Lockett anxious for chance

Redskins receiver Kevin Lockett didn't want to leave Washington. He liked the area and, better still, he liked the system Steve Spurrier employed. Mainly because it was receiver friendly.

So he gladly restructured his contract, reducing his base salary and smiling all the way.

''It was worth it,'' Lockett said. ''My wife and I enjoy living here and didn't want to leave for a while. Taking less money gave me an opportunity to stay here and play in this system.''

And now he'll get to start. Lockett, in his sixth season, will make his sixth career start when the Redskins play at Tennessee on Sunday. It's his first start in Washington.

Washington likes his route-running ability, which is why Lockett bumped Derrius Thompson from the lineup. Also, Spurrier has long taken a fancy to Lockett, telling reporters one day in a casual conversation this summer to ''keep your eye on him.''

''I'm doing things a lot of others are asked to do,'' said Lockett, who has four catches for 39 yards. ''I'm sure people look at the stat page and say, 'He's not doing anything.' It's the same thing I do to other receivers. But I'm starting to paly well and get adjusted to the system. The more balls come my way, the more comfortable I'll become.''

Lockett must adjust to playing the Z receiver, lining up more in the slot and working in unison with another receiver. He's used to playing the X spot, where he often worked alone and in single coverage. In the slot, he'll often face more linebackers and safeties, working in traffic.

''Instead of dodging one guy, a lot of times you're dodging two or three,'' said Lockett, who has played mostly X since his high school days. ''There's more traffic, but with smaller, quicker guys they tend not to believe the safeties or linebackers can stay with you like a corner does. There are plusses and minuses.''

And Lockett says he's not troubled by playing in the slot. He's just happy that he's learning the details of the offense.

''There are some small things you need to know on certain plays,'' Lockett said. ''You can only take an inside release on some routes. On certain plays you can only take an outside release. I'm getting comfortable reading coverages and knowing what the quarterback expects us to do on each play.

''I knew I would get more time. This is a great opportunity for me. In this offense guys can catch a lot of balls. I know I'll get a lot of balls thrown my way. I'm pretty excited about it.''

. . . Corner Fred Smoot missed practice with a sore back, but he's expected to play. Rookie Rashad Bauman took most of the snaps in his absence.

. . . Tight end Walter Rasby said he's not certain how much he'll play, but he'll be available. Spurrier said Rasby isn't quite running well yet and he, too, is uncertain how much Rasby will contribute.

. . . Tackle Chris Samuels missed some time in practice because of injuries to his groin and thigh. Samuels said he'll ''tough it out'' and play.


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