Camp Report: Tuesday

The heat returned today and it's likely it'll stick around a few days. That's not a problem. Daryl Gardener's back is, however. What's up with the back? And how did the defense look today? Then there's another comment from Fred Smoot worth repeating.

 . . Daryl Gardener missed practice today because of back spasms, returning to Virginia to be examined. The Redskins say he'll be able to play once the spasms leave. And they expect them to last just a few days, leaving him available for Sunday's game against Pittsburgh.

The Redskins won't say whether or not this is something to be concerned about. But how can it not be? Gardener has had back surgery each of the past two seasons. Look for the Redskins to baby his back the rest of camp. He's shown he can play.

. . . The secondary picked off five passes in the morning workouts. Corner Champ Bailey intercepted two, including a one-hander, and Fred Smoot made a diving interception in the end zone, helped when Emmett Johnson dropped the ball. Ifeanyi Ohalete nearly grabbed a sixth.

''They know who the best defense is in the NFL,'' Smoot said. ''They practice against them every day.''

. . . Chris Doering did something unusual today: he dropped a ball in practice.

. . . Brett Conway looked good on kickoffs this morning, dropping one around the 2-yard line and pinned deep in the right corner. He consistently placed balls near that area, which the coaches liked.

. . . Yes the Redskins are interested in free agent guard Ray Brown. But they haven't made him an offer and four other teams also are keeping him on speed dial. But his agent, Steve Baker, said Washington is very appealing to the ex-Redskin.

. . . Tight end Zeron Flemister missed practice with a strained calf muscle. He should be able to play Sunday.

. . . Rookie quarterback Patrick Ramsey spent a solid 15 minutes after practice this afternoon working on throwing to spots. A receiver would stand in the corner of the end zone and Ramsey would drop back then hit him. All to get comfortable with his touch on those throws.

. . .Receiver Darnerien McCants made the catch of the day, a leaping over-the-defensive-back grab of a long pass down the right sideline. But the fun play of the day involved different players. Receiver Rod Gardner caught a Shane Matthews pass and, as he was wrapped up, he lateralled the ball to running back Ladell Betts, running to his outside down the right sideline.

. . . Tight end Robert Royal could be an interesting player to watch. Royal dropped a bullet from Patrick Ramsey this morning, but he responded with a nice grab of an out pattern in the afternoon, beating linebacker Jessie Armstead on the play.

''Robert runs well and he's a pretty good pass receiver,'' Redskins coach Steve Spurrier said. ''He needs to work on his blocking. He's done some nice things catching passes.''

. . . Kipp Vickers spent a lot of time at left guard today with Rod Jones at left tackle. Jones looks rusty at tackle after spending so much time at guard. The worry, from our standpoint: his footwork. Jones' feet are much slower than Chris Samuels. Let's hope it's the rust.

. . . Del Cowsette and Donovan Arp rotated at defensive tackle in place of Daryl Gardener.

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