The Redskins sounded unanimous in their approval of getting Gardener. At least most of them did. One respected veteran said, ''We just got rid of some of the bad guys, why are we signing another one?'' But even this player acknowledged that Gardener could help the team win.
That's why no one was more pleased than defensive line coach Ricky Hunley. He can pair him next to Dan Wilkinson, giving him at least 650 pounds of beef inside. Hunley said Gardener will only play tackle for him.
''He adds quite a bit,'' Hunley said. ''He has a lot of upside. He can mix in there with Dan and get a lot of push inside. You saw the Baltimore Ravens when they had their two big guys [Tony Siragusa and Sam Adams] and they got a lot of push inside. It frees up the linebackers to let them flow. He makes it solid in there.''
And he's not worried about Gardener's troubled past. Miami cut him two weeks ago for various reasons: bad back and bad attitude. Gardener did not work out in Miami for about six weeks before being cut and would not return calls from the team.
The Redskins know all this.
''He's another guy with something to prove,'' defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis said. ''He wants this opportunity to prove to the rest of the NFL that he can help our team win games. When you walk in this door, you start fresh. He'll be judged on every day that he's here. This gives him a new lease on life. Daryl wouldn't be here except for the fact that he sold us on having a new beginning.''
. . . Corner Fred Smoot is entertaining, even in practice. In one special teams drill, there was a ballcarrier, two blockers facing two defenders and another defender unblocked. He had to hit the ballcarrier. When it was Smoot's turn to hit, he was telling everyone to watch out (or so it sounded like that).
Later, during another special teams drill--this one requiring the defensive player to hit a tackling dummy, bounce off and hit the ballcarrier--Smoot shouted out, ''A hundred dollars! A hundred dollars!'' to Walter Rasby, who was about to tackle him. The bribe didn't work and Rasby playfully tossed Smoot to the ground.
Then Smoot told 5-foot-7 Rock Cartwright, ''I need you to get a little bit lower than that'' on a tackle. More laughter.
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