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Rookie QB impresses in Detroit

By DARRELL FRY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 9, 2002

Joey Harrington has looked impressive in his first workouts with the Lions. The former Oregon standout has thrown crisp passes, made solid decisions and shown poise for a rookie quarterback.

More than anything, Harrington has brought smiles with his attitude. He is in the unenviable position of being perceived as a savior for an ailing Lions franchise that rarely has had a quarterback prospect as decorated.

Instead of trying to deflect the expectations surrounding him, Harrington has embraced them.

"I've been in a situation where every pass, every (step of) footwork, everything you do is analyzed. I'm ready for it," he said. "Plus, that kind of makes it fun, puts more pressure on it. If you've got the eyes of an entire city watching your every move, that's what it's all about. Sitting there in the fourth quarter with 70,000 people staring at you, that's the fun part."

HIT THE ROAD, MIKE: It looks like Michael Westbrook's days in Washington are coming to an end.

Westbrook rejected the team's latest contract offer, leading many to believe he is headed elsewhere.

"I don't think they're seriously interested," Westbrook said. "I don't think they're going to pay me what it would take to sign me."

Westbrook, the fourth overall pick in the 1995 draft, had fewer than 40 catches a season in his seven seasons in Washington.

He has been talking to the Jaguars and the Bengals. The Jags need a replacement for Keenan McCardell, who was released Monday for salary-cap reasons, and the Bengals could use Westbrook if they lose Darnay Scott.

Westbrook is expected to visit the Jags this week, then the Bengals.

Meanwhile the Redskins have their eyes on another of Steve Spurrier's former Gators, Saints receiver Willie Jackson.

"He's a very good player, and he caught a lot of balls (81) last year," Spurrier said.

NOTHING SPECIAL ABOUT THIS: Word is, Giants coach Jim Fassel is considering assigning special-teams duty to every player in an effort to boost play.

For instance, veteran receiver Ike Hilliard and cornerback Jason Sehorn are being looked at as holders on field-goal attempts. Even quarterback Kerry Collins isn't exempt. Fassel has him penciled in on the kickoff scout team.

Of course, these players may not actually play on special teams during the season, but Fassel certainly has their attention.

BREATHING FIRE: Ravens coach Brian Billick wasn't happy about stars Ray Lewis and Peter Boulware skipping the team's recent minicamp. Apparently, their agent, Roosevelt Barnes, informed the team they would be absent, but Billick expected a call from the players.

"I am angry," he said. "I don't deserve to be treated this way."

SPEAKING OF BEING ABSENT: The Bengals haven't been getting 100 percent participation for their offseason workouts, which has upset some players.

"What's sad is seeing the guys who are already up here in the city and they don't come," linebacker Takeo Spikes said at a recent workout. "That's lazy there."

-- Information from other news organizations were used in this report.

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