Redskins rookie has more on his mind than a job Bell returns to camp after death of his child

August 07, 1991|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Correspondent

CARLISLE, Pa. -- This was supposed to be the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Charles Bell.

When the ninth-round draft choice from Baylor came to Washington Redskins training camp three weeks ago, he was focused on trying to beat the odds and win a roster spot.

Now he's finding it difficult to concentrate. Suddenly, football doesn't seem that important anymore.

That's because his only child, 2-year-old Charles Bell III, died of a blood disorder in Waco, Texas, last week.

Bell resumed practice for the first time yesterday.

"I'm telling you, it's real tough," he said. It's a day-to-day thing. That's the only child I have. It's real rough. It's just going to be a mental thing for me. It's more than physical. Physically, I'm fine, but it's a mental thing.

"Right now, concentration is about the hardest thing right now. Thinking about what happened, wishing the situation were reversed, but I can't do anything about that, so I'm just trying to put it behind me."

Bell said that when his child got sick, the illness was diagnosed as pneumonia. Then doctors discovered he was suffering from lupus, which he said was rare in a youngster.

He said the Redskins have been supportive in his time of need.

"Everybody's been real helpful. Anything I need, [they're willing] to help me. They told me to just come by to the room. That's enough for me," Bell said.

Coach Joe Gibbs said a tragedy like this helps put football into perspective.

"You get all caught up thinking this is the most important thing in the world and something like that happens. It's a real downer for everybody. We're just trying to help him now that he's back. We're trying to give him as much time as we can," Gibbs said.

Bell said the coaches told him "to take my time and don't try to rush anything. They still have confidence in me."

With the final cuts in three weeks, Bell has to make up for lost time in a hurry.

The only thing he has going for him is that he'll get more time working in practice because the Redskins are thin at cornerback, with A.J. Johnson sidelined with a dislocated wrist for six to eight weeks and with Sidney Johnson out for another week with a bad shoulder.

"In my mind, I still think I have a pretty good chance," Bell said. "A.J. went down and Sidney's kind of bruised right now, so I'm getting a lot of reps."

The odds still are against him, though, because Sidney Johnson, Alvoid Mays and rookie Jimmy Spencer, an eighth-round pick, are considered ahead of Bell.

Mays and Sidney Johnson are favored to get the backup jobs behind Darrell Green and Martin Mayhew, but general manager Charley Casserly said: "I don't think it's an impossible situation at all. [Bell is] going to get a lot of playing time, and if he can make some plays, he's going to move up the ladder."

Meanwhile, Gibbs also is concerned about the situation at defensive end, even though Charles Mann returned to practice yesterday to join veterans Fred Stokes and Markus Koch at the position.

Stokes suffered a neck injury in Sunday night's 16-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, but was able to return to practice yesterday.

"I'm very concerned. We're even contemplating moving some people. We're going to have to do something," Gibbs said.

Since Gibbs has indicated he doesn't want to confuse rookie Bobby Wilson, the tackles who would most likely be shifted if Gibbs decides to make a move are Eric Williams, Jumpy Geathers or Tim Johnson.

Gibbs said he wasn't pleased that the defense let the Steelers offense stay on the field 37 minutes, and that he wasn't pleased that the offense produced just one touchdown.

Except for running back Ricky Ervins, who scored the touchdown, Gibbs didn't give the offensive players good reviews.

"I don't think any of us were really hitting, with the exception of Ricky Ervins. It seems like he looked very quick and the rest of us looked sluggish," Gibbs said.

NOTES: TE Don Warren, wearing a cast on his broken fibula, visited camp yesterday and said he couldn't even watch the whole game on TV Sunday night. Warren, who will be out 8 to 10 weeks, said: "It's been real frustrating to say the least. . . . You just wish you were there playing." Warren had never had surgery "or anything like that" before in his 12-year career. "I've been real lucky," he said. . . . S Brad Edwards (knee) and G Russ Grimm (arch) joined the injury list.

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