Patriots get a leg up on Redskins, 30-24 New England kicks 6 FGs in scrimmage

July 21, 1991|By Frank Dell'Apa | Frank Dell'Apa,Special to The Sun

FOXBORO, Mass. -- The Washington Redskins made few mistakes during yesterday's rookie scrimmage with the New England Patriots. But one oversight -- neglecting to bring a kicker to Foxboro Stadium -- cost them in a 30-24 defeat.

Cary Conklin threw four touchdown passes, and the Redskins' defense held the Patriots to only two late touchdowns. Yet, the rules of the scrimmage allowed field goals to be attempted virtually at the discretion of the offensive team, and Jason Staurovsky kicked six field goals for the Patriots. Since the teams alternated 10-play drives from midfield, field-goal position was reached easily.

Nor did the score appear to be of concern to the Redskins.

"We got a lot of snaps for the young guys," Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said. "We got them a lot of individual work, got to watch them in a lot of one-on-one situations."

Conklin threw 21- and 10-yard scoring passes to Carl Harry and Ricky Ervins for a 12-0 lead. Later, he tossed touchdown passes on consecutive plays for Harry and Keenan McCardell. But the Patriots, who will enter the regular season with a 14-game losing streak, lined up Staurovsky for field goals from each hash mark after failed drives, eventually taking an 18-12 lead.

Then, Harry ran a short out pattern to the left and dodged strong safety David Key for a 17-yard touchdown. On the next play, McCardell caught a 30-yard pass deep in the end zone against cornerback Mickey Washington -- an accurate read by Conklin, because the Patriots offered no support from the safeties.

"If the defense is aggressive, we're going to be aggressive," Gibbs said. "If they are not aggressive, we won't be."

Conklin threw to nine receivers, and four others caught passes during the seven-on-seven scrimmage, which the Redskins won, on a 40-yard pass from Jeff Rutledge to McCardell.

Draft choices Ervins and Bobby Wilson were especially impressive, though Ervins (11 carries, 28 yards) was especially self-critical.

"I ran my routes a lot deeper, but I could have run the ball better," Ervins said. "The line blocked really good, but you've got to break that first tackle. And I know I can do that."

A duel was anticipated between Ervins and Leonard Russell, the first running back selected in this year's draft. They have continued a friendship/rivalry since they were youngsters in Southern California. They even attended a draft party together in Long Beach, Calif. Ervins signed as a third-round draft choice, but Russell is a contract holdout.

"Even if I was in Leonard's position, I still would have signed early," Ervins said. You have to come in and learn the offense and learn what the defenses are doing."

The Redskins' offensive line also appeared vulnerable, especially after tackle Mohammed Elewonibi departed with a sprained LTC knee. They surrendered four sacks to a Patriots defensive line that included Marion Hobby and Sean Smith, two of New England's better young prospects from last season.

Linebacker Brian Johnson and cornerback Sidney Johnson intercepted passes. And the Redskins defense forced two fumbles from fullback Victor Jones. But, instead of benefiting from recovering the fumbles, the Redskins watched as Staurovsky was allowed to attempt field goals.

The Redskins came to terms to defensive lineman Eric Williams, leaving them with two unsigned veterans -- quarterback Mark Rypien and cornerback Martin Mayhew.

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