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DP article on "the spirit of 66"


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Redskins rookie understands Jacoby's legacy

By Warner Hessler

Daily Press

Published August 7, 2003

ASHBURN -- Thirteen players have worn jersey No. 66 in the 70-year history of the Washington Redskins, and none have filled it out, or brought it more honor, than offensive lineman Joe Jacoby.

At 6-feet-6 and 330 pounds, he was the largest of the 13 who wore it. And his four Pro Bowl appearances were four more than the other 12 combined.

The 14th guy to wear the number, third-round draft pick Derrick Dockery of Texas, could one day be recognized as the best of them all. At 6-6 and 347 pounds, he is the biggest.

"I'm wearing No. 66, and I know that used to be Joe Jacoby's number," Dockery said. "I feel it's an honor to wear that number because he's a guy who went to so many Pro Bowls, helped establish the Hogs and won (three) Super Bowls."

Like Jacoby in his rookie year, Dockery is practicing occasionally with the first unit at both guards and right tackle, but he is not a starter. But Dockery's starting debut could come as early as this season.

One scenario has Dockery moving in as a starter, allowing left guard Dave Fiore to replace Larry Moore at center. The other has Dockery being the first guy off the bench if right tackle Jon Jansen or either starting guard is injured. Only the last scenario makes sense to offensive line coach Kim Helton right now.

"Derrick is progressing very well," Helton said, "but he hasn't blocked anybody in a game. The only people he has blocked have been in his comfort zone on the practice field. Sometimes young players get in real games and you wonder why they do certain things that they hadn't done in practice. We'll get a better idea of how close he is to being a regular when the bullets get live."

In the meantime, the latest No. 66 is going through his twice-daily practice routines, learning how close he is to being considered starting material, and doing the extras rookies are required to do. He was selected to sing "Happy Birthday" to left tackle Chris Samuels during dinner last Monday, and on several occasions Jansen has ordered him to carry the offensive linemen's shoulder pads to the dressing room after practice.

"With all of the things you have to learn and you have to do, it isn't easy being a rookie," Dockery said. "The guys are cool about it, though. Randy Thomas helped me load the pads on the cart, and (linebacker) LaVar (Arrington) took me to the sidelines after practice one day and told me to come to him if I needed anything.

"Last week (veteran guard) Tre (Johnson) told me to establish good habits while I'm young so that things will come easy when I get older. That's what I'm trying to do. I'm a big man, but defensive linemen in this league are good enough to get leverage and use my size against me. It's hard for somebody to beat me unless I do something wrong."

Dockery started four seasons at Texas, was a consensus All-American his senior year, and was runner-up for the Outland Award, which goes to the nation's best college offensive lineman. He was projected to go anywhere from 14th to 30th in the first round by leading pre-draft publications.

Instead, the Redskins drafted him in the middle of the third round with the 81st pick in the draft. Why?

"He was overweight, out of shape and had a poor workout at the (NFL) Combine," said Vinny Cerrato, the Redskins' director of football operations.

"It was all a part of our plan," Helton said with a smile. "We had him come in out of shape, have a bad workout, drop to the third round and lose millions of dollars. Actually, I think it was more of a case of him not taking the Combine seriously. I believe he heard all of the accolades and didn't believe he had to prove himself again."

If that's what happened, it was a costly decision. Dockery received a $484,000 signing bonus for being taken in the third round. Had he gone even as low as 30th in the first round, his signing bonus would have been about $3 million.

"I did have a bad workout, and I know I didn't perform well," Dockery said, "but I also got sick a couple days before the workout. I can't worry about that now, though. I always say that the cream rises to the top, and I'm prepared to do it again.

"I have size, and I have always done a good job of mentally picking up assignments. Even at Texas I was able to step in as a true freshman and pick things up quickly and play. I'm happy, but not surprised, to be getting work with the first unit. I'm still making some mistakes, but I'm also learning quickly."

Quickly enough to have already established himself as the first offensive lineman off the bench.

"As backups, you earn the right to compete for playing time in practice," Helton said. "As starters, you earn the right to keep your jobs by playing in games."

If there's a drop-off in performance by one of the starters, or an injury, Redskins followers will see big No. 66 out there again.

Warner Hessler can be reached at 247-4648 or by e-mail at whessler@dailypress.com

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Sounds like he's coming along....I think we'll see him in the starting lineup this season sometime, especially if Moore keeps making the check-offs at the line until the snap like he did last year.....I recall Spurrier getting pretty frustrated with those constant check-offs Moore did, and I'm pretty sure that he pointed those out as one of the reasons we had so many false starts last season.

Hopefully, that will be the reason that we see Dockery this season, and not an injury to one of the starters.

Good post!


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