Q&A With: Justin Skaggs

Justin Skaggs impressed the coaches last summer, earning a spot on Washington's practice squad and, for the last two games, the regular roster. The new coaches also like him--maybe more than the previous group. But that doesn't guarantee him anything. That doesn't bother Skaggs, who said, ''If they don't keep me, big deal. I'll play someplace else.'' And, he admitted, he's a little crazy.

Q: What qualities do you bring to kick returner that will translate into success?

A: You have to be fearless back there and you have to have a feel. You have to pick one spot and go to it and you have to see the whole field, know where your blockers are and where the holes are and that comes from studying film and studying guys on the other team. You have to be crazy, but have finesse, too.

Q: Are you crazy?

A: I've been told that.

Q: What have you worked on this past offseason to help at receiver?

A: I'm working mostly on reading the defenses, more of my mental state and I'm looking out there and seeing what's going on on defense. With this offense I need to do that. That's the one thing I'm trying to focus on. I feel like my route running is coming along and I feel my hands are sure. A lot of it is knowing where to go and what to do in this offense. That's key for me. You have to study the defense. Coming out of the huddle I'm looking at what the defense is doing because that's this whole offense.

Q: It's pretty crowded at receiver and when you look at it, you can make a strong case for a lot of you making the team. Do you look at it like that?

A: I don't. I can't think of it like, 'Am I going to make the team?' And start counting aand wondering, are they going to keep him, him and him. I can't do that. Once I start doing that I lose my focus on what I'm doing out here. I have to concentrate on football and what I'm doing out there. The rest will come. When I go back home people ask me, 'What are your chances?' I'm like, either they'll keep me or play against me. That has to be my mentality. Yes I want to stay here. I love this city, but if they don't keep me, big deal. I'm going to play someplace else. I'm a football player; I'm going to play football.

Q: Spurrier said if he were here last year, you would have played. Does it help to have Spurrier, who is known for giving unknowns a shot?

A: He's fair. And you can see that he spends time with young guys, too. I talked to Marty about playing last year. I felt like I should have been playing. Then again I was thankful to be part of this team any way I could. What I did last year made me better, going against Champ every day. That makes me better. I was going against the best corner in the league.

Q: Where did it make you better?

A: When you play against the best you become better. It was in my footwork, in my releases, in my separation. We had fun last year and I learned a lot. I felt I would get him ready for Sundays and it would pay off for me down the road. It really is.

John Keim has covered the Redskins for eight years, writing for The Journal Newspapers and Pro Football Weekly.

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