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  • Bringing back the Hogs?

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    The Redskins organization took a huge step towards bringing something special back to the fans, “The Hogs”. The Redskins, on March 1st, 2003, signed free agent guard Dave Fiore to a four-year deal. In signing Fiore, they began assembling a “Hog-esque” offensive line, something that has been lacking in Washington for years. Fiore, a three-year starter with the San Francisco 49ers, has played all five offensive line positions. Fiore was a salary cap casualty with the 49ers, something that seems to happen every year with them, as they again seem to have let a high caliber player walk away. The 28-year old New Jersey native and Hofstra grad has started 53 of 59 games in his NFL career and prior to last season he had missed a total of one game over three seasons.

    Described as steady and versatile, Dave Fiore is considered to be one of the top offensive linemen in the NFL. The Sporting News Scouting Report gives him a 7.6 rating out of a possible 10. That rating corresponds with a player who is close to being an elite player and will usually rank among the top 20 in the league at their position. Fiore is very athletic and is a tenacious blocker on both the run and pass. He is also very strong. In fact, while with the 49ers, he set a team record by bench pressing 225 pounds 42 times. Another intangible that Fiore brings to the team and more importantly helps fuel the talk of a new generation of “The Hogs”, is what he did in 2001 while playing Atlanta. All he did was start and play the entire game at right guard despite suffering a fourth degree shoulder separation in the first quarter. Fiore’s versatility comes from the fact that he has played each of the five offensive line positions effectively.

    Dave Fiore’s strongest position is at the left guard. He said at the press conference that announced his signing with the Redskins that it was a promise made by the coaching staff that ultimately led him to sign with the team. That promise was that he would be able to play one position and not be forced to continue the revolving position game that he faced in San Francisco. That position would be the left guard. Regarding the chance to play one position, Fiore was quoted as saying “That was one of the things that drove me here. I thought I had the chance to play one position and stay with it.” Another factor also was being able to line up beside one of the NFL’s premier offensive tackles, Chris Samuels. Fiore was also quoted as saying “The Redskins welcomed me and were eager to have me here. I like the aggressiveness here, I like the willingness to win.”

    While enjoying the thankless job of the interior line, Fiore has remained relatively healthy and like many of his linemen brethren his main problems have come from his knees. His knees have caused him problems throughout his career. He has had at least two reconstructive knee surgeries on each leg. The most recent was following the Redskins-49ers game last September when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Fiore has not played since suffering the injury against the Redskins but has been rehabbing the knee and is anxious for the offseason workouts to begin.

    The guard position that Fiore was signed to fill has been long ignored by the Redskins in both the draft and free agency. In the last three seasons, the Redskins have started 14 different guards. So much for the continuity necessary for an offensive line to prosper. The signing of Fiore as well as free agent guard Randy Thomas (both players were considered the two best free agent guards available), not to mention the book end tackles, Samuels and Jon Jansen have given the Redskins one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. The excitement of having this offensive line has the fans as well as the entire organization eagerly awaiting the opening of training camp but even more to the opening game against the New York Jets. One individual who is smiling about the reality of adding a player with the magnitude of Fiore is Offensive Line Coach Kim Helton. Helton was so excited in fact that he smoked a cigar at the press conference to announce Fiore’s signing. Helton was quoted as saying, “I’ve never smoked anything in my life, but today I took a couple puffs of a cigar. I am really excited.”

    Fiore’s addition to the offensive line is a huge step in the direction that all Redskin fans want to see made and that is toward the playoffs. He is known as a good run blocker and a highly aggressive pass protector which means that given the Spurrier offense, he should be a integral part of the revamped “Hogs”. With Fiore teaming up with All Pro Tackle Chris Samuels, the right side of the offensive line should make second year signal caller, Patrick Ramsey, comfortable. That would be a luxury that Redskin quarterbacks haven’t enjoyed for several years.

    Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Les Barnhart

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    Profiles: Chad Morton

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    When Chad Morton signed a 5 year $8 million deal with the Redskins this offseason, Washington gained its best return man since Brian Mitchell left town. With a career kick return average of almost 25 yards (24.4 YPR), Morton also has big play ability having scored 96 and 98 yard TD’s last season (both in season opener against Buffalo). But ask Chad Morton what he wants to do on the football field and you may be surprised at the answer. Chad just wants to be a running back.

