Redskins' Green hoping for speedy return to form CB running well after tough '92

July 23, 1993|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

CARLISLE, Pa. -- It was a familiar sight for the Washington Redskins.

Cornerback Darrell Green, who's made a career out of making big plays, intercepted a pass on the second-to-the-last play of practice yesterday and ran it into the end zone.

"He seems to be running real well," coach Richie Petitbon said after practice. "It looks like he walks with a limp, but he doesn't run with a limp. He's having a good camp. We hope that continues."

The interception was one more sign that Green, in his 11th season at age 33 is headed back from the injuries that cost him most of his last season. His return has been one of the most encouraging aspects of the first week of camp.

Green admits his heel is still sore, which explains the slight limp at times, but he's going full speed on the field.

He wants to put a tough 1992 behind him. After missing training camp in a holdout before signing what was then the best contract ever for a cornerback (an average of $1.5 million a year), Green broke his forearm in the second game of the season. It was feared he'd miss the entire season, but he was back after missing just eight games.

He was then hit by heel and knee injuries and missed the first playoff game and saw only limited action in the second.

"People still ask me, 'How's your arm?' but my arm healed right away. It was all the other problems [that took a long time to heal]," he said.

He proved he's running as fast as ever in minicamp when Petitbon asked all the players to participate in all the drills even if they weren't 100 percent.

"My heel was still hurting and I hadn't trained, but he came to me and said, 'I want you to run. Get out there and run,' " Green said.

All he did was run a 4.3 in the 40, which was better than the 4.33 he ran as a rookie and only slightly off the 4.15 that was his best time a few years back.

"I've still got it. I didn't expect to run that fast. I was surprised," he said.

Speed has always been his calling card.

"I was just naturally born fast," he said.

He's won the NFL's Fastest Man contest the four times he's entered it (he turned down an invitation this year because he was committed to attending a wedding) and ran track at Texas A&I, where his 10.08 clocking in the 100-meter -- was second to Carl Lewis as a senior.

"If I would have had the background and the opportunities, I probably could have been one of the fastest guys in the history of running. That may sound pompous, but I've always trained myself. I've never had a [running] coach," he said.

Green credits clean living for his longevity.

"I've never drunk a beer or smoked a cigarette and I've never done any kind of drugs," he said.

When the Redskins drafted cornerback Tom Carter in the first round last April, receivers coach Emmitt Thomas talked about Green playing "another couple of years" before Carter stepped in to replace him.

Green, who's third on the team's all-time list with 30 interceptions, likes to think Carter may have to wait a bit longer.

NOTES: The Ricky Ervins stalemate continues and he now seems certain to miss the entire first week of camp. . . . LB Carl Banks sprained an ankle Wednesday night and may not participate in tomorrow's scrimmage against the Pittsburgh Steelers. . . . Chris Hakel will get most of the duty in the scrimmage at quarterback because Cary Conklin is taking several days off to rest his tender knee. Mark Rypien will play only in the seven-on-seven drills before the scrimmage. . . . WR Desmond Howard will miss the scrimmage with a strained groin. . . . Carter is supposed to return to practice today after being sidelined with a tight hamstring and play in the scrimmage.

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