- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 9, 2003

We got a little time off after our win over the Jets. There’s always a little more laughing and joking that can happen after a win, and that’s especially nice when you’ve got 10 days until the next game rather than seven. If you’re out of town and you see some people you only see once in awhile and they watched the game, everybody wants to say “Good game” instead of “What happened?” That’s always nice.

A funny story that happened this weekend: Champ Bailey and I were on the same flight out of town. He was going to Detroit to see his brother’s first game (Boss was drafted by the Lions in April). And Martha and I were going up to northern Michigan.

He and his wife were a little late getting to the airport. They were about the last ones on the plane. My wife and I were sitting there. They were about four or five rows ahead of us. Champ was getting his wife situated and getting his daughter situated and trying to put the bags in the overhead compartment.

I told my wife, “Watch this one.” I said real loud, “Is that Champ Bailey?” And we watched all the heads turn. You should have seen everybody. He was standing up by himself. Not a person in the plane standing up. They were closing the doors and telling everybody to sit down. And all of a sudden everybody’s looking for Champ.

His wife turned around and gave us a little dirty look. But she waved because she knew it was all in fun.

Besides the bye week, playing on a Thursday night is about the only time you’ll get a weekend off. It’s really nice physically to have two days off when you’re banging your body around. And mentally it’s better because you get to spend time with family. Mentally recharging your batteries is a huge advantage, especially right after training camp. Somebody somewhere flipped a coin, and we called heads and got it.

If you read the article on me in The Washington Times during training camp, you might be familiar with going to the “Moon,” what Martha and I call our vacation home in northern Michigan. That’s where we went. We listened to the coyotes howl all night long. They kept us up. But it was a beautiful weekend.

We spent a lot of time on the boat with friends. Just enjoyed a little time away from football. I don’t watch a lot of football because I get so much of it during the week. It was good to spend some time with Martha because you don’t get that during the season.

Atlanta is going to be a tough game. They play a 3-4 defense, something we talked about before the Ravens preseason game. The Falcons are a smaller defense in terms of size, but they’re fast all around. Good team speed. And they have a reputation of being extremely hard workers — and it shows. You see their defensive end, Patrick Kerney, running guys down on the other side of the field all the time. Plays like that are all about hustle.

When we came in the locker room after the Jets game, everybody was really happy. Especially winning on the last kick of the game — it has been a long time since that has happened. We’ve lost a lot of games when the other team kicked one in the last minute or when we fumbled the kick in the last minute. But it was such an exciting game, and it kind of permeated through the team.

What we said in the locker room was “this is a great win. And we have a couple days to enjoy it. But let’s remember that this is only one win.” If that’s the only win we get all year, that was a good win but not that good. We need to make sure we use the win to build our confidence but go down the checklist and fix all the things we didn’t do right.

All right, it’s mailbag time. One of you forwarded on a comment from the Sports Illustrated NFL preview, which apparently had a criticism of me. I won’t respond to that directly, but it raises a larger issue of whether we, as players, pay any attention to what’s written or said about us.

I think generally players don’t. While whoever in Sports Illustrated may have said I was “sliding,” people have shown me articles in NFL preview issues where somebody says I’m the No.1 right tackle in the league. I don’t get as excited about that, and I don’t get down about somebody saying something bad.

It’s usually somebody who hasn’t been at practice all day long. It’s somebody who hasn’t been in our building, who hasn’t seen the things we’ve gone through as a team and an organization. It’s one man’s opinion. I have no problem with people saying whatever they want to about me, because I know when the day is done that I gave 100 percent.

Except the last article Jody wrote about me. Then I was crying. Heh, heh.

Another reader wants to know why we, as offensive linemen, are pointing sometimes at the defensive linemen.

We’re basically trying to locate where certain players are. A lot of times, there’s no secrets as to what we’re running in the NFL. Everybody knows what plays are coming, so it doesn’t matter if you call out “I’m double-teaming this guy over here.” You still have to execute.

That happens a lot. It’s just one of those things where it’s better to be on the same page as your teammate than it is not to be on the same page and the other guy doesn’t know what’s coming. If your opponent knows what’s coming, sometimes it matters, and sometimes it doesn’t. But as long as you’re on the same page as your teammate, the odds are still in your favor.

Keep the questions coming at [email protected] See you next week.

Staff writer Jody Foldesy collaborates with Redskins tackle Jon Jansen on this column. It appears every Wednesday.

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