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Candidate Ready To Emerge From Faulk's Shadow


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Canidate Ready To Emerge From Faulk's Shadow

Jim Ducibella

The Virginian-Pilot

ASHBURN, Va. - Trung Canidate has something to prove to the Washington Redskins. Safety Matt Bowen may inadvertently have helped him take a giant first step in that direction the other day.

Bowen's headlong crash into Canidate during what were supposedly noncontact drills sent Canidate flying in a scene repeated over and over on sports newscasts and ESPN. The way he calmly regained his feet and returned to the huddle, casually flipping the ball to someone on the sidelines, sent a message to the team that he was tougher than advertised.

"He held onto the ball, and he got right back up," offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said. "I've seen guys take a hit like that and not get up. I was excited. It was good for me to see something like that because I could evaluate how he handled the situation."

There are two questions the Redskins are trying to answer about Canidate, whom they acquired from St. Louis during the offseason for guard David Loverne and a fourth-round pick. Is he tough enough to be a full-time back? And can he hang onto the football?

Jackson got some more answers Thursday. Canidate, following superb blocking by his line, plowed 3 yards up the middle into the end zone during a goal-line drill against the first-unit defense.

There are more tests to come, but there is reason to believe that Canidate, a former first-round pick, can have the impact the Redskins desire. There were bursts of that in St. Louis, where he spent most of three seasons watching Marshall Faulk gallop up and down the field.

"He's a smart guy who understands X's and O's completely, which enhances his chances of being a great player," Canidate said. "Being able to watch how he went about his business can only help me. It was a blessing."

In 2001, Canidate started two games while Faulk was hurt, ringing up 441 yards in 78 carries, a 5.7-yard average. His other two seasons, Canidate rushed for a combined 54 yards.

"When I was in St. Louis, I thought I seized the most of the opportunities I had, I just didn't have very many," Canidate said. "Here, this is a better opportunity for me to show what I can do on a consistent basis. I'm as anxious to show what I can do as they are to see it. Coming here was a change I wasn't ready for, but I embraced it and I came here ready for work."

Canidate is track-star fast running in a straight line. He can outrun defenders to get around the corner. He's better than average at catching the ball out of the backfield. If he has other moves, he hasn't shown them, and he carries a slight stigma as a fumbler, with three in almost 100 career carries.

Jackson's dilemma is the most intriguing of camp. With the departure of Stephen Davis, he has no proven, dependable running back. But he has players who have shown flashes.

Kenny Watson filled in for Davis last year and ran for more than 500 yards and caught 32 passes. Ladell Betts, last year's second- round pick, came on strong at the end of the year and looked sharp in early drills until injuring his elbow. He seems to have the best combination of inside power and outside speed.

And then there's Chad Morton. The former Jets kick-return specialist is fearless inside or out, can hide behind Washington's massive offensive line and has enough moves to be an asset in certain situations.

"They all bring something different to the table," Jackson said.

Coach Steve Spurrier says he can envision playing all of his tailbacks - but doesn't see how he can keep four of them. Others with the organization insist that if all four are good enough, a way can be found.

At the moment, Jackson knows what he's got in Watson and Betts. He's still learning about Canidate.

"He has a chance to be a very good tailback," Jackson said. "We believe in spreading the defense and getting our players into favorable match-ups. Trung gives us a chance to win a lot of those match-ups."

THIS GUY HAS ME PSYCHED......HTTR!!!!!:notworthy :notworthy

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Trung Canidate IS almost too fast to be true. If there's some kickass to go along with that speed, he could be insane. But one thing I learned well when I travelled. The local papers here are awefully rosey this time of year. I'm waiting for the Carolina game. That D-line is a great line. That will be a good test for Canidate.

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