Redskins' Clark catches message, rejoins practice

November 05, 1992|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

ASHBURN, Va. -- When Joe Gibbs speaks, the Washington Redskins listen.

At least Gary Clark does.

That was the obvious conclusion yesterday when Clark, who often skips practice with his sore hamstrings, ran every offensive play as the Redskins started their drills for Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks.

"I was glad to see him get out there," Gibbs said. "We need a lot of work in the passing game."

Clark declined to comment on the situation as he simply shook his head as he left the field after practice.

Clark apparently got the message Gibbs sent Monday when the Redkins coach said that he might not play players who couldn't practice.

That was widely interpreted as a message for Clark because he's not playing well and the Redskins have Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard waiting in the wings.

By practicing, Clark limited Howard to the four wide-receiver drills. The Redskins haven't used the four wide-receiver set this year and Howard hasn't caught a pass. He's been mainly limited to duties on the special teams except for a cameo role in the rout against Denver Broncos.

Clark, noted as a fiery competitor, was visibly upset with his performance in Sunday night's 24-7 loss to the New York Giants. He sat on the bench staring at the ground long after the rest of the players had left the field. He caught only two passes.

Because the Redskins haven't scored an offensive touchdown in 11 quarters, Gibbs might decide to shake things up this week by using the four wide-receiver alignment.

The drawback of that set is that it limits protection for the quarterback, but the Seahawks aren't noted as a good pass-rushing team.

Meanwhile, Howard's being patient waiting his turn.

"I've had weeks I've practiced the whole week [when Clark sat out] and I didn't play on Sunday, so you never know," he said. "I think I anticipated it [limited duty]. Those guys are great receivers and they've been doing it year in and year out so they're going to keep going with them."

The only area in which Howard overshadows the Posse is in giving interviews. Like Clark, Ricky Sanders declined to comment yesterday and Art Monk rarely gives interviews.

Gibbs thinks that having Clark, Monk and Sanders going through the whole practice will help get the passing game in sync. He said it's been the most disappointing part of the offense so far.

"We're trying to do a little more stuff in practice with them. We're trying to work them in more individual stuff and before practice," Gibbs said.

While Gibbs had the Posse on the field yesterday, he still hasn't solved the Redskins' injury problem. Five players -- offensive linemen Joe Jacoby (neck) and Mark Schlereth (back), linebackers Kurt Gouveia (neck) and Monte Coleman (neck) and safety Danny Copeland (neck) -- all sat out yesterday.

Copeland and Gouveia were hurt on the same play against the Giants when they collided helmet-to-helmet trying to intercept a pass.

"I never had a sprained neck before," Gouveia said. "It's a weird feeling. I'm just glad it's sprained and not broken."

Gouveia's not sure if he'll be able play against Seattle.

"Coach Gibbs said if you don't practice, he doesn't want you to play. He's the boss. He holds the key," Gouveia said.

Gibbs, though, has indicated he's implementing his no-practice, no-play policy on an individual basis and there's no sign it applies to any players except Clark.

NOTES: Lonnie Carney, a boy whose bout with a rare genetic disease prompted calls last year from the Gibbs and QB Mark Rypien to wish him well, died. He was 13. Lonnie suffered from progeria, a disorder that caused him to age 10 times faster than normal. He died Oct. 29 at St. James Mercy Hospital in Hornell, near his hometown of Hartsville. Lonnie was a devoted Redskins fan. Gibbs learned of the boy's illness through U.S. Rep. Amory Houghton of Corning.

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