Camp Notes: Friday

One practice the offense looks dreadful. The next it takes a step up. And that's exactly what it did today. But there's one problem: they look bad when the team is in full pads and improve when they're not.

After improving Thursday afternoon, the Redskins took a major step back this morning. In five plays from the 3-yard line, the offense could not score. They pushed the ball back to the 10 and the offense could muster just one score in about 10 plays.

It was a combination of errors: ugly throws; dropped passes; more dropped passes and more errant tosses. Thing got so nasty that, at one point, rookie running back Ladell Betts fumbled a handoff in a drill where there was no contact.

Give the defense credit, however. Especially linebackers Eddie Mason and Kevin Mitchell, both of whom delivered crunching hits in the goal-line drill. Mitchell had back-to-back excellent plays, stuffing the ballcarrier up the middle on one play and stopping a reverse on the next.

The offense rallied in the afternoon (when the team wasn't in pads). One of the biggest cheers in camp came when quarterback Sage Rosenfels, operating the no-huddle, connected with receiver Rod Gardner for a long touchdown, beating corner Kenneth Grant.

Later, Danny Wuerffel hit Justin Skaggs over the middle for a 40-yard score. More importantly, Wuerffel had something he hasn't always had: plenty of time to throw and an excellent passing lane. Again, Grant was the victim.

We're expecting more of the same uneven play from the offense the rest of camp.

. . . Think DL coach Ricky Hunley would like to sign Daryl Gardener? When asked the question, he didn't respond. Instead, Hunley just smiled and nodded his head.

By the way, Gardener wants to play here. He cancelled a trip to visit the Rams and his agent, Neil Schwartz, said his desire to play here is the reason. But Gardener might take his time to sign. The 15-hour plane ride to Japan would not be good for his back.

. . . Japanese receiver Akihito Amaya made his debut yesterday morning. He'll play for the Redskins against San Francisco in Osaka. Amaya needed a translator at times, but he knew what to say when asked which NFL team is Japan's favorite.

''Redskins,'' he said, smiling.

Defensive back Chandler Smith played with Amaya in NFL Europe.

. . . Defensive linemen Donovan Arp and Del Cowsette know they have a ways to go to become quality players in the NFL. But give them credit for trying. They stick around after every practice to work with DeChon Burns for at least 10-15 minutes. Mostly they work on exploding into their opponent, getting the right hand placement. We'll see soon if their work pays off.

. . . Former Redskin tight end Donnie Warren attended practice today. His son, Blake, is a redshirt freshman linebacker at Virginia Tech and could see action on special teams. He's listed as second on the depth chart at middle linebacker.

. . . One Redskins scout has been impressed by newly-signed center Wilbert Brown, saying he has good hands and quick feet.

. . . Reidel Anthony and Ladell Betts were among those returning kicks today. It would greatly help Anthony's chances of making the team if he does well in this area. Justin Skaggs entered as the No. 1 kick returner. That could change.

. . . For what it's worth: when the linemen ran sprints the width of the field and back following the afternoon practice, Jon Jansen finished first each of the five times. Dan Wilkinson finished last each time. Just to calm fears: Bruce Smith also finished near the front of the group every time.

John Keim also covers the Redskins for The Journal Newspapers.


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