In dog of year, 'Skins try kangaroo court Players punish mistakes with push-ups in effort to improve on 1-7 record

November 08, 1998|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

The 1-7 Washington Redskins have decided to take their case to court every day in practice to prevent the team from falling out of sight in the NFC East Division standings.

A kangaroo court, that is.

"It's like a self-discipline, self-policing kind of thing that makes people take responsibility for their mistakes and brings the team closer together," said left guard Tre Johnson. "If you miss a block, drop a pass, run the wrong route, jump offsides or have a false start, you have to drop down and do 10 or 20 push-ups."

The court has been an easy fit for the 6-foot-2, 326-pound Johnson, who talked often about players being held accountable for their errors during the season-opening 0-7 fiasco.

But it was always vocal wide receiver Leslie Shepherd who started the drill-sergeant type of discipline around Redskin Park.

"I started it for the receivers during the bye week, and it's already produced one win," said Shepherd. "We made a big deal out of it. Our rule is if you touch a ball, you should catch it. Then the offensive line started to make each other do push-ups, and it has pretty much caught on for the entire team."

Shepherd said the quarterbacks are not yet in the push-up games.

However, starting quarterback Trent Green said he, Gus Frerotte and Casey Weldon are not exempt.

"I haven't had to drop down once yet," said Green. "And I'm hoping I don't have to."

Unlike the great Orioles teams of the late 1960s and early '70s, who had a kangaroo court presided over by Frank Robinson, who dished out fines after games, there are no judges or fines for the Redskins' court.

Just push-ups.

"You can argue all you want," said Trent Green. "But you can't get out of the push-ups because it's usually five against one. You might have a defense if it was one on one."

When asked what coach Norv Turner has said about players getting down and doing push-ups in the middle of practice, the quarterback said, "He hasn't said a thing, but I know he's all for it as long as it doesn't interrupt the normal flow of practice. It makes guys focus."

Turner smiled when asked about the fun and games during practice.

"I'd rather not see guys doing push-ups," said Turner. "Because I wish they weren't dropping balls and jumping offsides. But when you're struggling like we have been, you can either make practice fun or miserable. Our guys have decided to make it fun."

The lingering question about the kangaroo court is whether it will survive if Washington should return to its losing ways today against the 4-4 Arizona Cardinals at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe (Chs 45, 5, 4 p.m.).

Shepherd didn't even want to think about it.

"Everybody loves the feeling we had last week with the win over the Giants," he said. "We don't want to go back to the first seven weeks."

Even the eternal optimist, 38-year-old Darrell Green, said things got so bad during the 0-7 start that he "thought about retiring for the first time ever."

"It wasn't a major thought," said the seven-time Pro Bowl player. "But you do get tired of answering the same questions over and over. There is only one answer, and that is winning. Fortunately, I had a good family to go home to, and I could slam my door shut."

Washington (1-7) at Arizona (4-4)

Time: 4: 05 p.m., chs. 45, 5.

Line: Cardinals by 4 1/2 .

Vs. spread: Redskins 1-7; Cardinals 4-4.

Outlook: After getting their first victory, Redskins players began looking at their schedules and marking off winnable games. However, this remains the same team that has managed 16 points or fewer in six of its eight games. Twice before this season, the Cardinals have blown their chance to go over the .500 mark for the first time in three years. This time could be the charm because Arizona, which leads the league with 25 takeaways, faces one of the NFL's most generous teams -- Washington's minus-13 turnover margin is the league's worst.

Notable: The last time the Cardinals reached the midpoint of the season at .500, in 1991, they lost their last eight games.

Injuries:

REDSKINS: Out: S Jesse Campbell (knee); DT Dana Stubblefield (knee). Doubtful: RB Terry Allen (ankle); G Joe Patton (hamstring). Questionable: LB Antwuane Ponds (knee). Probable: TE Stephen Alexander (shoulder); DT Marc Boutte (ankle); S Leomont Evans (toe).

CARDINALS: Out: T Anthony Clement (back); DT Eric Swann (knee). Questionable: CB Tom Knight (hamstring). Probable: G Chris Dishman (neck); CB Ty Howard (knee); S Kwamie Lassiter (rib); WR Eric Metcalf (leg); RB Adrian Murrell (calf); DT Mark Smith (ankle); CB Aeneas Williams (neck).

Pub Date: 11/08/98

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