Williams adds image to game plan Lineman must fix untucked jersey

August 22, 1991|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Correspondent

HERNDON, Va. -- Defensive lineman Eric Williams has to worry about more than the X's and O's in the Washington Redskins' final exhibition game Saturday night.

He has to be concerned about something a little more elementary: keeping his shirt tucked in.

Williams was sent out of the Redskins' game against the Cleveland Browns Friday night by the officials because his jersey wasn't tucked in.

"They warned me about four times, but I'd tuck it in and then the guard would hold you and pull it out. When you've got tape on your hands, it sticks right to the tape again and it pulls it right out. I'm in the huddle and they said, 'You're out of here. We had to call a timeout to give me time to get off the field,' " Williams said.

Williams left when the Browns had a second-and-goal play at the Washington 6.

The Redskins had to call the timeout to avoid a delay-of-game penalty, but it didn't make much difference because Kevin Mack ran 6 yards for a touchdown.

"That's something. I've never seen anything like that before," said defensive line coach LaVern Torgeson. "The tough part was that they did it so late we didn't have time to get a substitute in and had to call a timeout. If they're going to do it, I think they ought to do it in time to get your players in there."

Williams said he thinks the NFL is getting a little carried away its emphasis on image.

"I agree it looks tacky when the shirt's out. But when you're in the heat of battle, I think this is the closest thing to civilized war you can have. It's like going to a man in the trenches and saying, 'Excuse, me, your camouflage is a little off. It clashes with your helmet.' It doesn't work with me. You shouldn't be kicked out of the game for it. They're into marketing. They want it to look nice," he said.

Williams, who knows he can't afford to cost the team any more timeouts, will bow to the league's wishes and wear Velcro inside his jersey to help keep his shirt tucked in this week.

Williams is the kind of player whose zest for the game makes it appropriate that he play with his jersey out.

"To me, it's a fantasy. I keep on waiting for mom to wake me up and say, 'Hey, pro football's over, Eric. It's time to go to work.' You can't take too many things too seriously, especially this game. It's a game," he said.

He even enjoys taking and getting the hard hits.

"Sometimes a lineman is peeling back on a screen and I get hit and land on my head. If I'm able to talk, I laugh. That's football. It's kind of fun. Next thing, you get to hit somebody like that," he said.

Two things Williams doesn't like about camp are training camp and the exhibition games.

"My biggest problem in preseason is motivation. There's nothing at stake except working on your own stuff. At the end of the year, you won't remember a preseason game at all except if you got hurt. I'm looking forward to the season," he said.

When he was in Detroit, he held out in four different seasons. One motivation was to miss camp. But he knows the Redskins frown on missing camp and agreed to a two-year contract at the start of camp this year.

"It's the first one I've made every practice. I hate camp. It's really hard for me to come to camp because of how I feel about preseason," he said.

Williams does concede that going through camp should help him this season.

"It helped to get me in better shape and gave me a chance to work on some techniques," he said.

Torgeson said that Williams has had a good camp.

"He's worked hard every day," he said.

A year ago at this time, Williams wasn't even on the team. The Lions traded him to the Redskins during the second week of the season.

A native of Stockton, Calif., he was disappointed that he wasn't ready to play in that second game in San Francisco. He also missed the last game against the 49ers when he was sidelined with a sprained arch.

"Two times we played San Francisco, and I was on the sidelines for both. They were the two games I wanted to play the most and on I'm on the sidelines," he said.

In between, he played 13 games and started eight of them. This HTC year, he nailed down a starting tackle job alongside Tim Johnson. The team is now so deep at tackle that both Darryl Grant and Tracy Rocker may be expendable.

Along with Johnson, Williams saw some duty at end in practice this week because Fred Stokes is ailing and the Redskins are down to two healthy ends -- Charles Mann and Markus Koch.

Williams said he likes the idea of seeing some action at end. He'd like it even better if he could play it without his jersey tucked in.

NOTES: Rookie tight end James Jenkins, who was sidelined last week with a sprained toe, is ready to play this week. He's the only rookie free agent who's still on the roster.

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