    All of his life, he’s just wanted to be a running back.

    As a sophomore in high school, he started part-time as a running back and developed his love for the position. But he was moved to wide receiver for his junior season and he spent the entire year there. He was ready to start at running back in his senior season but he broke is collarbone in the first quarter of the first game of the season.

    In fact at that point, exactly where Chad’s football career would go was anybody’s guess. Big college recruiters weren’t exactly beating down the door to woo a guy who hadn’t played a single half as a senior.

    But football is in the Morton blood. Chad’s older brother Johnnie was at USC at the time and was establishing himself as one of the best receivers in Trojan history. The boys’ father, Johnnie Morton Sr., put a highlight tape together of Chad’s previous high school seasons and brought them to the USC’s coaches. Whether by talent or nepotism, USC offered Chad a scholarship.

    Early days were tough as a redshirt freshman. He once said in a college interview that “I felt like I was a walk-on, like I didn’t really belong. I didn’t feel I was part of the Trojan family yet. I was on the side and trying to get in.” He was also moved to cornerback due to his size. People have always underestimated him because of his size.

    When spring practices were started in 1996, Chad was moved back to running back. But a sprained knee slowed him down and when fall practices rolled around, he was back to cornerback. Despite that, injuries to two USC running backs, forced Chad into a 3rd string tailback position early in the season. He also started to see some special teams play. All of a sudden, he was a 3-way player. In one game against Illinois, he had 3 tackles, 9 carries for 28 yards and a touchdown, recovered a fumble and had an 11-yard punt return. He played exclusively on offense for one game against Oregon and he posted 143 yards on 13 carries including a game-breaking 73-yard touchdown run. He would see limited offensive action in one more game that season before moving back to defense exclusively.

    When USC told Chad that he’d be changing positions again in 1997, his excitement was short-lived… still not to running back. He was being moved from cornerback to free safety. It proved to be a good move. By the 5th game of the season, he was a starter and would start the next 4 games. Then he was moved to tailback for 3 games. And all the while, he was starring on special teams. When 1997 was over, despite nagging injuries for the second half of the season, Chad had put up some impressive, diverse numbers. He made 25 tackles, had a 6-yard sack, intercepted 2 passes which he returned 32 yards (16.0 avg.), recovered 2 fumbles, forced a fumble (which he recovered) and broke up 5 passes on defense, and he also rushed for 214 yards (third on USC) on 30 carries (7.1 avg.) with 1 TD and caught 1 pass for 17 yards on offense. He capped off the season by receiving USC’s Bob Chandler Award as the top underclassman athlete/student/leader.

    In his junior season, Chad finally would get what he wanted so badly. He started 8 games at tailback, and only an injury keeping him out of two games prevented him from posting a 1000-yard rushing season. He ran up 985 yards on 199 carries for a 4.9-yard average and had 6 TD’s. He also established himself as a good receiving back catching 18 passes for 136 yards and a TD. He was a 1998 All-Pac-10 honorable mention pick.

    His senior season held similar success. His good vision and ability to hit holes would allow him to put up 1141 yards rushing on 262 attempts and 15 TD’s. He also had 16 catches for 79 yards. He had come to USC as the brother of Johnnie Morton, but he had made a name for himself. Having played at cornerback, free safety, tailback, wide receiver, kick returner and punt returner, his versatility was unquestionable.

    NFL teams were leery of Morton’s size. He was passed over in the draft until the 7th round when the New Orleans Saints picked him up. He posted 1,656 all-purpose yards in his rookie season as a return specialist and as a 3rd down back and played in all 16 games. Despite his play and earning a community relations award, he was sent to the New York Jets before the 2001 season.

    In New York, Chad was re-united with his USC head coach Paul Hackett, who had become the offensive co-ordinator for the Jets. He did see some special teams play… but no time at running back. In 2002, he wasted little time in establishing himself as the primary kick return man. In the first game of the regular season against Buffalo, he returned two kickoffs for touchdowns. The first one was for 96 yards and the second one was a 98 yarder in overtime for the win. He finished the season first in the AFC for return yards (2nd in NFL) and had an impressive 26.0-yard average. Despite his success on special teams, he carried the ball just 4 times.

