Spurrier, Redskins get ball rolling

Coach emphasizing offense at minicamp

March 27, 2002|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

ASHBURN, Va. - After a whirlwind three months during which he left the comfort of college in favor of a much-anticipated shot at the NFL, Washington Redskins coach Steve Spurrier got a chance to take the field for the first time yesterday with his team and do what many believe he does best - call plays.

Spurrier - whose arrival to the NFL has been as talked about as that of any college coach in recent history - and the Redskins opened a three-day minicamp at the team's training facility. The practices were light, but Spurrier still saw positives in his first glimpses.

"I think it is a pretty good bunch of guys," Spurrier said. "I enjoyed the way they practiced. They were hustling and trying as hard as we could. I think we are going to throw it around a little bit better than in the past around here. We just got to go do it."

The practices also marked the first time new defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis got a chance to see his players. Lewis, who held the same position with the Ravens the past six years before coming to Washington, did not have veteran cornerback Darrell Green (excused because of a planned vacation), but did have newly acquired linebacker Jessie Armstead to go with Pro Bowl linebacker LaVar Arrington, cornerback Champ Bailey and cornerback Fred Smoot.

"The guys are very energetic," Lewis said. "They were communicative. They've obviously got a lot of talent on the defensive team. It was a lot of fun, good to get out there and do football."

While the defense made a number of plays during the two practice sessions, the buzz was around Spurrier and his former college quarterback Danny Wuerffel. Wuerffel helped lead the Florida Gators to four Southeastern Conference titles and a national title.

Life has not been as grand since Wuerffel joined the NFL. He has played with three teams in his five season and has not thrown a regular-season pass since 1999. Still, Spurrier said he is comfortable going into the season with Wuerffel as the starter. The Redskins made a trade with the Houston Texans for Wuerffel earlier this month and are in the running for free-agent quarterback Jeff Blake.

"Sometimes I talk about my football career like the sine or cosine curve, it goes up and down," Wuerffel said. "I've had some great times and some down times, but that is what life is like."

Wuerffel and Spurrier had little time to reminisce. Players said Spurrier has already installed much of his playbook.

"We put in more plays in one meeting than I've ever seen in any offense," Wuerffel said. "I was thinking how will some of the guys adjust to this? You go to another team and you spend a week on three plays. You run them over and over. But we've got just about the entire playbook in one meeting."

Receivers Jacquez Green, Reidel Anthony and Chris Doering all made their Redskins debuts, and were all standouts under Spurrier at Florida.

Like Wuerffel, none of the three other players have had much success in the NFL and are hoping a return to Spurrier's system will mean a return to greatness.

"I was just ready for a fresh start. And it couldn't have come at a better time, going into my fifth season and a chance to play with Coach Spurrier again," said Green, who signed as a free agent out of Tampa Bay. "Each year it is a team that goes to the Super Bowl that nobody expects, so I think Washington can be that team this year."

NOTES: For the first time in his 10-year career, Armstead wore a different uniform than that of the New York Giants, but that did not stop him from commenting on what is going on with his former club.

Armstead said he did not understand why Giants running back Tiki Barber criticized end Michael Strahan's contract negotiations with the club.

Strahan reportedly wants a $17 million signing bonus, prompting Barber to call him greedy. Armstead, who was a salary cap casualty earlier this month, also made reference to his situation and how Barber said nothing.

"You do what you do to make your family happy," Armstead said. "Don't talk about another man's family.

"He didn't speak up when the team let another guy go and say you didn't like that. So if you aren't going to speak against the team, don't speak against the player. That's just an unwritten rule."

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