Hobbs strengthens his position Redskins receiver burns Patriots

August 12, 1991|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Correspondent

CARLISLE, Pa. -- When the Washington Redskins made Plan B free-agent wide receiver Stephen Hobbs an offer two years ago, he was surprised because the club already had Art Monk, Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders at his position.

"I was kind of stunned they wanted me to come here," Hobbs said. "I was kind of shocked. It was like an honor to come here."

Hobbs' resume wasn't impressive because he spent his rookie year on the Kansas City Chiefs' injured reserve list with a knee injury in 1988 and hadn't been drafted out of North Alabama.

The Redskins still decided to take a gamble on him.

It was a modest gamble because he got only a $35,000 signing bonus, but it looks like a good investment.

Hobbs appeared to nail down the fourth wide-receiver position behind Monk, Clark and Sanders Saturday night when he caught four passes, including a diving touchdown catch, in the Redskins' 27-6 exhibition victory over the New England Patriots at Foxboro Stadium before 16,757 fans.

The game climaxed a good training camp for Hobbs, who seems to have beaten out Walter Stanley and Joe Johnson. Stanley and Johnson appear to be fighting for the fifth spot, and the Redskins sometimes only keep four.

Hobbs, though, isn't taking anything for granted.

"I don't see them as being behind me," he said of Stanley and Johnson. "They're just as good as I am."

But coach Joe Gibbs sounds as if Hobbs has put himself in a good position.

"I think he's been pretty good all the way along. He made a believer out of me," Gibbs said.

Hobbs spent his first year with the Redskins in 1989 on the injured-reserve list with another knee injury and didn't make a good impression on Gibbs. "I didn't give him a chance," Gibbs said. "He was always hurt."

He also started last season on injured reserve, but was activated after clearing waivers late in the year. He returned six kicks for 92 yards and made his first NFL catch, an 18-yard touchdown pass, in the regular-season finale against the Buffalo Bills.

If the exhibition season is any indication, then Hobbs will see more action this season.

Meanwhile, Gibbs said the team took "a step up" with its showing against the Patriots, who fell behind and never recovered when Terry Hoage intercepted Hugh Millen's first pass and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown on the third play of the game.

Quarterback Mark Rypien showed no effects of the stiff back that bothered him during the week, as he completed seven of 11 passes for 109 yards.

Gibbs said his goal this week to to "continue to polish things" in the club's final week of camp before their only home exhibition game Friday night at RFK Stadium against the Cleveland Browns.

NOTES: The Houston Oilers are trying to deal holdout DE Sean pTC Jones to several teams, including the Redskins. GM Charley Casserly declined to comment, but a team source said the Redskins offered DT Tracy Rocker, who's expendable because of the team's depth at the position. The Oilers don't appear interested. . . . Rookie TE James Jenkins will be sidelined for practice today with a bruised toe he suffered against the Patriots.

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