    And then came this fateful offseason and the now infamous arbitration hearing. The New York Jets got cute on their offer to Morton and he landed in the Redskins lap. Morton will assume both the kick return duties and the punt return duties in Washington, a role that he enjoys. But will he see any more duties? All of his life he has been ‘making up for his size’ with his blazing speed, and now he finds himself in the Fun ‘N Gun offense. Redskin coach Hue Jackson was the offensive co-ordinator at USC when Chad was defying the odds there. Steve Spurrier and Jackson will be looking for ways to get him the ball and utilize his ability to break the big play. Maybe finally Chad Morton will get to live his dream in the NFL — after all, Chad just wants to be a running back.

    Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Mark Solway

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    A Driven Man: Regan Upshaw

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    If you’re only familiar with his reputation, you might look at Regan Upshaw as a modern-day football stereotype. The gold teeth. The three pitbulls. Fines for spitting. Penalties for late hits.

    “Thug,” you might think, and dismiss him out of hand.

    But you’d be wrong if you did. It isn’t–and he isn’t–that simple.

    Let him explain it: “I play aggressive,” Upshaw said. “When I go out there on the field, I’m trying to knock the guy out in front of me. Either he’s going to knock me out, or I’m going to knock him out. That’s how I play. And sometimes people take that aggressiveness and think it’s something it’s not.”

    What it is, is drive.

    Upshaw’s exhibited it his whole life. He was active his entire childhood: “I found out early we had to keep this boy busy all the time,” said his mother, “and we did, at sports, at music [violin, cello, trombone, tuba], at everything, including church in which he practically grew up, me being the daughter of an Albany, Ga., preacher.”

    Upshaw’s mother, Rosalyn Morgan-Upshaw, is a middle/high school principal in Hercules, CA, a classical musician and choir director who holds two master’s degrees. His father, Dr. Charles Upshaw, is chief of staff to the executive vice chancellor and provost at the University of California at Berkeley.

    They wanted to channel his unbelievable energy–and it was sports that really got young Regan excited. “When he was three years old,” said Morgan-Upshaw, “I said if everything he needed to know was put on a ball, he’d be a genius. When we found the right ball, we were in business.”

    But he was just as driven to succeed academically. In high school, Upshaw was serious enough about his academics that he decided to skip sports in ninth grade in order to concentrate on his studies. He ended up with a listing in “Who’s Who in American High School Students.”

    In tenth grade, he began his football career, and the high motor that marked everything he did would carry the defensive end from high school All-American (75 tackles his senior year) to highly-touted recruit to the starting lineup by his third game as a freshman at Cal to All-Pac 10 honors that same year. And as a freshman he made All-Academic Pac-10, was named Most Valuable Freshman, and won an award for spending more time than anyone at the study table. He concluded his three-year college career with 4.6 speed and 28 sacks.

    Why does he do it? He’s not concerned about what others think, that’s for sure. “It’s not about respect,” he said. Simply, “it’s about winning.”

    It is his drive that sets Upshaw apart–and it’s something that coaches and others who have known him from boyhood to veteran NFL player marvel at. He was an obsessive weight trainer in college, lifting 340 pounds before his freshman year and improving that to 400 as a sophomore and 425 as a junior. “You can count the days I haven’t been in the weight room, count the number of times I didn’t run,” he said at the time. “You may have a God-given talent, but you’ve got to enhance that talent to the best of your capabilities.”

    “You have to be intense, high-motored, fast, strong, going full-speed all the time,” said the Bears’ DC Artie Gigantino. “And Upshaw is all of the above. He’s like Jerry Rice, who’s not only a great athlete but also prepares to be a great athlete.”

    Upshaw was drafted number 12 over all by the Buccaneers, defensive guru and new coach Tony Dungy’s first pick ever as a head coach. But his rookie season still proved tough for the kid with the high motor. He was thrown into the starting lineup when Chidi Ahanotu was injured, he started all sixteen games but finished the season with only four sacks and 25 tackles.

