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Redskins Aiming

For a Fast Start


By Gary Fitzgerald


While most everyone’s attention has been focused on the Washington-New York Jets nationally televised game this Thursday night, Redskin players and coaches have adopted the mindset that getting off to a winning start in the first few games is paramount to a successful season.

Last year, of course, the Redskins won the first game of the Steve Spurrier era with a 31-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. But the team lost four of its next five games.

In 2001, the team started out 0-5, managed to win five consecutive games to climb back into the playoff hunt, before finishing the season at 8-8.

This year, the Redskins have vowed to avoid similar starts in what they hope will be a playoff season.

“We need to get off to a good pace and establish a good energy level in the first game,” said right tackle Jon Jansen. “You really need to get up early in the season so that you’re not always fighting just to get back to a .500 record. You can’t play behind the eight ball. You want to get up and stay up.”

Said wide receiver Rod Gardner: “It’s very important to start off the season well. If we go out against the Jets and perform well, then going into the next week it’s just a lot easier. It builds momentum for each game.”

Extra Points

--- In the locker room at Redskin Park, much of the chatter—often in a joking manner—has been which player would serve as the team’s emergency quarterback should both Patrick Ramsey and Rob Johnson be injured in a game.

Spurrier has suggested that wide receivers Gardner and Laveranues Coles could serve in that capacity if necessary. Gardner, who played quarterback in high school, told reporters that he took some snaps during Tuesday’s practice.

“Hey, I’ve got the arm to play quarterback,” he said with a grin. “Slant is probably the best route I throw. When I’m at QB, Laveranues and I have a little combination that’s called ‘L.C., check with me.’ He just has to let me know when he wants to run a little bit, and I’ll get him the ball.”

Cornerback Fred Smoot jokingly offered to play quarterback during interviews with the media on Tuesday.

“If they call on me, I’ll run a little option out there,” he said. “I played a little quarterback in high school, actually. But they said I was a better corner, so I just followed what the coach thought was best. I think he did know best, because if I were a quarterback, I might not be talking to you all right now.”

By the way, the Redskins aren't the only NFL team carrying only two quarterbacks on the opening day roster. San Diego, Buffalo, Indianapolis, Denver, Atlanta and Miami also have only two QBs, although the latter two teams will return to three when Michael Vick and Brian Griese return from injuries.

--- Spurrier expects to split up the carries among his running backs on Thursday night. Trung Canidate is slated to start the game, but Ladell Betts could see an equal amount of playing time.

Chad Morton could also garner a few carries, Spurrier said.

“Chad will play a little [at running back]—probably not a whole bunch,” the head coach said. “Trung and Ladell will get the carries. That’s the plan.”

Spurrier is also aiming for a balance between the calling of running and passing plays in the game.

“If we’re fortunate enough to get ahead, then you always run the ball more than you throw it,” he said. “We hope to mix it up.”

--- Neither the Redskins nor the Jets starters played a full game in the preseason, and Spurrier said conditioning could play a key role in the game against New York this Thursday evening.

“Hopefully our conditioning will kick in and we’ll be ready to go the distance,” Spurrier said. “Conditioning will probably play a factor in the outcome of the game.”

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Originally posted by blakman211

Spurrier is also aiming for a balance between the calling of running and passing plays in the game.

I hope Spurrier stays true to this. I think we'll having a better chance of winning if we balance it all out, and not stick to the pass so much.

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