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WP: Royal Likely to Start at Tight End

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Royal Likely to Start at Tight End

By Mark Maske

Washington Post Staff Writer

Thursday, August 14, 2003; Page D07

The Washington Redskins probably will move Robert Royal ahead of Zeron Flemister as their starter at tight end for Saturday night's preseason game against the New England Patriots at FedEx Field, Coach Steve Spurrier said yesterday.

"I believe that Robert Royal could start," Spurrier said. "I haven't gone over exactly who our starters will be yet. But he's been running with the first group, so he most likely will be the starter. He's just caught the ball a little better, blocked consistently, just played a little bit better. It's pretty close, but he played a little bit better than Zeron."

Flemister and fullback Bryan Johnson cost the Redskins first downs in last Saturday's loss at Carolina by dropping passes from quarterback Patrick Ramsey. Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said Tuesday that Flemister and Johnson know they have to produce to keep their starting jobs. Johnson, who is competing with Rock Cartwright, had another drop during yesterday's practice. But Spurrier said both fullbacks probably will continue to share playing time into the regular season.

"There's not a huge difference," Spurrier said.

Trotter Scheduled to Play

Middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter said he is scheduled to make his first appearance of the preseason Saturday. Trotter and two other players coming off knee surgeries, defensive ends Bruce Smith and Renaldo Wynn, did not make the trip to Carolina.

"It's a gauge to see where you're at," Trotter said. "I'm definitely taking this seriously, especially since I haven't had a chance to get out there. I'm looking forward to it."

Trotter said he thinks he's "85 or 90 percent" healthy after having his 2002 season ended when he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament during a loss at Dallas on Thanksgiving.

"It's about getting my legs back under me," he said. "We've been going hard every day. Once the season starts, I'll only be going one practice a day. I think the rest will really help me.'' . . . The Redskins apparently were making no attempts to re-sign Dan Wilkinson yesterday as the free agent defensive tackle negotiated with the Green Bay Packers. Wilkinson completed a two-day visit to Green Bay on Tuesday. The Packers want him to replace injured nose tackle Gilbert Brown, who is out for the season. . .

Defensive tackle James Cannida, who signed with the Redskins on Monday, should be ready to play against the Patriots, defensive coordinator George Edwards said. Club officials hope that Cannida can fit into a rotation with starting tackles Brandon Noble and Jermaine Haley . . . . Special teams coach Mike Stock said he thinks place kicker John Hall will be able to play. Hall, who sat out the Carolina game because of a slight groin pull, has kicked extra points and short field goals in recent days and is scheduled to test his leg with some kickoffs today . . . . Tailback Kenny Watson has been plagued by a sprained knee but looked better in practice yesterday and probably will play Saturday, barring a setback . . . .

Stock is delaying hip-replacement surgery until after the season and has been in pain this week, walking with the aid of crutches and coaching special teams drills from a golf cart.

"I need a new hip but now is not the time to get it done," he said. "Maybe in February . . . . This has been an unusual flare-up. This has been an ongoing situation. Last year I went through it, and I didn't have to have crutches."

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Originally posted by Cskin

Wow.... hip replacement... that's tough. Stock, for all his troubles with the ST, appears to be a good coach and committed to the Redskins.

:doh: Yes, he seems to be a nice guy and I'm sorry to hear about his hip problems, but let's face it, he has done absolutely nothing to improve on a unit that was consistently bad under his predecessor LeCharles McDaniel.

A good coach? C'MON! He's had a few years to get the unit into shape, and has not done it. Stock can't really control whether Barker whiffs a punt or how well Hall kicks the ball, but what he can control is how well this team covers kickoffs and punts.

I'm expecting things to improve against the Pats, b/c the coverage on Sat. against Carolina was downright incompetent, non-existent and Morton didn't exactly have a lot to work with on that kickoff either.

Don't be surprised if Morton's kickoff return average drops this year b/c of poor overall ST coverage and blocking.

Mike Stock: A nice guy? Sure. A good coach? Not in my book so far.

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Royal is from LSU and was one of our #5 picks last year. He is 6'3 and 256. His posted 40 time of just 4.9 scared some people away during the draft period in 2002 but in preseason last year he looked faster on the field than that time would lead you to believe.

He has much better hands than Flemister, who if he starts, would probably be the worst of the TEs in the NFC.

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one x-factor here is Ramsey's preferences. it may be that Ramsey likes to use the TE rather than the FB as the outlet man and develops a relationship with Royal or whomever assumes the starting role down the road.

I would not assume the TE is just there to block, although, from the article this morning in the WP it appears that Royal is ahead of Flemister in that area as well :)

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