    He had that drive, but he was spinning his wheels, unsure how to handle NFL-caliber left tackles, getting mocked as he missed easy tackles when he tried for the kill shot. And he got into fights (as he had in high school) and made stupid penalties when his motor was red-lined. “When I’m all red and jumping around, I’m wild,” Upshaw said. “And when I’m wild, I could pop … jump off-sides, punch somebody in the pile.”

    In the post-season after his rookie year, he decided to get his head on straight and he reconnected with his faith. Out with the high life and in with his family life; he spent more time with his wife and daughter. In 1997 and 1998, he listened to Sapp and worked on his fundamentals, recording 14.5 sacks in the two years.

    But in 1999, Upshaw lost his starting job to Steve White during training camp. And then as the season progressed, Marcus Jones’ strong performances at both end spots put him ahead of Upshaw on the depth chart. Insisting that Upshaw’s play wasn’t to blame (that it was the superior play by the other linemen), the Bucs traded him to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a conditional pick. The Jags took over Upshaw’s contract and he coasted the rest of the season primarily as a special teamer.

    In March of 2000, a new chapter in the life of Regan Upshaw began–he signed with the Raiders. DC Chuck Bresnihan was happy to have him on the team. Upshaw set an example by almost always being the last player out of the weight room before lunch. “He brings that competition level up,” Bresnahan said. “I’ve seen all three of those guys (DEs Bryant, Johnstone and Upshaw) get better because of the work habits he brings to the field.”

    But the Upshaw drive would start getting him into trouble, as well. He had never completely shed that undisciplined play that had marked him as a rookie, and playing for the Raiders only magnified his reputation. Slightly dirty play was a hallmark of the team.

    “The Raider mystique is the tough-guy mystique,” said Upshaw during their Super Bowl run in January 2002. “The Raiders organization is probably one of the last organizations that accepts aggressive football players. A lot of football teams now, they want the new NFL, per se. They want tame tigers, tame lions; good public-persona guys, on and off the field, but not necessarily hard-nosed football players.

    “We’re hard-nosed football players. We’ve got some good-persona guys, and they’re up front talking. But we’ve also got some trained killers in the locker room.”

    Upshaw was fined $7,500 in September 2000 for a late hit on San Diego QB Ryan Leaf. And in December, he spat in the face of Pittsburgh punter Josh Miller, for which he received an almost unheard-of fine of an entire game check, more than $29,000.

    In 2002, however, things changed again–Upshaw tore his ACL in a minicamp in June. He was expected to be out for the season–and yet, he wouldn’t let it stop him. “It was a kick in the stomach for about 10 minutes,” Upshaw said at the time. “Then I looked at my situation, and it was like, ‘OK, what can I do here? What are my options?’ My only option is to rehab. I’m on a rehab mission now.”

    And he went at his rehab with a gusto, and with such success that he was reactivated in late November, a full month earlier than anticipated. He was eased back into the lineup and became a starter again while the Raiders were making their run through the playoffs to the Super Bowl. [Curiously, soon after being activated he was fined $87,000 by the team for an undisclosed “discipline-related” incident–yet he was still in the lineup.]

    A month after the Raiders’ defeat in Super Bowl XXXVII, Upshaw was cut from the Raiders for salary-cap reasons. He was quickly snatched up by the Redskins during their focused assault on the free-agent market. Upshaw had been listed third in their scouting book, behind Hugh Douglas and Vonnie Holliday, and they moved quickly to sign him. They were looking for some bite on the defensive line.

    Though he’s the presumptive starter at right end, Upshaw is competing with legendary DE Bruce Smith, and coach Steve Spurrier wants some healthy competition for the position. Upshaw’s not concerned with whether he starts or not. “You know what, they brought me in to start,” he said. “But being in this game so long, if you throw me in there, I’ll play. I’m going to give 100 percent, whether it’s at right end, left end, [defensive tackle] or nose tackle. If I get 30 plays, I’m going to work hard and make plays. And if I get 50 plays, I’m going to work hard and make plays.”

    “He has shown that he cannot go half speed,” said defensive line coach Robert Nunn about Upshaw. “We try to go half-speed drills, and it just is not in him. He’s got to go full speed. That guy’s got a motor, a tremendous motor.”

