Byner Loves New Role

Earnest Byner looked at Joe Gibbs differently as a player. Byner was an accomplished player, a key player on a team that won a Super Bowl. He was a quality NFL player. Yet even he was in awe of Gibbs.

''I looked at him almost mystical,'' said Byner, now a Redskins running backs coach. ''I had a lot of respect for him. Even though he had us come in and talk with him and tell us what's on our heart, he almost had a veil around him. But to be with him on the staff and see him in this light and on this level, I'm marveling at how he's able to go from one thing to the next and stay focused the way he does.''

Byner said Gibbs already seems like the same coach he played for way back when. And before this past minicamp Byner said he saw the old Gibbs.

''With the first team meeting [before the first minicamp], you could tell he was just getting back into the flow,'' Byner said. ''This team meeting was like boom, boom, boom. He was delivering a good punch, telling good stories. The communication hasn't changed and that's the key. Joe sets the tone. All we do is follow.''

Gibbs impressed Byner with a staff meeting before the second minicamp. During this six-hour meeting, while other coaches went in and out for bathroom breaks or other things, Gibbs stayed in front reviewing tape of upcoming opponents.

That snippet showed Byner why Gibbs' teams have been successful in the past. And it's why he jumped at the chance to come to Washington, where he played from 1989-93.

''When I heard Joe Gibbs was coming back, I wanted to be part of the expectations over there,'' Byner said. ''Everyone is expecting us to have a good team and perform well. It's a challenge, but I love it.''

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