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Washington opening act: a gag on Gibbs

By Wire services
Published March 27, 2004

ASHBURN, Va. - That's no way to welcome back a Hall of Fame coach. On the first scrimmage play of Joe Gibbs' first Redskins minicamp in a dozen years, assistant Gregg Williams pulled a surprise and blitzed all 11 players.

"Why would Gregg do that?" Gibbs said, laughing. "You're supposed to follow the script. The defense always cheats."

If it had been a full-contract drill, quarterback Mark Brunell would have been pummeled into the turf.

"I don't think I've ever seen that in my career, bring all 11 guys," Brunell said. "I don't know if I would have made it through that play."

"It was an attitude setter," Williams said. "That's what we hope to be like for the rest of 2004."

The night before, it was Gibbs who set the tone with an inspired speech at a team dinner. On Friday, as if on cue, an unusually glorious, sunny March day greeted the players for a high-spirited practice they hope begins a return to the glory days.

"Coach Gibbs, he commands respect instantly," Brunell said. "Guys know what he has done in his career. He's going to push you. He's going to make you work hard, and at the same time he's going to treat you like a man. Guys like that."

With one exception perhaps. The Redskins gave linebacker Jeremiah Trotter permission to seek a trade. Trotter, who was absent, was already a candidate to be cut June 1 to save money under the salary cap.

"We feel like we're going in a different direction," Gibbs said.

Bucs turn to defense

TAMPA - After spending quite a bit of time addressing needs on the offensive line and on special teams, the Bucs appear to be turning their attention to skill positions on defense.

Cowboys cornerback Mario Edwards, a former Seminole, visited One Buc Place Friday. The Bucs, set at starting cornerback with Ronde Barber and Brian Kelly, appear to be looking for experienced nickel-back help.

Edwards, Dallas' sixth-round pick in 2000, has been a starter since 2001. The 6-foot, 199-pounder had 45 tackles with one interception and eight passes defensed.

BRONCOS: Free-agent tackle Cornell Green, a four-year veteran who spent the last two seasons with the Buccaneers, signed. He played in 24 games, starting eight.

JAGUARS: Ephraim Salaam signed and will compete with tackles Maurice Williams and Mike Pearson for a starting spot.

RAMS: Defensive end Sean Moran signed, rejoining a team he played for in 2000.

- Times staff writer Roger Mills contributed to this report.

[Last modified March 27, 2004, 02:10:29]

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