    And perhaps as a fiery emotional leader of the defense, he can help fill the gap left by DT Daryl Gardener’s departure.

    “He brings a lot of energy to the group, a lot of energy to the classroom,” Nunn said. “We’re looking forward to that. One guy can make a lot of difference.”

    Hard work. Drive. That motor. They’ve been his calling card his entire athletic career.

    Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Eric Johnson

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    Renaissance Man – One of the Skins Solid Prose

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    “Every time you lose, a part of you dies. And you can never get it back.”

    These words are from someone with a desire to win. Words from someone who wants to have a huge impact in the Redskin secondary this upcoming season. These are the words of the Redskins new free safety, Matthew (Matt) Sean Bowen, acquired from the Green Bay Packers on March 11, 2003 to replace out-going safety Sam Shade.

    A journalism and mass communications major at Iowa, Matt wrote these words in a weekly column for The Daily Iowan, the student newspaper, back in September 1998. Matt wrote for a newspaper on the Iowa campus up until his senior year. “I just made fun of all my friends,” Bowen says with a laugh. “It was all about what we did at dinner time, who was the worst dancer, stuff like that.” Creative writing (essays and poetry) remain one of Matt’s hobbies to this very day, along with reading novels by Stephen Hunter and John Sanford.

    Born in Glen Ellyn, Ill., a suburb of about 30,000, Matt played as quarterback at Glenbard West High School where he was team captain and most valuable player, passing for 1,533 yards and 17 touchdowns, and gaining 1,329 yards with 17 scores on the ground in his final season. An extremely versatile football player, Matt was recruited to Iowa as a quarterback but eventually became a strong safety for the team just before spring practice in 1997. He played all 12 games that year, mostly as a 5th defensive back in passing situations.

    In his junior year, he led Iowa with 92 tackles (four tackles behind the line of scrimmage); intercepted two passes, broke up two others, and forced a fumble while gaining a reputation as one of the most ferocious hitter on the team. In his senior year, he led the team with 92 tackles (57 solo) and intercepted 2 passes, while starting every game at strong safety and becoming one of the fastest players in the Iowa program.

    Then, Matt traded in his prose for the pros.

    In 2000, Matt was drafted in the 6th round by the St. Louis Rams (probably dropping down that far not because of lack of talent but rather because Iowa, to be candid, wasn’t a very good football team). When he was drafted, Matt was known considered to be an extremely gifted athlete with impressive size, raw power and blazing speed. An aggressive hitter, who throws his body around willingly, Matt was known to find the ball and react quickly in run support.

    In his rookie season with the Rams, Matt played all 16 games and started a strong safety for two games that year, becoming an outstanding player on special teams (he led the team with 21 special teams’ tackles). Because of his strong play, Matt won the Carroll Rosenbloom Memorial Award as the team’s rookie of the year that year.

    Unfortunately for Matt, he would not enjoy as much success in his second year. In his first game against the Eagles, Matt broke his right foot and was eventually placed on injured reserve. He was later waived off of injured reserve on November 16th.

    Enter the Green Bay Packers.

    Matt joined the Packers in Week 12 (on November 30, 2001) and, although he was inactive for that first game, he played the last five games of that season and two playoff games…proving to be one of the Packers more effective special teams performers. Known as having “one of the best work habits of anybody” at Green Bay, according to assistant head coach, Bob Slowik, Matt was also considered to be quite a relentless player on the field.

    Entering the 2002 season, Matt’s stock in Green Bay rose dramatically, especially considering that their secondary was decimated by injuries early on. One of Matt’s strong supporters in Green Bay, Slowik continued, “[Matt’s] got a great attitude. He’s a hustler. He’s strong, tough and fast…. we’re not talking about some guy with mediocre speed or something like that.”

    Fortunately for Redskin fans, Washington officials also took note of Matt’s skills and on March 4th, 2003, signed Bowen to a 4-year offer sheet worth $6 million including a $1.6 million signing bonus. One week later, on March 11, 2003, with Green Bay electing not to match the Redskin’s offer sheet, Bowen officially became a Redskin. Bowen is regarded as a considerable upgrade at free safety and, having played 38 games with 8 starts, 63 tackles, one interception, one forced fumble, and nine passes defended, Matt will go into training camp as the starter at that position.

