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Shade, Terrell still holding on to starting spots

July 5, 2002 Print it

Sam Shade and David Terrell have survived one more offseason with their jobs intact. The two safety positions always seem to be the target of upgrades. So far, though, no one has been able to do the job better than Shade and Terrell.

That is not to say, however, that one or both will still be starters when training camp ends. Terrell faces competition from Ifeanyi Ohalete and rookie Andre Lott.

Ohalete, a big hitter, had a good rookie season and might be the type of player new defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis is looking for at free safety. Terrell is valuable to the team as either a starter or a backup. He's versatile enough to play cornerback and gives the team options when it wants to go with a bigger, stronger defender as the nickel back. Terrell also is a capable and valuable special teams player.

Shade is excellent in run support. The team was able to hide his shortcomings in pass coverage last season, but it's not clear whether Lewis is willing to do that this year. Shade needs to be solid in coverage during the preseason. He's valuable on and off the field, but his salary-cap number always makes him vulnerable to being replaced by a player making less money who comes close to Shade's effectiveness. . . .

If the team is looking for cap space, punter Bryan Barker could be vulnerable, but he might be able to solidify his position because of his ability as a holder.

The holder position could be hotly contested in the preseason. If the backup quarterback, in all likelihood either Danny Wuerffel or Sage Rosenfels, can handle those duties, Barker would become vulnerable. Dan Frantz earns less than Barker.

Special teams coach Mike Stock likes veterans at long snapper and holder. If Stock has his way, Barker will remain on the job. Stock, though, generally loses out to financial concerns. . . .

Donovan Greer's release shows just how tenuous life is in the NFL. He was signed last year with the idea of replacing Darrell Green at cornerback. It turned out that Fred Smoot was better than both players and Greer was not an upgrade over Green. Then Greer suffered a major knee injury that kept him from contributing.

The team will use the salary-cap space created by Greer's release to sign its rookies and perhaps pursue other free agents. . . .

The team is interested in signing defensive tackle Sam Adams, but that would be wise only if he could be obtained for a minimal amount. A better fit would be re-signing either Ben Coleman or Ray Brown to compete at right guard.


Rod Gardner had adequate numbers as a rookie wideout last season, but 208 of his 741 receiving yards came in one game. He has to be more consistent this season. Gardner has improved and is far more comfortable now than he was as a rookie. But he has to prove he has the quickness and speed to play in Spurrier's offense. He also has to be able to adjust quickly to changes made by the defense. If he can, he can be what Michael Westbrook never was for the club.

Jacquez Green never felt he fit into Tampa Bay's system. That should not be a problem now. He's the protypical receiver in a Spurrier offense -- small, quick, shifty and smart. Green has the system he likes; now he must produce.

Kevin Lockett has made progress in the offseason. He, too, has the speed, quickness and smarts to thrive in Spurrier's system. Lockett wants to win a starting job but has been unable to break out of the No. 3 receiver mold the past two seasons.

Rookie Cliff Russell seems to excite Spurrier the most. He has blazing speed, and if he has the hands to match, the team believes it will have an important offensive weapon.

Reidel Anthony is in a curious position. He is an NFL veteran, but he hasn't been effective the past two seasons. He has to prove early that he still is the receiver he was under Spurrier at the University of Florida. If he is, he can win a roster spot. If he's not, he will have an uphill battle to win a job.

Left to battle for their professional careers are Derrius Thompson and Darnerian McCants. Both are leftovers from previous regimes, which doesn't necessarily doom them. Thompson has improved in each of his three seasons in the league. Given the chance, he can be an effective NFL receiver. McCants is surprisingly agile and athletic for his size (6-5). He has good speed once he is under way and in the pattern. His problem is that he's not exceptionally quick coming off the line, which could be too much to overcome in the new offense.

Walter Rasby is strictly a blocking tight end. He'll have a role in the running game, but will be an afterthought in the passing game. Zeron Flemister is a good receiving tight end. If he can perform consistently during training camp, he could become a major part of the offense, especially in the middle of the field.

The team hopes Robert Royal, a rookie, will give them the best of Rasby and Flemister in one package.

For more news on the Redskins, visit the Times-Dispatch's website at www.timesdispatch.com[/Quote]


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it will be interesting to see what effect if any a better run defense from the front seven will have on Sam Shade.

Shade is not fleet afoot, but last year he was counted on to come up and be a fourth linebacker against the run and that tendency to overplay the run may have contributed to his being beaten some in the middle of the field.

Opposing coordinators know when a player is cheating toward the line as Shade was, and audible out to plays to counter that aggressiveness and use it against the player.

If Wynn is a more consistent force to the outside than a one-armed Marco Coleman was last year that will be one plus. The addition of Dotson should upgrade the interior of the line and prevent the kind of 250 yard days Dallas had running against the LDT and LDE spots.

When everyone was talking about leverage and position being important for a player at DT who comes in a little undersized, Dotson is a good case study.

Here is a guy that has survived by doing a lot of the things that eluded Kenard Lang through his stay with the Redskins.

Dotson gets low on his man and uses his positioning to make plays against the run. He also uses his hands to keep linemen from holding him and pulling him to the ground by his jersey as I saw happen a lot to Lang last season.

I still hope the team has a younger guy that can spell Dotson and Wilkinson inside at times (Will Beck?), but am sure that this pairing will do a much better job overall than last season.

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Has Skaggs fallen off the planet?

One of these guys at receiver should make it as a returner and gunner on STs.

THe S Double open is only a lil over a week away and before you know it it will be the Japan Bowl where we all can get an inkling of what we have offensively.

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