- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 5, 2006

Guard Kili Lefotu, 230th overall, and linebacker Kevin Simon, 250th overall, were the last two players selected by the Washington Redskins in April’s NFL Draft. With few jobs open on a team that reached the second round of the 2005 playoffs, Lefotu and Simon are far from locks to remain once the roster is cut to 53 players in September. So today’s controlled scrimmage with the Baltimore Ravens at noon at FedEx Field will be big for them.

“This scrimmage isn’t about scheme or game-planning,” new associate head coach-offense Al Saunders said. “It’s a chance to see our guys for the first time in a full-speed, game-like atmosphere.”

While all the players on offense are adapting to Saunders’ scheme, which is slightly different from that of coach Joe Gibbs, the newcomers on defense are behind because they don’t know assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams’ system the way the veterans do.

“I want to see them play against somebody they don’t know, formations they don’t know, personnel they don’t know, because that’s where you see how a guy reacts,” linebackers coach Dale Lindsey said. “It’s important, but you can’t say one scrimmage and that’s it.”

Nor will strong showings today mean that Lefotu and Simon will advance from third-string at right guard and middle linebacker, respectively.

“I’m looking forward to going against different guys,” said the 6-foot-5, 315-pound Lefotu, who started 37 games at Arizona. “I told my teammates sophomore year that if I could get one play in the NFL, I wanted to hit [Ravens linebacker] Ray Lewis. I don’t think it will happen because we’ll be going against [Baltimore’s third-stringers], but I’ll still be on the same field with him.”

The 5-10, 235-pound Simon, who started 29 games at Tennessee, would like a similar shot at fellow former Volunteer Jamal Lewis.

“Being star-struck is over and gone,” Simon said. “We’re all competitors, and we’re ready for whoever they put out there.”

Neither Saunders nor Lindsey expects that much today.

“Kili is a guy we’ll look at very carefully,” Saunders said. “He has good physical skills. That’s why we got him here. We think he can play in this league, but he’s got a long, long way to go.”

Though the Redskins need backup offensive linemen, they have more options for reserve linebackers.

“Kevin has a lot on his plate because he has to make all the calls,” Lindsey said. “That’s one thing I’d like to see him improve on. I’d also like to see him be a little more physical.”

Gibbs said the scrimmage is “a good evaluation tool” and is especially looking forward to watching his receivers and defensive backs in the 7-on-7 drills.

Rogers ailing

Second-year cornerback Carlos Rogers is the only starter not expected to play today. Rogers missed the past two days with back spasms he suffered during practice Wednesday.

“I never had trouble with my back before,” said Rogers, who missed four games with biceps and ankle injuries as a rookie. “I made a break on a ball and I felt something jerk. It’s better today, but it’s not 100 percent.”

Gibbs reacts to new rules

Gibbs is rarely happy with the officials, but he likes some of the rules changes that were presented to the players last night by NFL referee Gene Steratore.

“I’ve always been for instant replay and it’s for the obvious reversal,” Gibbs said of the new ability for coaches to challenge down-by-contact calls. “None of us want to see the wrong team win a playoff game because of the wrong call.”

However, Gibbs still wants the infamous “Tuck Rule” changed.

“It’s the Nightmare Rule, not the Tuck Rule,” Gibbs said. “We always have a discussion about that. We felt we had a good case with that last year [in Denver], but they never seem to change it.”

Gibbs’s team was 6-1 when it had fewer penalties than its opponent last year, and 3-6 when it had more.

“Toward the middle of last season, we started doing a much better job on turnovers and penalties, and that’s when we started winning games,” Gibbs said. “Part of being smart is knowing [the rules] because it’s a complicated game.”

Staff writer Ryan O’Halloran contributed to this article.

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