    When his NFL career is over, Matt notes that “one of my dreams is to be an author.” Hopefully, for the Washington Redskins faithful, we won’t be seeing any novels by Bowen on the bookstore shelves for quite some time.

    Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Fran Farren

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    Rob Johnson

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    In the off-season, the Redskins have made a lot of moves to provide Steve Spurrier with the weapons he needs to make the Fun ‘N Gun work in the NFL. What the Fun ‘N Gun really needs, is a quality starting QB.

    The’ Skins think they have that man in second year QB Pat Ramsey. But it’s a lot to ask a second year QB to shoulder the load in a pass-focused offense in which most of the pressure (no matter what the coaches say about this being a team effort) lands squarely on the QB.

    So having a quality second string QB was one of this off-seasons top priorities.

    Step forward Rob Johnson.

    Signed as a free agent after spending last year backing up Brad Johnson at Tampa – and picking up a Super Bowl ring in the process – Johnson is the Redskins security blanket in case Ramsey falters or gets hurt.

    Rob Johnson hales from Newport Beach (CA) and played High School football at El Toro (CA) where he was coached by his father Bob Johnson. Rob played WR (NFL QB Steve Stenstrom was his QB) as a junior and QB as a senior when he won Back of the Year and All Orange County honours. He also won the Orange County Overall Athlete of the Year and Football Athlete of the Year Awards.

    Steve Mariucci, head coach at USC, recruited him out of high school at the time. Johnson became the first true freshman to start for USC since WWII when he opened up against Arizona in 1991 and he would go on to set school records for completions (676), yards (8,472), completion percentage (64.6%) and touchdowns (58) breaking all of Rodney Peete’s old records.

    Like many modern day student athletes Rob Johnson excelled at other sports, namely baseball (he was actually drafted in the 16th round by the Twins).

    In 1995, Jacksonville drafted him with the first pick of the fourth round. He was the seventh QB taken that year, behind names like Steve McNair, Kerry Collins and Kordell Stewart.

    He spent three seasons in Jacksonville, but rode the bench behind Mark Brunell who had already solidified his hold on the Jags starting QB spot. Johnson was expendable, but he showed enough in his limited playing time to convince the Buffalo Bills that he was the answer to replacing Jim Kelly. The Bills sent first and fourth round picks in exchange for Johnson in 1998. A price that in hindsight looks steep.

    Johnson started six games his first year with Buffalo splitting time with Doug Flutie – a recurring theme for the next few years. Injuries played a part in an in an out season in which he flashed promise with the Bills making the Wild Card stage of the playoffs.

    During the next three seasons Johnson started over 20 games (a career high 11 in 2000) mainly splitting with Flutie. In his playing time Johnson displayed good arm strength and mobility and poise under fire behind a mediocre offensive line. He also displayed an inability to stay healthy with a worrying tendency to pick up concussions.

    At the end of the 2001 season (in which he missed the last 7 games with a broken collarbone), the Bills acquired Drew Bledsoe in a trade with New England making Johnson again… expendable.

    He signed as a free agent with Tampa Bay to back up Brad Johnson. Rob would see some injury generated playing time, and some mop action, but he was never impressive enough to threaten Brad’s starting position. Rob gained the invaluable experience of going to and winning a Super Bowl, but didn’t have much to do with it. And so when the season was over he was again deemed… expendable.

    Enter… the Washington Redskins.

    Johnson is an intriguing choice for backup QB for the ‘Skins. He has good size (6’4” 215), good arm strength, very good accuracy and excellent mobility – he will be the most mobile QB the Skins have fielded for quite some time, perhaps since Joe Thiesmann.

    The knock on him so far in his career has been his inability to stay healthy for any period. His propensity to pick up injuries is in part explained by his fairly slow release when throwing. When he decides to let the ball go, he takes a long wind up – which gives defenders a chance to close on him in the pocket. He has a tendency to take too many sacks. His ability and willingness to run with the ball also leave him open to taking shots from defenders.

