Versatile catch for Skins

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Versatile catch for Skins

Postby 1niksder » Fri Aug 04, 2006 11:01 pm

Antwaan Randle El wastes no time making himself comfortable as one of eight free agents signed by the Redskins.

BY MELINDA WALDROP
August 4, 2006
ASHBURN -- As a heat wave pushed temperatures toward 100 degrees at Redskins Park, Antwaan Randle El stuck his head into the media workroom and let loose with a Ric Flair-esque "Whoooo! It's hot out there," startling several reporters. "Have y'a'll been out there?"

Randle El's irrepressibility was as attractive to Redskins coach Joe Gibbs as the multi-dimensional threat he brings to Washington's offense as a wide receiver and kick returner. He had 35 receptions for 558 yards and one touchdown last year during Pittsburgh's Super Bowl winning season, Oh, and he can run the ball and even throw it if necessary. His touchdown pass to Hines Ward was one of the highlights of the championship win.

"If anybody doesn't like Randle El, there's something wrong with you. He wins everybody over," said Gibbs, who said people, from policemen to businessmen, who had met Randle El told him he was going to enjoy coaching the versatile player. "He's got probably as much excitement about football as anybody I've been around ... He's a heck of a guy, and he fits in here and I'm glad we got him."

Randle El is enjoying himself - despite the heat.

"I'm fitting in great," said Randle El, who was one of eight free agents signed by the Redskins. "I'm making my home. That's what it's all about. Your job is everything to you. It's your life, and that's certainly the way I approach it."

Randle El isn't the only newcomer fitting in after the Redskins' free-agent shopping spree. Fellow wide receiver Brandon Lloyd was acquired to be a deep threat at wideout, while Washington's defense also shored up some crucial spots with key offseason grabs.

Defensive end Andre Carter is coming off two lackluster seasons in San Francisco, where a back injury and uncertainty about his size and schematic role conspired to dull the excitement he generated as the 49ers' first-round draft pick in 2001 out of Cal.

Carter is comparatively small for a lineman at 6-foot-4 and 265 pounds, and he lacks the pass-defending skills necessary to excel at linebacker. After making 251/2 sacks in his first three years in San Francisco, Carter had just 61/2 in his final two seasons there. But he downplays talk of finding redemption with the Redskins. "Anything I have to prove is only to myself," said Carter, whose father, Rubin Carter, was part of Denver's vaunted Orange Crush defense. " ... I've always known who I am. I've always played defensive line. ... Granted I did have little setbacks, but sometimes players in the NFL have that. But they tend to recoup and keep on moving forward."

Carter has shown every sign of doing that. He's often the first one on the field for morning workouts and seems to delight in attacking tackling dummies with ferocity.

"You'll always see him out here way before practice gets started," Redskins assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams said. "We're getting ready to walk through, and Andre will be out here 10 or 15 minutes before everybody else, getting lathered up for a walk-through."

Veteran safety Adam Archuleta also has shown laser-like intensity - knocking star wide receiver Santana Moss for a loop as he laid out for a pass over the middle early in training camp - as he adapts to his new team.

"A lot of guys have been together for a long time, so it's really up to me to fit in," said Archuleta, who recorded 93 tackles last year in St. Louis. "There's a great chemistry. I think there's a great camaraderie."

"Every team has a certain character," Carter said. "Everybody stands out. We have a bunch of comedians, a bunch of guys that are serious. But this is family."

Like Carter, Randle El understands what it's like to search for where you belong on the field. He's satisfied that he's found his answer: everywhere.

Too small at 5-10 and 192 pounds to be the dual-threat quarterback he was at Indiana in the NFL, Randle El instead has found his niche - or niches - as a slot receiver also capable of catching the deep ball adept at returning kicks, too. The former option QB also can handle the football, running it or passing it as needed - versatility that calls to mind the Ravens' Kordell "Slash" Stewart.

"I can always be Mr. Everything," said Randle El, but he objected to another suggested nickname. "I don't like Second Slash. I'm not Second Slash. I'm Antwaan Randle El. The. The only one."

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