Suddenly, Redskins remember Bailey

With Westbrook hurt, former Georgia standout works off receiver rust

Pro Football

September 22, 2000|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

ASHBURN, Va. - Champ Bailey says he is faster now than he was in college.

"But the defensive backs [in the NFL] are faster, too," Bailey said.

He learned that while taking part in his first plays at wide receiver in Monday night's 27-21 loss to Dallas.

Bailey, who played cornerback and wide receiver at Georgia, got in for four plays against the Cowboys.

Redskins coach Norv Turner said before the season that Bailey would only play receiver if the team was desperate.

That point came Monday night when the Redskins played their first game without No. 1 receiver Michael Westbrook, whose loss moved the other receivers up a notch on the unofficial depth chart.

Albert Connell, who caught 62 passes for 1,132 yards and seven touchdowns last season, became the lone proven deep threat, while 38-year-old Irving Fryar, James Thrash and 36-year-old Andre Reed round out the group.

With Westbrook, it was not a bad bunch. But without him, Connell receives double-coverage and Fryar has to assume the role as the team's second option. At Fryar's age, that may be too much to ask.

Enter one of the two Redskins' wild cards in Bailey. Fellow cornerback Deion Sanders also played receiver in Dallas, but does not want to do so with the Redskins.

Bailey caught 47 passes for 744 yards and five touchdowns his last season at Georgia. Some publications had him ranked as high as the fifth-best receiver in the 1999 draft.

There was talk of Bailey playing both ways as a rookie last year. But with the offense peforming as well as it did (a No. 2 ranking), there was no need. Now, there is a big-time need.

The Redskins have not completed a pass longer than 26 yards this season. Fryar and Reed are not as fast as they once were, so Bailey could add some speed and big-play ability to an offense that has scored 51 points in three games.

"When Champ comes into the game, it's something special," said quarterback Brad Johnson.

At least that's what the Redskins hope. Monday, Bailey did draw an illegal-contact penalty on Cowboys cornerback Kareem Larrimore in the second quarter.

"I could have been a little bit more polished with my routes," Bailey said. `That's something I'm going to work on. If I'm going to play more, I'll polish my routes.

"When Michael went down, we were short at receiver. I hadn't played any receiver, but they felt I had the ability to do it. I hope they feel that way this week.

"I can be a deep-ball threat if they allow me to be. I can definitely get past some of these defensive backs and get deep."

If this experiment works, Bailey could give valuable rest to Fryar.

Turner said he will continue to work Bailey in at receiver, but would not specify how much.

"Champ got a pass-interference call the other day because guys are scared he is going to get behind him," Fryar said. "And that's a legitimate concern."

NOTES: Redskins defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield was arrested late Wednesday night and charged with domestic assault after an argument with his wife, according to police.

Stubblefield, 32, spent about 30 minutes at the Fairfax County adult detention center, where he was released close to midnight on a $2,500 unsecured bond with a 48-hour, no-contact agreement with his wife.

Police said the argument started over a piece of luggage, then escalated into a physical confrontation. Stubblefield, 6 feet 2, 315 pounds, will play Sunday.

Stubblefield said he did not put his hands on his wife. He is due to appear in court on Oct. 4.

"It was just a little argument," the player said. "I didn't realize that if the cops were called, I'd have to be taken down. I spent 30 minutes down there finger-printing, and I was home. Nobody got hurt. Nobody was drinking.

"I was upstairs on my way out and there [the police] were. It was just one of those deals you regret doing. ... "I went to Norv and told him it's not a distraction. My mind is on New York.

Fullback Larry Centers (elbow), tight end James Jenkins (neck) and guard Keith Sims (Achilles' tendinitis) missed practice yesterday. Centers and Jenkins are questionable for Sunday night's game, and Sims is probable. Center Cory Raymer, in only his second practice since tearing two ligaments in his knee during training camp, was carted off after re-aggravating the injury less than a half-hour into the workout. He will undergo further testing, but will be out at least the next two weeks. ... Cornerback Deion Sanders said he was disappointed fans booed owner Daniel M. Snyder at halftime of the team's loss to Dallas. "How could the fans treat Mr. Snyder the way they treated him," Sanders said. "I think that's absurd." Sanders signed a seven-year, $56 million contract last spring.

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