Minicamp Report: Day One

Bruce Smith insists he can play every down. That is, if he's healthy. And after one of his most strenuous seasons, Smith's body is still recovering. But it no longer matters what Smith thinks he can do. It's only what his coaches think. And here's what his position coach has to say about Smith playing every down.

''I'm confident he can, no question,'' defensive line coach Ricky Hunley said. ''All you have to do is look at the tape. It's incredible that a guy who has that intensity and understands leverage and angles. He uses all the things he's learned over the years and that's the beauty of it. He's like a coach on the field when it comes to being technically sound.''

Smith won't practice this weekend because of a procedure earlier this month to clean out his left knee. But he said he'll be ready for training camp. A much more relaxed training camp, we must add.

''I feel energized because of the new staff,'' Smith said. ''You can still work out and keep yourself in shape without having the physical pounding that I put myself through last year. You just have to be smart and choose your points at which we can work and get some work accomplished. Be smart about it and be efficient. You guys saw what happened last year.''

. . . The quarterbacks were average at best, Steve Spurrier said. Which makes you hope the Redskins never play average during games. Otherwise, they'll be in trouble. Because average today meant, at times, bad. Danny Wuerffel and Sage Rosenfels alternated with the first unit and took turns making bad throws, particularly in the afternoon. Each flirted with disaster on several occasions, making the defense appear way further ahead than the offense--as expected. Wuerffel looked sharper than Rosenfels, mainly because he was more decisive. That's a trait that will help Wuerffel stay ahead this summer.

''He does have a lot of ability,'' Spurrier said of Rosenfels. ''We just have to get it out of him. He has to be more aggressive and quicker, more decisive and definite. Hopefully we can get him that way.

''He can make all the throws when he tries to. But sometimes he just [lobs] it out there and doesn't finish his throw. That's sort of like quitting on a golf ball. You have to finish your throw. That's what we're trying to coach him up to do.''

Dameyune Craig didn't look much better. He appears uncomfortable taking drops in this offense and threw a few ducks. Rookie Patrick Ramsey mostly was limited to handoffs and a couple of bullets during one-on-one drills.

''He's got a cannon,'' receiver Kevin Lockett said. ''He delivers the ball with great velocity. It'll be interesting to see just how much better he gets as he picks up this offense.''

. . . The quarterbacks worked a lot on holding the ball near their head, allowing them to get rid of the ball quicker. It's what Spurrier emphasizes. Wuerffel still had a tendency to pat the ball before he released it. Wuerffel also confused Washington with Green Bay once again, wearing gloves in the morning when the temperature was around 55 degrees. Brrrr.

. . . The running backs were good for a few moments today. First, coach Hue Jackson put them through a drill in which they zig-zagged their way through a series of cones, chopping their feet the whole time. If a player hit the cone, they had to start over. Stephen Davis went first.

''Stephen Davis, start over!'' Jackson shouted.

''I didn't hit that cone,'' Davis said.

''Oh yeah you did!'' Jackson said.

Davis ran again.

By the way, when Jackson showed them how to run the drills, he did so saying, ''Oh, yeah I've still got it. I've got some rhythm.''

A few minutes later, Jackson wanted to test their pass-blocking skills. So he had an assistant and player personnel director Vinny Cerrato hold blocking bags a few feet from a foot-chopping back, who had to block whichever one came forward.

Nothing big happened. But after rookie Rock Cartwright finished his turn, thrusting into the bags, Cerrato told the assistant and Jackson, 'Damn, he's got a little punch.'

. . . David Loverne worked at left guard with the first unit, alongside center Larry Moore and right guard Rod Jones. The second line included left guard Alex Sulfsted, center David Brandt and right guard Ross Tucker. The latter trio also got a few snaps with the first offense.

. . . Cartwright already is the No. 2 fullback. He's quick, has good hands and is strong. It might not take long for him to be No. 1. By the way, given his size, his name should be Boulder. The kid's too big to only be a Rock.

. . . Defensive tackles Dan Wilkinson (pneumonia) and Del Cowsette (wrist) did not practice today. Linebacker LaVar Arrington (migraine) did not practice in the afternoon.

. . . Rookie running back Ladell Betts looked quicker than Spurrier said he expected him to be. He also liked what he saw of rookie wideout Clifford Russell. By the way, there's a noticeable difference in speed and quickness between Russell and the other wideouts.

. . . Corner Darrell Green went over the top of Russell to break up a pass. It was clearly pass interference, but that didn't stop defensive teammates from high-fiving Green. When a few offensive players shouted, ''That's a flag!'' Green, smiling, talked trash to them. Then he flexed his right muscle. Good to see he's still not acting his age. Which is why he's lasted this long.

John Keim covers the Redskins for The Journal Newspapers (www.jrnl.com).


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