Conklin passes muster in first starting test

Redskins notebook

September 20, 1993|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- Quarterback Cary Conklin used just one word to describe his first NFL start yesterday: "bittersweet."

Conklin played well enough to win, but the Washington Redskins lost, 34-31, to the Philadelphia Eagles on the late heroics of Randall Cunningham.

"I think I played pretty well. I was happy with it. But you're always sad when you lose. It's just really sick to lose that one the way we did," Conklin said.

Although Conklin couldn't celebrate because the team lost, even coach Richie Petitbon, who didn't sound too enthusiastic about being forced to use Conklin when Mark Rypien injured his knee last week, saluted Conklin's effort.

"For a first-time starter, he did enough to win a football game," Petitbon said.

Conklin made mistakes that were typical for a player starting his first NFL game. He was intercepted twice, including one pass that Eric Allen picked off and ran in for a touchdown.

But he also completed 17 of 36 passes for 218 yards and three touchdowns and left little doubt that he can play in the league.

There was speculation that Petitbon might pull Conklin for veteran Rich Gannon if he didn't play well, but he erased a lot of doubts yesterday.

"There's always a little doubt until you finally get out and play. I know I can do it. I have confidence I could go out there and do the job. It was just a matter of getting the opportunity," Conklin said.

Reggie! Reggie!

The Reggie Brooks era started yesterday.

Brooks looked good in spots in the first two games as he got 74 yards in 16 plays, and the Redskins decided they wanted to see more of him.

Even owner Jack Kent Cooke suggested last week that he should get more action, and the coaches agreed.

The team's second-round draft pick responded by gaining 154 yards in 22 carries, including an 85-yard touchdown run. He's obviously won the starting job.

Petitbon said: "We think the world of him. I think that's something that people are going to get used to seeing. I think the kid is going to be a great back. We really like him."

Brian Mitchell started, but was phased out. He gained 7 yards in six carries. He declined to comment after the game.

Brooks credited the linemen for opening the holes for him.

"I knew I was going to get a lot of playing time, but I didn't know it was going to be this much. I was ready for it. The guys up front did a heck of a job. You have to give a lot of credit to them. They do the blocking. I just run," he said.

On his 85-yard touchdown run, he credited Ron Middleton and Raleigh McKenzie for making key blocks.

"It was clear sailing," he said.

Brooks said the loss wiped out a lot of the satisfaction.

"This puts us in a good hole," he said. "Hopefully, we'll dig our way out of it."

Carter's coverage?

Rookie Tom Carter, the Redskins' top pick, appeared to be the victim on Calvin Williams' winning touchdown catch, but he just broke toward Williams and was actually covering the corner in a zone.

"I was just trying to make a play," he said. "He [Cunningham] was sitting back there in the pocket and people were crossing all over the place," he said.

Injury update

The Redskins' injury problems continue to mount.

They had figured Mark Schlereth would be able to start at guard even though he didn't practice all week, but his knee was so sore yesterday that he had to sit out. McKenzie played in his place and veteran Jeff Bostic moved over to center. The Redskins will take another look at Schlereth's knee today.

Defensive lineman Charles Mann is another player whose knee is a concern. He'll have an exam today after being forced out yesterday.

The surprise was that veteran Joe Jacoby was able to go all the way at left tackle because Moe Elewonibi was sidelined with a hamstring pull.

The only offensive line backups the Redskins have left are Darryl Moore, who played in his first game yesterday on special teams, and veteran Guy Bingham, who's the long snapper. They also have rookie Greg Hungington on the inactive list.

McGee's a whiz

Tim McGee, the free agent from Cincinnati who caught only two passes in the first two games, hauled in six passes for 93 yards and a touchdown.

"I caught only one pass in the Dallas game and I was the happiest guy on the team. I came here to help the team win and we didn't accomplish that. I wanted the W," he said.

When Cunningham led the final drive, McGee said he was reminded of Joe Montana's winning drive against the Bengals in the Super Bowl.

Catching up

Art Monk, who was demoted to the No. 3 receiving spot this year, caught three passes for 39 yards and stretched his consecutive game string to 151 straight.

Desmond Howard played briefly and caught his first pass of the season, but remains the No. 4 receiver.

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