    Last season in Tampa when he did play he looked rusty and lacking in confidence and presence in the pocket. Too often he was indecisive, and took sacks when he had receivers open that he just did not see.

    If Steve Spurrier can rebuild his confidence and work on his mechanics, Johnson could potentially turn into one of the better back up QBs in the league. He has shown that he has what it takes to be a successful NFL QB.

    If the Rob Johnson who played under centre in Tampa shows up though, rest assured that he will find himself in that position that he has become so accustomed to… expendable.

    Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Martin Collinson

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    ‘Trouble’ Runs Deep

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    Before he could walk, Laveranues Coles was dubbed “Trouble.” Most people would associate the nickname with old headlines from his days at Florida State University. While Coles certainly found trouble, his nickname was given to him by his mother’s doctor. Laveranues Coles was born after an extended labor – four days of labor. An off-hand comment by the attending physician regarding the length of the delivery stuck with Coles. ‘This one’s going to be trouble’ – could have been forgotten. Instead, Laveranues was affectionately nicknamed “Trouble” by his mom.

    “Trouble” was a natural athlete. Throughout his youth, he was known for his blazing speed. As a high school running back, Coles was one of the top prospects in the nation. He was recruited to Florida State University in 1996. Shortly thereafter, he was moved to his new position – wide receiver. Coles sent a buzz through the football world with his speed. A few years earlier, Deion Sanders had been clocked at 4.21 in the forty-yard-dash. On his first run, Coles posted an unheard of – 4.16. Surely there must have been a mistake, so Coles was asked to run again. He posted times of 4.17 and 4.18 to claim the title as ‘Fastest Seminole’.

    But trouble was soon to follow “Trouble.” In 1998 he was involved in attempting to stop a fight. The fight was between Coles’ step-mother and Coles’ mother. As the step-mother removed her shoe and raised it to strike the mother, Coles stepped in. With emotions running high, the police were called. Nobody was seriously injured, no person was treated at the scene and nobody was hospitalized. In most cases, this might have gone unnoticed. But Coles was a member of the top-ranked FSU Football Team. His lawyer arranged a plea-bargain in which Coles was sentenced to 150 hours of community service. Further, Coles was placed on probation with the team.

    In 1999, Coles’ roommate at the time was a Heisman Trophy-hopeful named Peter Warrick. The two planned a trip to Dillard’s Department Store. There they were allowed to purchase $400 worth of merchandise for about twenty-bucks. A hat, three shirts and a pair of jeans later, the pair were charged with felony counts of shoplifting. Once again, “Trouble” was in the national spotlight. Coles was kicked off the team, while Warrick was allowed to return. And with that, a promising First-Round NFL Draft Prospect became a potential “character problem” for any prospective NFL teams.

    Finally, in the Third Round of the 2000 NFL Draft, Laveranues “Trouble” Coles was selected by the New York Jets. He struggled as a rookie, and the Jets struggled along with him. Head coach Al Groh would soon be replaced with a new coach… Herman Edwards. Edwards had seen Coles play in college, he had watched Coles on tape and liked what he had seen. Keyshawn Johnson, the former go-to, #1 WR was on his way out of New York. Edwards called Coles into his office – and the rest is history.

    Edwards inspired Coles as a person, and as a player. Coles excelled in his new role as the Jets #1 guy. In 2003, Coles racked up 89 catches for 1,264 yards with 5 TD’s – more than Wayne Chrebet and Santana Moss combined. The Jets management felt Coles was expendable, and refused to match the Redskins’ seven-year $35,000,000 offer for Coles. The Redskins surrendered their first-round pick in exchange for Coles.

    At the age of 24, Laveranues Coles in in the prime of his career. Older, wiser and more experienced, Coles is well equipped to handle the challenges ahead – both on, and off the field. The old saying: Never judge a book by it’s cover. In this case should be: Never judge a man by his nickname. Like every young person, Coles made some mistakes. Unlike some in his profession, Coles has learned from those mistakes. He is known as a good teammate, a good person and a good friend to those that know him best. Laveranues Coles is exactly the kind of “Trouble” the Redskins need.

    Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Scott Moore

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