- The Washington Times - Monday, August 22, 2005

Washington Redskins defensive tackle Joe Salave’a smiled and used the word “psychotic.” Defensive end Renaldo Wynn said he never has seen anything in a pregame locker room quite like it.

What right guard Randy Thomas does and says before a game isn’t printable in a family newspaper. Or maybe even in Playboy.

“The first time I heard it, I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’” Wynn said about the histrionics, which mostly come in the form of screams, raps and profanities. “Randy gets so emotional with the explicit lyrics and crying, the whole nine yards. He wants everybody to hear it. Some guys probably want to slap him a little bit. Other guys enjoy it. It doesn’t bother me. He gives me a little comic relief.”

The routine isn’t a laughing matter to Thomas.

“I’ve really got to get my mind right before a game,” Thomas said. “I’ve got to prepare mentally to go defeat my opponent one-on-one. I get a little sweaty, a little wound-up before a game. My heart gets racing. I’ve had coaches tell me not to use so much profanity, but we’re grown men in there. That’s what gets me going.”

Although Thomas occasionally tones down his act — “it takes a lot of energy out of me” — he won’t change if asked, even by a coach.

And any such request won’t come from his current position coach, Joe Bugel.

“Randy can talk any way he wants in the locker room because he can back up what he says,” Bugel said. “Randy is very serious on the field. The game’s important to him. He’s a very focused guy. I love Randy because he wants to be coached hard. Sometimes I’ll be all over him like a cheap suit and he begs for more. He’s very thick skinned. He wants to be constructively criticized.”

The Redskins have been criticized for overpaying Thomas with a seven-year, $28million deal to leave the New York Jets in March 2003. At the time, Thomas was supposed to be on the verge of Pro Bowl status. Instead, he has been part of an offense that ranked in the bottom third of the league and allowed 81 sacks as the Redskins won just 11 games the last two seasons.

All the linemen hated the pass-happy system of coach Steve Spurrier in 2003, and Bugel said his “Dirtbags” never were quite right last year because of various offseason surgeries and the subsequent loss of right tackle Jon Jansen to a torn Achilles tendon in August. Typically, the 29-year-old Thomas doesn’t buy any of that.

“I didn’t have one of my better years last year,” Thomas said. “There were a couple of technique breakdowns. I just didn’t perform up to my expectations. As a group, we didn’t play well. I worked on my weaknesses this offseason, my balance and my footwork. I’m preparing myself to be the best because I want to be around for a long time.”

Bugel believes 2005 will be much different, especially with Jansen back and newcomer Casey Rabach at center.

“I always had a lot of respect for Randy, and he’s lived up to everything I had heard,” Rabach said. “He’s one of the hardest workers and a tremendous athlete. It seems like he does everything right.”

Bugel wouldn’t go that far, but he did say that the 6-foot-5, 310-pound Thomas is in the nasty mold of one of his favorite players, Russ Grimm, a Pro Bowl guard for the Redskins from 1983 to 1986.

“Randy’s a very powerful guy,” Bugel said. “Like Russ, he can punch you and hurt you. Randy has great vision. He’s also a great pulling guard. He’s one of the better players I’ve been around.”

But Thomas won’t be satisfied even if he makes his first Pro Bowl.

“I want to be so close to winning a Super Bowl, not so close to making a Pro Bowl,” said Thomas, whose only playoff victory came with the 2002 Jets. “All I care about is winning and having the respect of my teammates and my coaches.”

That and the freedom to let loose in the locker room.

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