Redskins bid Gardener pleasant welcome

But defensive tackle isn't checking emotions at door

August 07, 2002|By Warner Hessler | Warner Hessler,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

CARLISLE, Pa. - Daryl Gardener said he checked his excess baggage at the entrance to Biddle Field before he walked through the gates Monday morning for his first practice with the Washington Redskins.

Coach Steve Spurrier, when asked about the baggage Gardener brought with him from Miami, gave an innocent look and asked, "What baggage?" And so it went, with Gardener and his new teammates claiming that Monday was a fresh start for the Pro Bowl-level defensive tackle who wore out his welcome after six years in Miami and was released two weeks ago by the Dolphins.

"He's been fine here," Spurrier said. "I don't know what you're talking about."

Said fellow defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson: "He seems happy here and, believe me, we're happy to have him. What happened in the past has nothing to do with what's happening here."

Maybe not, but what happened in the past is why he's here, why he was able to sign with the Redskins last week. Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt released Gardener after he missed several minicamps and workout sessions and didn't return phone calls from the coach over the past two months.

When asked if he had any regrets over the way he handled things in Miami, Gardener said he had just one. He wished he had returned at least one of Wannstedt's calls. "I think I should have called the head coach so he wouldn't cry," he said.

Though Gardener tried to stay vanilla during his first session with the Washington media, he was still boastful at times, moody at times and very aware of what his run-stuffing, gap-shooting abilities can mean to a team that has a hole at right tackle.

"The defensive line is going to be straight nasty now," he said. "The linebackers are going to love us. Every last one of them is going to the Pro Bowl, and I expect a Rolex watch from each and every one of them."

Defensive line coach Ricky Hunley got Gardener on the field immediately. He started alongside Wilkinson with the first unit and spent most of the day in the offensive backfield.

NOTES: Word out of San Francisco is that 49ers coach Steve Mariucci believes Spurrier was running up the score in the Redskins' 38-7 win in the season's first preseason game on Saturday. In the final three minutes, Spurrier ordered a pass that went for a 44-yard touchdown.

It's a charge Spurrier heard when he was coaching at Duke and Florida, and it's a charge he doesn't dispute.

Monday, when Mariucci's complaint was relayed to him, Spurrier smiled and hinted that it was the 49ers' fault he scored that last touchdown.

"It was fourth-and-one, and they had eight or nine guys [at the line of scrimmage]," he said. "It's tough to run in a situation like that. We called a short pass and he [Darnerian McCants] broke a tackle and went all the way." ...

A source close to the negotiations said quarterback Patrick Ramsey, the team's first-round draft choice, is on the verge of ending a holdout that reached 16 days yesterday. It's believed Ramsey will eventually sign a five-year contract worth about $4.25 million with a bonus of around $3 million.

That part was agreed to two weeks ago. The hang-up was over whether Ramsey's base salary would nearly triple to more than $2 million if he became a starter in his second year. It's believed that Ramsey's agent, Jimmy Sexton, countered with an offer in which Ramsey, should he win the starting job in 2002 or 2003, would have to hold the starting job for another season before the big money kicked in.

Warner Hessler is a reporter for the Daily Press of Newport News, Va., a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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