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WP: Brunell Has Kind Words for Coughlin


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Brunell Has Kind Words for Coughlin

By Nunyo Demasio

Washington Post Staff Writer


Quarterback Mark Brunell became one of the highest-rated quarterbacks in NFL history during his nine seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars and guided the club to two AFC championship game appearances. Brunell's accomplishments in Jacksonville were the main reason that the Redskins signed the 11-year veteran during the offseason.

Brunell credits much of his success in Jacksonville to Tom Coughlin, who now coaches the New York Giants after leading the Jaguars from 1995 to 2002. Brunell eventually lost his starting job to rookie Byron Leftwich last year after Coughlin was fired and replaced by Jack Del Rio.

Despite eight seasons together, Brunell is downplaying Sunday's game at the New York Giants, the first against his former coach.

"Unless Tom lines up on the other side of the ball, this isn't Mark versus Tom," Brunell said. "The extent of this thing is I'm going to shake his hand before the game, and I'm going to shake his hand afterward. Other than that, it's two football teams going at it. I'm looking forward to seeing him. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him."

With Brunell as his quarterback, Coughlin guided the Jaguars to four straight postseason appearances. But the Jaguars swooned from 2000 to 2002, going without a winning season and causing Coughlin to be dismissed.

Brunell had his differences with Coughlin, who has a reputation for being a staunch disciplinarian. This week, Brunell politely refused to answer any questions about qualms of his own with Coughlin. But he didn't hesitate to defend Coughlin's style, which has become an issue with the Giants. Some New York players have filed complaints with the NFL Players Association about Coughlin.

"We were disciplined, we worked hard, we were committed to winning football games, and we did that," said Brunell, who added that the reports of player complaints were probably overblown. "That stems from his way of doing things."

In a conference call with Washington area reporters on Tuesday, Coughlin praised Brunell's locker room leadership. "He's a team guy," the coach said. "He's not an ego guy."

Better Snap Judgment

Because of three muffed snap exchanges against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday that resulted in three fumbles, the Redskins made them a focus at practice this week. The Redskins usually use five soaked balls for exchange drills between the quarterback and center. But this week, the Redskins increased the intensity and the contact between linemen on the snaps.

"We put the center in the toughest blocking situations known to man," said Joe Bugel, the Redskins' offensive line coach. "It's an ongoing thing and you have to work on it every day."

Barrow May Play

Although linebacker Mike Barrow -- who played the previous four seasons with the Giants -- is once again listed as questionable because of tendinitis in his knee, he still might play. "There's always a chance [he will play], especially against his old team," said Gregg Williams, the Redskins' assistant head coach-defense.

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