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WP: Smith Off To Former Stomping Grounds


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Redskins Notebook

Smith Off To Former Stomping Grounds

By Mark Maske

Washington Post Staff Writer

Wednesday, October 15, 2003; Page D06


Bruce Smith makes his return to Buffalo on Sunday 11/2 sacks shy of Reggie White's NFL career record. Breaking the sack record in the town where he starred for the Bills for 15 seasons undoubtedly is Smith's dream scenario, but the Washington Redskins' likely Hall of Fame-bound defensive end wouldn't admit to that yesterday.

"I'm not even going to elaborate on that because the main focus is on winning," Smith said. "With winning, good things will happen to individuals."

Still, Smith acknowledged it will be "a special week" as he prepares to play in Buffalo for the first time since the Bills released him in a salary cap move following the 1999 season. His family will attend the game, and the Bills are retiring the number of Smith's former teammate, linebacker Darryl Talley, on Sunday.

Smith said he holds no grudges against the Bills and spoke fondly yesterday of his Buffalo tenure, which included four straight Super Bowl losses. He said his finest memory of Rich Stadium (now Ralph Wilson Stadium) was the Bills' 41-38 overtime triumph over the Houston Oilers in an AFC playoff game in January 1993 in which Buffalo overcame a 35-3 deficit in the greatest comeback in NFL history.

"That was a great era of football," Smith said. "You have guys that have gone on to go into the Hall of Fame now, such as Jim Kelly. Thurman [Thomas], I'm sure, will be right behind him, and guys like Andre Reed and James Lofton, Steve Tasker and probably the most well-known of them all, Marv Levy.

"It was a great, great time to be a Buffalo Bill. It was special. We did some special things that no one else in the history of the game has been able to achieve. I just cherish those moments. I cherish them when I talk to the guys that I played with for a number of years. But I don't focus on it because I'm too busy right now trying to get things worked out here in my own house."

Flemister Returns

Tight end Zeron Flemister was back at Redskins Park yesterday. He re-signed with the Redskins to replace Robert Royal, who was placed on the injured reserve list after suffering a fractured right hip during Sunday's loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Flemister was released by the Redskins nine days ago when the club signed Byron Chamberlain, who takes over for Royal as the starter at tight end.

"It's been a weird two weeks for me," Flemister said. "The hardest thing was saying good-bye [last week] to the guys I've known the last four or five years. There weren't bad feelings toward the Redskins. It was just a hard week."

Flemister was claimed by the Cleveland Browns off waivers but was released over the weekend because the team needed a roster spot. Browns Coach Butch Davis told him he would be re-signed on Monday, Flemister said. But Davis never called on Monday, Flemister said, and the Redskins contacted him while he was waiting for the phone to ring.

"I've got to look out for myself," Flemister said. "I thought it would probably be better coming back here because I know the system. I've been in it two years." . . .

The Redskins expect veteran left guard Dave Fiore to sit out a fourth straight game because of soreness in his surgically repaired right knee. Rookie Derrick Dockery likely will make his fourth consecutive start. . . .

Cornerback Fred Smoot appeared to be in extreme discomfort yesterday and said he was scheduled to see a specialist about his injured clavicle.

Sources said there is almost no chance Smoot will play on Sunday, and the Redskins expect to be without running back Trung Canidate, who has a sprained ankle. . . .

Defensive tackle Jermaine Haley aggravated his fractured thumb during the Tampa Bay game. Defensive coordinator George Edwards said he would make a determination late in the week about Haley's availability this weekend. Martin Chase has been backing up starting tackles Haley and Bernard Holsey, and the Redskins could get Lional Dalton into uniform Sunday if Haley is sidelined.

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Well so much for Smoot's iron-will. Doesn't sound good for him being available Sunday. Lets hope Bauman eats his wheaties this week.

And we better hope Bruce Smith makes good on my premonition (or someone else does) because without Smoot out there, and without some serious pressure on Bledsoe, he'll eat us alive.

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