Redskins youngsters gain moral victory Squad ties Jets in scrimmage, 23-23

July 26, 1992|By Warner Hessler | Warner Hessler,Special to The Sun

BETHLEHEM PENNSYLVANIA — BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs was looking for his rookie-dominated squad to gain experience yesterday, and he got a week's worth in a little more than two hours.

Along the way he picked up a moral victory in a 23-23 tie against the veteran-laden New York Jets in a scrimmage before 8,321 at Lehigh University.

The Redskins' Chip Lohmiller, who reported to camp Friday, kicked a 52-yard field goal on the final play for the tie. He was successful earlier from 52 and 50 yards.

"You want to win every time you play," said Redskins running backs coach Don Breaux, "but today it was nice seeing our youngsters do good things against a team that brought all of its veterans."

"I gained a lot of confidence today by playing and tying some of the best players in the world," said Jon Heidenreich of Washington, a free-agent offensive tackle.

"You really don't know if you can play at this level until you get out there and try it."

The Jets, who opened camp two weeks ago and brought 80 players to scrimmage the Redskins' 44 rookies and marginal veterans, had seven sacks -- three against Cary Conklin and four against Chris Hakel.

But Conklin, who will be given every chance to become Mark Rypien's backup this season, managed to complete eight of 11 passes that helped produce an opening 52-yard field goal by Lohmiller and a 1-yard touchdown dive by rookie Robert Green of William and Mary.

Hakel, a fourth-round draft choice from William and Mary, suffered two quick sacks before being instructed to call more rollout passes. He then completed eight of 11 passes for 94 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown pass to rookie tight end Ray Rowe midway through the final 10-play series of the 40-play scrimmage.

"I tried not to get caught up in the pressure, and when we started moving the pocket, I found I could get more time to throw," said Hakel, the second-leading passer in school history. "Things happen a lot quicker here than in college. Overall, though, I was pleased with the way I played."

And so were the coaches. Before the scrimmage, Gibbs said he was looking for Hakel to show poise and toughness against what was certain to be a strong rush from the Jets.

"Hakel was a little shaky at the start," Gibbs said, "but he rightedhimself and made some good plays. He showed a lot of poise and threw well on the move."

Hakel established himself as a quarterback worth developing on the final 10-play series that began with New York holding a 23-13 lead. On a third-and-17, he eluded two rushers and hit rookie Gary Melton on a 28-yard timing pass along the sidelines. Two plays later, he looked off veteran free safety Erik McMillan and passed 18 yards to Rowe for the touchdown.

"The safety just dropped off and left me all alone," said Rowe, a sixth-round draft pick from San Diego State.

"I was jumping up and down inside," Hakel said, "but I tried to appear calm because we were still behind."

With three plays remaining, Hakel passed 9 yards to rookie Paul Peters, scrambled 5 yards for a first down, and Lohmiller came in to salvage the tie.

The Jets scored their points on a 3-yard pass from Jeff Blake to Chris Burkett, a 1-yard run by Pat Chaffey, and field goals of 51 and 36 yards by Jason Staurovsky and 32 yards by Raul Allegre.

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