CARLISLE, Pa. -- Imagine telling your travel agent that you're going to pass up a trip to Barcelona for the bright lights of Bethlehem, Pa.
In effect, that's what defensive end Shane Collins, the Washington Redskins' second-round draft choice, did this year.
Collins had a chance to make the Olympic team as a shot-putter, but decided to bypass the opportunity so he wouldn't miss time in the Redskins training camp.
That's why he'll be at Lehigh College in Bethlehem tomorrow for the Redskins rookie scrimmage against the New York Jets instead of in Barcelona for the Olympics' opening ceremonies.
"This is a very important time for a rookie to be here in training camp," Collins said. "I decided it was better to concentrate on this."
Collins finished his shot-put career -- for now -- by finishing second in the NCAA meet this spring with a throw of just more than 64 feet. He passed up the Olympic Track and Field Trials, where it took a throw of more than 67 feet to make the team.
If he had stuck to it, Collins said, he could have won a berth in Barcelona.
"In mid-season training, I was at 67-68 feet," he said. "If I could have trained the way I wanted to, 70 wasn't an unrealistic mark for me."
Collins, 23, decided after the Redskins' first mini-camp to give up the Olympic quest.
"It wasn't feasible to be able to train [for the shot put and stay in football shape]. Before that point, I was throwing really well. That [mini-camp] kind of took my legs out of me. They [football and the shot put] just didn't mix that well," he said.
Collins said he will have no second thoughts when he watches the Olympics on television.
"I'm looking forward to seeing who wins," he said, "but I don't have any regrets. I made the decision, the best one for myself."
He said the Redskins put no pressure on him, but he would have been behind in camp if he had made the Olympic team. He admitted money was a factor, too.
"Football is a lot tougher than throwing the shot, that's for sure," he said. "If they were paying millions of dollars to throw the shot, I'd probably be the first one in line."
Collins, who signed a three-year deal worth $1.54 million, said he still will have another chance to throw the shot. "I think a guy can throw when he's 30-35 years old," he said.
The 6-foot-3, 270-pounder from Arizona State could have been a first-round pick if he hadn't suffered a severe knee injury in the 1990 opener against Baylor. He underwent reconstructive surgery on his right knee and missed all of that season and the start of the 1991 season.
RF Although he's completely recovered, he said, "I felt I should have
gone higher [in the draft], but I think every guy thinks that. Missing my junior year killed me."
LaVern Torgeson, Redskins defensive line coach, said: "He's coming along real well. He's showing us what we thought he had. I think he'll be able to help us this year.
"We'll spot him a lot, like we did with Bobby Wilson [the team's first pick in 1991] last year."
Collins, meanwhile, is starting out with modest goals.
"Right now, I just want to make the 47-man roster and take it one day at a time," he said.
NOTES: Practice lasted only 23 minutes in the rain yesterday afternoon before the Redskins were forced indoors by lightning. . . . Cornerback Darrell Green and offensive lineman Jim Lachey -- who both want contracts in the $2-million-a-year range -- seem ready to join quarterback Mark Rypien and top draft choice Desmond Howard on the holdout list when the veterans are due to report Sunday. Kick returner Brian Mitchell and offensive lineman Raleigh McKenzie also are unsigned, but the Redskins are hoping to get them signed by Sunday. . . . Running back Joe Mickles, a former Redskin who signed with the team as a free agent this year, suffered a severe setback in his long-shot attempt to make the team when he injured a knee Wednesday and underwent arthroscopic knee surgery yesterday. He'll likely be out three to six weeks.
Big 33 Classic
What: An annual football game between the top 33 graduating high school seniors from Maryland and those from Pennsylvania.
When: Tomorrow, 7 p.m. Gates open, 5:30 p.m.
Where: Hersheypark Stadium, Hershey, Pa.
Directions: I-83 north to Harrisburg, Pa., take route 322 east (Hershey). Follow to route 39 west to Hersheypark.
Tickets: $8 reserved seating, $5 general admission.
The series: This is the eighth and final game between Maryland and Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania leads the series, 5-2. Maryland won last year, 17-9.
Local players to watch: L James Easterly (Wilde Lake), LB Brent Guyton (Wilde Lake), TE Bernard Hopkins (Overlea), L Marty Kuser (John Carroll), DE Anthony Walker (North County), QB Phil White (Wilde Lake) and DB Andre Martin (Wilde Lake). Martin and WR Jermaine Lewis (Eleanor Roosevelt) are on the Maryland squad and have signed with the University of Maryland.