At LB, it's good, old Coleman

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

WASHINGTON -- Linebacker Monte Coleman wants to be judged by his ability, not by his age.

Coleman, who was a standout on defense in the Washington Redskins' 30-17 victory over the Atlanta Falcons yesterday, gets tired of hear- ing he's 36 years old.

"It makes me sensitive simply for the fact I view myself as an individual," he said. "I don't think 36 is very old in the real world. Of course, in football, it is kind of old, but I don't have a 36-year-old body. I'm not trying to boast on myself. It's just a fact.

"I think you've got to look at a person as an individual instead of putting him in an age group and saying, 'Well, when he reaches that age, he slows down automatically,' because it's not true."

Coleman credits his family's genes for his longevity.

"I eat a lot of ice cream before I go to bed. People would be surprised at my diet. I basically eat what I want to eat," he said.

Coleman, who started early in the season when Andre Collins was injured and then returned to the starting lineup yesterday when Carl Banks was injured, usually plays on passing downs and said he's improved with age.

"I think age has given me an opportunity to learn certain things. Before, I played a lot more mechanically," he said.

In his 15th year, Coleman hopes to be back for a 16th, and coach Richie Petitbon said he thinks he can do it next year.

"I think he's had a great year," Petitbon said. "He usually has good years, but this has been one of his best. He's given a lot of leadership to the football team, and today was the icing on the cake. He's just a tremendous guy, a tremendous athlete."

Cornerback Darrell Green said: "I want to be like him when I grow up. He's probably like 45 years old. My hat's off to him. He's got to be the defensive MVP this season."

Rookie defensive lineman Sterling Palmer said: "It's an honor playing with Monte. . . . When I was just a little guy, he was out there playing. It's an inspiration just to know that you have a guy who people sometimes say is too old out there thrashing people."

He needed that

This has not been a season to remember for A. J. Johnson.

He got a starting cornerback job when Martin Mayhew moved to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a free agent, but lasted only three games before being benched for rookie Tom Carter. When Carter was injured, Alvoid Mays became the starter, and Johnson remained a nickel back. Last week, Johnson was inactive because of a sprained neck.

That's why it was so satisfying when he returned an interception 69 yards for a touchdown in the second period.

"After all the stuff I've been through this year, I think I needed that one," Johnson said. "I don't think I started off [the season] playing very well. It's been very frustrating because of getting benched. I really didn't like that. I'm a professional, and I've got to understand I got benched for a reason. I wasn't playing that well."

Johnson said the Redskins were in the perfect defense on his touchdown play, when he stepped in front of Mike Pritchard.

"I did see him [quarterback Bobby Hebert] throwing it. I don't know why he threw it. Maybe he didn't see me," he said.

Hebert said: "I really misjudged where he was set up."

Johnson pulled his hamstring on the long run and was sidelined the rest of the game, although he expects to be back next week.

Chip's shots

Chip Lohmiller, who has made 12 of 22 field-goal attempts, continued to struggle. He was wide left on a 42-yard attempt. He also just barely got a fourth-period extra point over the crossbar.

Lohmiller apparently misses his holder from last year, Jeff Rutledge. He started the season with Mark Rypien as his holder. When Rypien was injured, Pat Eilers took over, and then when Eilers got hurt, Rypien returned.

Rypien took the blame for the problems yesterday, although he said it didn't help that Lohmiller bruised his ribs on a kickoff.

"He's also going through a process of a new holder," Rypien said. "I'll be the first to admit I'm not rock solid back there. I'm trying to do the best I can. It's not the smoothest of operations. It's very difficult for a kicker. Take the heat off Chip. He's playing hurt. He's in very difficult circumstances."

DO-IT-ALL DEFENDER

In yesterday's 30-17 win over Atlanta, Washington's Monte Coleman did just about everything a defensive player can do in a game. Here's a look at his day:

Tackles: 8

Sacks: 2

Interceptions: 1

Forced fumbles: 1

Recovered fumbles: 1

Touchdowns: 1

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