Under Samuels' tutelage, Winey gives Redskins line big boost

Tackle has zero penalties, allows no sacks in 1st start

Pro Football

December 06, 2003|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

ASHBURN, Va. - Brandon Winey was a little surprised at how easy it all was.

In his first NFL start on Sunday, the Washington Redskins offensive tackle was having little trouble keeping New Orleans Saints defensive end Darren Howard - who has recorded 28 sacks since 2000 - away from quarterback Tim Hasselbeck early in the game.

But just in case Winey started to feel complacent, Chris Samuels, the Redskins' usual left tackle and two-time Pro Bowl player, pulled Winey aside every time he came off the field.

"Chris kept telling me: `Keep your head up. Keep your eyes open because he's just baiting you. He wants to catch you asleep. Then he's going to come with his best,' " Winey recalled. "[Howard] came with them all, and I was in the right position at the right time."

Winey's performance has been a pleasant surprise for a beleaguered offensive line that has struggled with handling blitzes and committing penalties.

Since Winey has been paired with rookie guard Derrick Dockery for the past two games, the left side of the offensive line has yielded just one sack and committed no penalties. That one sack was two weeks ago.

With Samuels (sprained right knee) expected to miss tomorrow's contest against the New York Giants (4-8) at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. at 1 p.m., Winey is expected to make his second consecutive start.

"Brandon Winey played well," said Washington coach Steve Spurrier. "He's filled in admirably."

Winey's road to the NFL has been a meandering one. The Louisiana State alum was selected by the Miami Dolphins in the sixth round of the 2001 draft.

After three months on the Dolphins' practice squad, Winey was signed by the Denver Broncos, who waived him just before the start of the 2002 season.

Winey traveled to Seattle, where he spent one week before his nagging back spasms forced the Seahawks to agree to an injury settlement before releasing him.

"I was at home [in Louisiana] working out on my own and just waiting for somebody to pick me up," he said. "I feel like I'm an OK player good enough to play in this league."

The opportunity came on Aug. 2 when the Redskins signed Winey. Since then, Winey has learned from Samuels and starting right tackle Jon Jansen.

When Samuels went down with a knee injury in the second quarter of Washington's 24-23 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Nov. 23, Winey was the first man off the bench.

"I knew what type of talent Brandon had just from watching him practice," Samuels said. "He's a smart guy, too. He learned all of his plays. He just went out there and did what he [had to] do."

Winey said that because his play against the Saints was so stellar, the coaching staff began to scale back its scheme of having the tight end and running back help out with blocking Howard.

"It feels good," Winey said of the coaches' confidence in him. "But my thing is, I feel I haven't reached my full ability. I feel like I have a long way to go."

Next for Redskins

Matchup: Washington Redskins (4-8) vs. New York Giants (4-8)

Site: Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.

When: Tomorrow, 1 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 5/WNAV (1430 AM), WJFK (106.7 FM)

Line: Giants by 3

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