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Nyp: All Eyes On Coles


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When the Jets roll into FedEx Field on Thursday night to play the Ex-Jets in the season opener, perhaps the most watched player other than Vinny Testaverde will be Redskins wideout Laveranues Coles. The former Jets standout signed as a free agent with Washington during the offseason in one of the most publicized acquisitions of 2003.

Did the Redskins overpay for Coles?

"I don't think so," said HBO "Inside the NFL" analyst Cris Collinsworth, who caught a few balls during his playing days in Cincinnati. "To me, the wide receivers are your home run threats, they are the Mark McGwires or the Sammy Sosas. They're the ones that can change the outcome of a game with a single strike.

"When you don't have that type of capability - and the Redskins did not a season ago - and you have to try to put together these 10- or 12-play drives without having a major penalty, without having a sack, without having something go wrong on that drive, you are just not going to win very often in this league.

"This league, more and more, is coming down to chunk plays, plays where you pick up 30, 40, 50 yards. I think Laveranues Coles is a heck of a player, and maybe before this signing, maybe the best player that nobody had ever heard of in the National Football League."

Not anymore. It all comes down to R-E-S-P-E-C-T, and following that theme, Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, will appear in concert before the game.

"She's not a big football fan," her agent, Ruth Bowen, told Page Morton Black, chairman of the Parkinson's Disease Foundation for which Bowen does fund-raising.

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