Redskins' Ervins reports, looks for starting spot Holdout doesn't improve offer

August 06, 1993|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

CARLISLE,PA. — CARLISLE, Pa. -- Running back Ricky Ervins of the Washington Redskins, declaring, "I live for pressure, I love pressure," ended his 18-day holdout yesterday and now faces the pressure of making up for lost time as he aims for a starting job.

Ervins accepted the same one-year deal at $450,000 (plus an incentive package that could make it worth $700,000) that was on the table when the Redskins started camp July 18.

His agent, Ray Newman, opened the talks asking for $2.5 million and still wanted more than $1 million when camp opened, but Ervins didn't have any leverage because he's not a free agent and his production dropped off in his second year.

Ervins, who twice said he was "sorry" about the holdout, said, "Iwas anxious to get in from the start. It just so happened that he just wanted to hold me out and I was like, 'well, do what you've got to do, but I'm ready to go in.' "

The Redskins were so determined to hold the line that general manager Charley Casserly didn't even call Newman once camp started.

Newman called Casserly once the first two weeks and then called him Tuesday night and twice on Wednesday and got the same message: the Redskins weren't budging. Newman then called again at noon yesterday to say Ervins was accepting the contract. He arrived at camp about 6 p.m.

Newman, who didn't return phone calls, told Casserly that he still didn't like the numbers, but felt it was time for Ervins to start playing football.

Casserly also had the option under the new anti-holdout rules of sending Ervins a letter next Monday that would have forced Ervins to miss the regular-season opener against the Dallas Cowboys if he didn't report by next Friday -- the day before the second preseason game.

Ervins said: "That [threat of a] letter had nothing to do with me coming back. I was ready to come in in the first place."

Coach Richie Petitbon said Ervins arrived just in time.

"I think this is a good time for him to come back. We wish it had been earlier, but I don't think we've lost that much. I'm sure he'll be able to make up any time he's missed. He figures prominently in our plans," he said.

The Redskins plan to use a platoon system for running backs Brian Mitchell, Reggie Brooks, Earnest Byner and Ervins.

Ervins, whose rushing total dropped from 680 yards in 1991 to 495 last year, said he hopes to win the starting job.

"I'm not looking to be a backup anymore," he said.

"Last year, I just wanted to be a backup and I didn't work out as hard. This year, I wanted to come in and be a starter."

Of his drop-off last year, Ervins said, "I don't consider it a drop-off. We had a lot of injuries. Of course, I wasn't happy with my performance. I think the whole team had a pretty down year, not just myself."

Petitbon said, "It's hard to say [why he dropped off]. Sophomore-itis? Who knows? It happens to a lot of people. I don't think our team was as good as it was two years ago. That might have a little something to do with it."

The Redskins now have all their players in camp before their first preseason game Monday night against the Cleveland Browns.

NOTES: The Redskins still have several thousand tickets available for the game against Cleveland on Monday night, which means the game, scheduled for national television on ABC-TV, will be blacked out in Washington. If a game isn't sold out 72 hours before kickoff (which is 8 p.m. tonight), the blackout isn't lifted. . . . Unlike most teams, the Redskins don't make it mandatory for season-ticket holders to buy tickets for preseason games.

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