Green ready to go as new quarterback on Redskins' block New starter came out of nowhere, like Frerotte

September 14, 1998|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

ASHBURN, Va. -- For now, the new starting quarterback of the Washington Redskins is a breath of fresh air -- charismatic, good-looking, a nice guy all around.

But the reaction to the ascent of Trent Green, making his first NFL start tonight against the San Francisco 49ers at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium, bears a faint resemblance to that of the man he's replacing.

Things were this way for Gus Frerotte, who made waves in 1994 as a rookie out of Tulsa and earned the starting job in 1996. He was the underdog alternative to the higher-paid Heath Shuler, who entered the league in the same year.

After Frerotte's two interceptions last week against the New York Giants, Green's relief performance (17-for-25, 202 yards) has made him the more likable alternative to the better-paid incumbent. Now he prepares to face one of the league's toughest teams under the league's brightest regular-season spotlight.

"I didn't know this was going to happen," Green said. "I got the opportunity and tried to do the best that I could. Obviously, I'm happy to have this opportunity, 'Monday Night Football' being a national exposure game."

Green, 28, is wise enough to know that the excitement about him -- a front-page story in the Washington Post on the day of the Starr Report -- might be a product of fate more than anything else, and is glad to have the support of Frerotte, who has been through it.

"We talked a lot and we know he's frustrated," said Green, who starred at Indiana before being drafted in 1993 by the San Diego Chargers, where he lasted a season before being released. "[Frerotte] was eight out of 10. In reality, he had a great game. He just had two missed throws."

Based upon Green's performance against the Giants, coach Norv Turner decided to switch from Frerotte, citing Green's mobility and the spark he gave the team after it fell down two touchdowns in the third quarter.

"He's been here for four years," Turner said. "That showed up on Sunday against the Giants."

Turner and Green pointed out that the new quarterback didn't come on to the field clueless and that won't be the case tonight, either. Since the Redskins picked him up in 1995, rescuing him from the Canadian Football League, he has absorbed the Redskins' offense while on the sidelines. "For three years, I've been able to hear the coaches in certain situations," he said. "This has really helped."

Of course, if Turner has his way, Green's performance won't be the most important factor in tonight's game. While preparing for the Giants game, he vowed to get Terry Allen the ball. Allen rushed 18 times for 67 yards and Turner says that Washington must run well to beat the 49ers.

"I liked the balance in the New York game," Turner said. "We mixed the run well. When we got down 14, it took us out of our game."

Still, it's partly exciting to go from afterthought status to 30 or 40 answering-machine messages, which Green said came to his home in two days after he was named the starter a week ago.

"This isn't normal," Green said, referring to the swarm of microphones and tape recorders pointed at his face. "It's been a little hectic but it's exciting."

Pub Date: 9/14/98

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