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Coles & Gardner- Jax's dynamic Duo


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Kool article.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Duval's Dynamic Duo

Redskins bring together ex-rivals Coles, Gardner

By Teneshia L. Wright

Times-Union sports writer

Rod Gardner and Laveranues Coles have been at odds since junior high school.

Until this year.

Gardner shined for Ribault Middle, Raines High and Clemson and Coles starred at Highlands Middle, Ribault High and Florida State.

The Washington Redskins reunited the Jacksonville natives when they wooed Coles from the New York Jets for a whopping seven-year, $35 million contract, including a $13 million signing bonus.

Gardner, in the midst of a five-year, $10-million contract as the Redskins' No. 1 pick in 2001, welcomes his old competitor, recognizing that he could use help in former Florida coach Steve Spurrier's passing offense.

Jacksonville's Rod Gardner and Laveranues Coles hope to duplicate their 1,000-yard seasons of 2002 this year with the Redskins.

-- Yuli Wu/Staff

They return to Jacksonville for tonight's preseason finale against the Jaguars at Alltel Stadium as more than teammates.

"We definitely complement each other well," Coles said. "Just in these past two preseason games, you can see that we're going to do big things together."

"The Duval Duo," Gardner said. "I'm Thunder. I bring the power, and I consider him Lightning because he thinks he's fast."

Homeboys, indeed.

Gardner and Coles live in townhouses across the street from each other in a Washington suburb, spend some of their down time together playing fight-oriented video games and venture into the city together "to get our party on," Gardner said.

The two also hope to get their party on the field. Redskins receivers coach Steve Spurrier Jr. calls himself "the most improved coach on the staff with the addition of Laveranues Coles."

"Rod will play as much as Laveranues," Spurrier Jr. said. "But how does he take a guy coming in making more than he does?"

Gardner said it only motivates him, so he can demand a similar deal when his contract is up in two seasons.

"He did just sign for that $35 million, but I can't complain. I got a nice penny when I came out," Gardner said. "If you go out and handle your business on the field, you're going to be compensated in the end."

Coaches and teammates say they're getting more from Coles than they expected. They knew about the speed and big-play ability, but they didn't know about the hard work ethic that has rubbed off on other receivers. Coles showed he can be a team player when he delivered a solid block for Gardner on a receiver screen against the Baltimore Ravens.

''What's underpaid, if he's overpaid?'' said three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey said.

Coles grabbed 89 catches for 1,264 yards and five touchdowns last season as the New York Jets made the playoffs. Gardner snagged 71 catches for 1,006 yards and eight touchdowns while Spurrier played musical quarterbacks with 2002 first-round pick Patrick Ramsey and former UF quarterbacks Danny Wuerffel and Shane Matthews. The Redskins finished 7-9.

This season, the Redskins hopes ride on the shoulder of Ramsey, who said he likes his options with Coles and Gardner.

"It takes a lot of pressure of me. First of all, these guys have such incredible ability to make plays," Ramsey said. "Secondly, they're confident. I really infectious. I think everybody kind of feeds off those two guys. They want the ball, and that's what we want to base offense on."

"Both are talented, good players, two of the best in the league really," Spurrier Jr. said. "Laveranues is so fast and quick and strong that he can do anything. Rod's a little bit bigger and he doesn't mind going across the middle. Together they can really have great seasons and really help this offense be phenomenal."

Last week, Coles caught Ramsey's fleaflicker for a 39-yard touchdown in a 24-3 home victory over Baltimore, the Redskins' first preseason victory.

It was Spurrier's first trick play of the preseason, and Spurrier Jr. said his father may draw up a Gardner-to-Coles play.

Gardner said that would be a good combination -- he was a high school quarterback before developing into an All-American receiver at Clemson. Gardner also has taken limited practice reps behind center for the Redskins, and admitted working on a pass play to Coles.

"We have to save it for the season. Just expect some big things between me and him," Gardner said.

The plan is to take the Redskins to their first Super Bowl since 1991, and that could coinicide with a return to Jacksonville for Super Bowl XXXIX.

"I don't care if I've got 10 catches," Coles said. "If we can have a winning season this year, make it to the playoffs and win a Super Bowl, that will take care of everything."

By the numbers

Rod Gardner

2001: 46 catches, 741 yds, 4 TD.

2002: 71 catches, 1,006 yds, 8 TD.

Laveranues Coles

2000: 22 catches, 370 yds, 1 TD.

2001: 59 catches, 868 yds, 7 TD.

2002: 89 catches, 1,264 yds, 5 TD.

Gardner at a glance

Position: Receiver.

Ht./Wt.: 6-2/213.

Birthplace: Jacksonville.

Residence: Atlanta.

College: Clemson.

Draft selection: First round (15th overall).

Years in the league: 3.

Last year's numbers: 71 catches, 1,006 yds, 8 TD.

Last appearance at Alltel: 7 catches, 100 yds, 1 TD for 'Skins on Nov. 10, 2002.

Local high school: Raines.

High school position: Quarterback.

Coles at a glance

Position: Receiver.

Ht./Wt.: 5-11/193.

Birthplace: Jacksonville.

Residence: Jacksonville.

College: Florida State.

Draft selection: third round (78th overall).

Years in the league: 4.

Last year's numbers: 89 catches, 1,264 yds, 5 TD.

Last appearance at Alltel: 8 catches, 97 yds for Jets on Sept. 29, 2002 .

Local high school: Ribault.

High school position: Running back.

The last time Coles and Gardner faced each other in the annual Raines-Ribault game, Coles had 17 carries for 77 yards and Gardner was 6 of 10 for 114 yards and 1 touchdown, and carried 15 times for 65 yards in Raines' 31-19 victory in 1995.

Staff writer Teneshia L. Wright can be reached at (904) 359-4372 or via e-mail at tlwrightjacksonville.com.

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Gardner said it only motivates him, so he can demand a similar deal when his contract is up in two seasons.

This is what I was afraid of :doh: And don't I say I didn't warn all of you when Gardner had been paying attention to what Holt and Coles got this year.

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Thunder & Lightning....now if they could only work in a nickname for Jacobs and/or Ramsey, I think I see a poster hanging on my wall in the near future....(Actually just Coles/Gardner would get the deal done, but more guys in it would be even better).

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