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Paul Woody: REDSKINS NOTES 9-10


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Richmond Times-Dispatch Sep 10, 2004


FATIGUE FACTOR: The Redskins looked weary as they trudged off the practice field this week, and outside linebacker LaVar Arrington said they looked the way they felt.

"I firmly believe our practices are so much harder than the games will be," Arrington said. "I was fighting the tired monster today. He was on the field running after everybody."

The tired monster? Is he related to the Cookie Monster?

"That was a 'yodaism,'" Arrington said, referring to the sage from the Star Wars movies.

Arrington is rarely at a loss for words, and he used his words to issue a challenge to the Redskins fans. The players and coaches always are asked about accountability. Arrington wants the fans to feel accountability for the Redskins performance on the field this year.

"We need the 12th man," Arrington said. "When the tired monster is after you during a game, the only thing that can sustain you is the noise from the 12th man.

"I went to the USC-Virginia Tech game [played in the Redskins stadium on Aug. 28], and it made me feel a little more introspective. I had to go to a college game as a spectator to see the place rocking. I believe the fans can make all the difference in the world. If [Tampa quarterback] Brad Johnson can't communicate with his offense, that can make all the difference in the world for the defense."

MAYBE BLONDS HAVE MORE FUN: Offensive guard Randy Thomas faced two questions this week: How is his neck? What happened to his hair?

Thomas sprained his neck lifting weights several weeks ago, and missed the final preseason game and several practices. But he's set to start Sunday against Tampa Bay.

His neck, Thomas said, is fine.

His hair was another matter.

Thomas has dark hair, but this week, it had turned reddish-blond.

Did he lose a bet? Was he trying to make a fashion statement? Was it something he ate?

No matter how the question was phrased, Thomas offered the same, good-natured answer. "That's my private life," he said, laughing as he said it.

SHOW ME: Thomas also had little to say about Craig Cooley, the rookie who will start at H-back Sunday.

"He's a rookie and I don't make conversation about rookies," Thomas said. "He hasn't played a game yet. He's got to prove himself. Holler at me next week."

So, Thomas, was asked, you have nothing good to say about Cooley?

"He's practicing," Thomas said.

FOUND, A FEW GOOD MEN: One of the more spirited battles for a starting job during the preseason was between Brandon Noble and Joe Salave'a at nose tackle. Noble came into camp as the starter, but he was coming back from major knee surgery. Then he suffered a broken hand.

Salave'a got through training camp injury free and played better each week. He started the last two preseason games and seems to have the job.

Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams vows that all eight defensive linemen will be rotated into the game in order to keep everyone fresh.

"I don't want a nose tackle controversy," said Redskins defensive line coach Greg Blache. "Both have been excellent. I'm going to keep that as a surprise."

It's difficult to imagine the Bucs will adjust their game plan based on whether Noble or Salave'a is on the field, but you never know.

Blache did say that he's been pleased with both players.

"Neither one is going to let the other 52 guys down," Blache said. "I call them 'Marines.' They wear their big boy pads. They take people on and do what you have to do to be successful."

PRACTICE SQUAD: The Redskins have signed linebacker Clifton Smith to the practice squad. Smith played in one game for the Redskins in 2003 but spent most of the season on the practice squad. Defensive lineman Ryan Boschetti was released to make room for Smith. Paul Woody

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