Creative 'Skins off to Fast Start

Three years ago the Redskins' front office chased every big name available, regardless of age. The payoff didn't match the price, resulting in a season-ending crash the following year. This year they've turned to creativity, rather than money, to solve their problems. It just might work. Curious? read on..

This year they've turned to creativity, rather than money, to solve their problems. It just might work.

First, they signed free agent guard Dave Fiore, cut a day ago by San Francisco. He's a risk--Fiori has had five major knee surgeries in his career. But he's also worth it: he's a solid player and a definite upgrade at left guard.

For Fiore, the move was simple. Washington, a team he grew up rooting for in New Jersey, provided him a chance to play one position. In San Francisco, Fiore bounced around, playing all five spots at some point. He wanted a home, a chance to develop at one spot.

He'll get that here.

''In the longterm that will make me a better player,'' Fiori said. ''That's one of the things that drove me here.''

Redskins line coach Kim Helton said, ''We now have one of the most powerful left sides in pro ball. . . . I've never smoked anything in my life, but today I actually took a puff of a cigar. I'm pretty happy. Dave has toughness, intelligence. He's a tremendous, tremendous player for us and a tremendous athlete.''

In today's football, with quick, mammoth tackles, an athletic guard is a must. Especially in a pass-happy offense.

Then there's Canidate, who got into trouble with Rams coach Mike Martz last year. He's more potential than proven player. But his potential, thanks to his 4.2 speed in the 40-yard dash, is intriguing. And he only cost a fourth-round pick and David Loverne.

Canidate does not enter as the starter. Rather, he'll compete with Ladell Betts and Kenny Watson. But Canidate's speed is sorely needed in this offense.

''It means we have a home-run hitter,'' Redskins offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, who coached against Canidate in college. ''We've added another playmaker. What we're trying to do is put more playmakers on the field.''

These are the moves Washington has targeted for the past month. The Redskins, like everyone else, picked out the players who would be available, and then pounced on them.

''Our game plan was to hit fast and strike quickly,'' Redskins director of player personnel Vinny Cerrato, who was in San Francisco with Fiori said. ''Dave brings great leadership. He loves to lift weights. . . . Both these guys are young, they love football and they're tough guys.''

These moves might not pan out, though Fiori is a more proven player than Canidate and only an injury would derail his potential.

But the potential might not match what the Redskins gave up, in terms of money (terms weren't disclosed) or draft picks.

''The reward is much greater,'' Cerrato said.

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