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Good bits from the Post

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I don't usually paste entire articles here, but there are a lot of good little bits of info in this article.

Too Much Shuffling Could Net Poor Hand

By Liz Clarke

Washington Post Staff Writer

Monday, August 27, 2001; Page D05

Washington Redskins Coach Marty Schottenheimer woke up at 5:30 a.m. yesterday, his mind racing with myriad scenarios of how he might configure his offensive line for Thursday's preseason finale against the New England Patriots.

With left tackle Chris Samuels questionable, he is leaning toward keeping Matt Campbell at Samuels' spot for a second consecutive game, even though Campbell is projected at guard during the regular season. He expects to give 12-year veteran Dave Szott another turn at left guard. And he wants to see how rookie David Brandt, who has impressed the coach at left guard, fares at right guard.

But the pitfalls of too much shuffling, as Schottenheimer has learned over 40 years in football, is creating weaknesses where none existed before.

"What you want to try to avoid doing," Schottenheimer explained, "is making two changes to solve one problem."

It has been like this for much of the last month, with injuries to key players dictating the line-up -- and to a lesser extent, influencing the efficiency -- of Redskins practices.

The passing game, for example, has been difficult to evaluate with backups Todd Husak and Sage Rosenfels handling most of the snaps in training camp while starter Jeff George nursed a case of tendinitis.

"With the quarterback thing going the way it is -- with Jeff out and all -- it's hard to get into a rhythm, and that's my biggest concern as we embark on this opening of the season," Schottenheimer said. "In the perfect world, you move into the season, you've got everybody in place. Of course, that doesn't happen in the NFL anymore. But we've got a new system. We're trying to integrate all these different people into these roles. And we're going to get it done. We're trying to expedite it as much as we can."

So while other NFL teams use their final preseason game to fine-tune and polish their starting lineup, the Redskins look toward Thursday's game at New England as a diagnostic tool. Among the positions with questions:

Wide receiver: Rookie Rod Gardner has caught just one ball in the preseason, but has made some spectacular grabs in practice and is vying with Kevin Lockett for the start alongside Michael Westbrook.

Cornerback: It remains a three-way battle, Schottenheimer said yesterday, among veteran Darrell Green, Donovan Greer and rookie Fred Smoot.

Guard: While Szott knows Schottenheimer's offensive calls as well as any Redskin, having played the bulk of his career for the coach in Kansas City, he'll have to earn a starting job along the offensive line, where the competition includes Campbell, Mookie Moore and Ben Coleman.

Free safety: Despite last week's acquisition of Keith Lyle, David Terrell will start Thursday and holds the edge to start the season-opener against San Diego. "I'm very pleased with his progress," Schottenheimer said of Terrell. "Is he where he needs to be? I'm not sure that he is. But I'm very pleased."

Ten Are Cut

The Redskins released 10 players following this afternoon's practice, two days before the NFL's mandatory cut-down to 65 players.

The players released were: LB Cornelius Anthony, RB Robert Arnaud, TE Steve Brominski, P Dan Frantz, WR Latef Grim, OT Tam Hopkins, OT Trey Langley, TE Ivan Mercer, WR-KR Winston October and DT Eric Stevenson.

In cutting Arnaud, the Redskins avoided having to surrender a seventh-round pick in the 2002 college draft, which was part of the terms of the trade that acquired Arnaud from New Orleans.

Bailey Doesn't Practice

Cornerback Champ Bailey was held out of practice yesterday with a bruised foot. Given how well Bailey has played in the preseason, Schottenheimer said he wouldn't mind if Bailey didn't play Thursday. The coach favors erring on the side of caution with Bailey's injury and, if Bailey sits, that would give coaches more opportunity to evaluate the other cornerbacks.

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Mr October's release gives our man Skaggs an opportunity to be the 5th receiver/special teamer.

Looks like as I suspected that the Defensive secondary will be the area we will hang onto until the final cuts


Take a sip of the Marty Kool Aid and Believe

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Assuming Samuels, Jansen, Raymer, Szott and Campbell remain healthy the Redskins line should be very good after the first several weeks.

They are going to be inconsistent out of the gate as they are learning to play together. But the advantage is that all are veteran performers.

The one godsend for the Redskins is they play their first two games against teams that are having line problems themselves in terms of injuries and subpar performances.

That is why the QB position becomes so critical. A healthy Jeff George with the semblance of his old accuracy can get us 2 wins with some gritty play here at the opening bell of the season against the San Diego and Arizona.

If this team is hoping to get to 9 or 10 wins it HAS to win BOTH of these games.

I really don't care the scores, whether it is 13-10 or 7-6.

As I said, I think by Game 4 or 5 overall play will pick up to a good pace to compete with the better teams.

But we need to buy time and the way to do that is for our skill players on offense and defense to make enough plays to carry us beyond the early uncertainty.

That means big plays. Especially from Bailey, Arrington and Smith on defense.

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