IN THEIR WORDS: FRED SMOOT

Redskins rookie corner Fred Smoot hasn't stopped yapping since he joined Washington. Except for when coach Marty Schottenheimer told the second-round pick on Tuesday that he'd earned the starting job over Darrell Green. Then Smoot was silent.

Now he knows he must back up the talk.

Here are his thoughts entering the season opener at San Diego:

''It's amazing that I beat out Darrell. I would never have thought it, all the years I was sitting at home and watching him play on TV. He was one of the best I've ever seen. It still amazes me.

''When I heard I'd won the job I called my mom. You think I'm loud, wait until you see my mom at FedEx Field. She makes some noise, now. She knows about football. I told her I won the spot and she told me how proud she was.

''But my momma will break it down and she won't show no love. [After a bad game] she'll call and say, 'I'm sorry, that wasn't my son out there playing tonight. I don't know what's wrong with you. She's straightforward like that. She'll tell me how she feels.

''I haven't talked to Deion [Sanders] since I got the job, but before camp he told me to go out there and make it happen. I don't care about the draft stuff anymore. That's gone. All I can do is look to the future. I know I was the best corner in the draft this year, but everything happens for a reason.

''I just wanted to get into camp and learn to play, regardless if I was the second, third or fourth corner. I wanted to learn the system. I knew once I learned the system I would play. I fit in lovely here. You've got LaVar and he's real outgoing and likes to get it real uptempo on the field. You've got Shawn Barber and he likes to get it real uptempo. I fit in. I'll be the voice in the defensive backfield.

''I visualize what I'm going to do [Sunday] every night before I go to sleep and when I wake up in the morning. How many plays can I make? I'm not going to try and make every play and try to do everything. I'll go in subtle and play my game. I see myself having a great game.

''I don't know what I'm going to do, but I know I'll get tested. I know they're coming at me. They've got Norv and he just got fired from here. He's playing his ex-team and I'm the only one on defense that he doesn't konw. Why wouldn't he come after me? It's similar to when I came to Mississippi State. They had Robert Dean at the other corner and he was all-SEC. Everyone came at me for the first three or four games and then they knew not to come at me no more. This just gives me the opportunity to put the spotlight on me.

''I know I have to be patient against Doug Flutie. That's something I learned from Darrell. The receiver could run his route and then break it off and run another one because Flutie will just run around.

''But I won't be nervous. I'll go through all my nervous points through the week. Once I get in the game, once I get dirty and pushed down and tackle, I'll be all right. I might get nervous on the bus ride there, but after that I'll be all right.''

John Keim covers the Redskins for The Journal Newspapers and is a correspondent for Pro Football Weekly. Check www.jrnl.com for game coverage Sunday night.


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