, I’m on the field.”

With Thomas sidelined yesterday, rookie Derrick Dockery took his place alongside the rest of Washington’s first-team offensive line. The Redskins were hoping to move Dockery back to the bench after he struggled Sunday in his second career start in place of left guard Dave Fiore, but he would be forced back into the lineup if Thomas can’t go this week.

Fiore, meanwhile, practiced for the first time in two weeks and reported no problems with his surgically repaired knee. The veteran free-agent signee was inactive for the Redskins’ last two games but is now listed as probable to suit up against the Bucs.

“It feels a lot better,” Fiore said. “It was really nice to get out there, move around and practice, try to get some of the rust off.”

Extra points

Quarterback Patrick Ramsey, who re-sprained his left (non-throwing shoulder) at Philadelphia, practiced fully yesterday and said he felt “great.” Cornerback Rashad Bauman (strained hamstring) sat out practice, as did defensive end Bruce Smith (a standard day off for the 40-year-old). Tight end Byron Chamberlain, who was signed on Monday, participated in his first practice, wearing Zeron Flemister’s old No. 89. …

Spurrier said he had problems with his wireless headset at Philadelphia for the second straight year, forcing him to use a less-reliable unit with a wire. “I went with the wire, and it buzzed in and out a little bit,” he said. “I don’t know if other teams have that problem or not, but we can’t find a cordless microphone that works up there.” …

Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden said that two of his starters on offense are definitely out for Sunday’s game: fullback Mike Alstott (on injured reserve with a neck injury) and wide receiver Joe Jurevicius (sprained knee). Cornerback Brian Kelly (torn pectoral muscle) is doubtful. Receiver Keyshawn Johnson (thigh contusion) didn’t practice yesterday and is “very questionable,” as is middle linebacker Shelton Quarles (fractured forearm).

Staff writer Jody Foldesy contributed to this report.

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