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NFL briefs

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 7, 2001


Chargers coach swoons over Vick

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- The Chargers are making it pretty clear that Michael Vick is their man.

"This guy is for real," San Diego coach Mike Riley said after nearly a week with the Virginia Tech quarterback, who is leaving school after just two seasons. "I don't have any more questions. I'd love to have the opportunity to coach him."

Because the Chargers have the No. 1 pick in the April 21 NFL draft, Riley can get his wish, although the final decision lies with general manager John Butler. Butler is being more coy than his coach, but he also indicated during NFL meetings last week in California that Vick seems a no-brainer.

Vick isn't so sure.

"That's part of the excitement and joy of all this," said Vick, who led Virginia Tech to 11-1 records the past two seasons. "On the 21st, knowing you've worked so hard, it's still a gamble where you're going to go."

At 6-1, Vick is slightly shorter than the optimum height pro scouts look for in a quarterback. But his quickness and agility have made him one of the most exciting college players the past two seasons. The success of young quarterbacks with similar styles, such as Donovan McNabb and Steve McNair, have made coaches more likely to take a player like him.

As a redshirt freshman, Vick led Division I-A in passing efficiency and finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting. In one of his best performances, Vick passed for 225 yards and ran for 97 more against Florida State in the 2000 Sugar Bowl.

Last season, the Hokies' hopes were hampered by Vick's severely sprained right ankle. But Vick finished his career with a solid performance in a 41-20 victory over Clemson in the Gator Bowl.

"He's been well-schooled," said Zeke Bratkowski, a retired NFL quarterbacks coach who has been working with Vick since February.

Bratkowski, who coached Randall Cunningham with the Eagles, said Vick possesses the same rough ability that when polished has unlimited potential.

"He's faster than Randall Cunningham, but Randall was stronger and taller," Bratkowski said.

Bratkowski agrees with most NFL personnel people, including Butler and Riley, that it will take some time for Vick to adjust to the pros after just two years of college experience. San Diego has signed 38-year-old Doug Flutie, who has a similar style, as its starter, which would give Vick time to learn.

Vick said he will be in Atlanta for a workout today, then will head to San Diego next week to visit the Chargers' facilities.

BRONCOS: Free-agent defensive end Keith Washington, who blocked two field-goal attempts in the Ravens' 24-10 win over Tennessee in the playoffs, signed. Terms were not disclosed. ... Steve Watson, a wide receiver with the Broncos from 1979-87, is a defensive assistant with the team. He replaces Terry Tumey, who accepted a position with the 49ers. Watson was in training camp last season as a coaching intern.

EAGLES: The Philadelphia Daily News reported that the Phillies' refusal to release a rainout makeup date in September is holding up the NFL schedule. The Eagles would be granted a Monday night game at Veterans Stadium on Sept. 24, but the baseball team is holding the date in case it needs to make up a rained out home game. The National League and NFL are continuing talks.

RAMS: Defensive lineman Ray Agnew's separation from St. Louis didn't last long. The club released Agnew in February as it began rebuilding a defense that was among the NFL's worst in 2000. But Friday, the Rams signed Agnew, 33, to a new contract. Terms were not disclosed.

REDSKINS: Free-agent wide receiver Kevin Lockett agreed to terms on a two-year, $2-million contract. Lockett, 26, caught 33 passes for 422 yards and two touchdowns last season with the Chiefs. He provides an insurance policy in the event Michael Westbrook doesn't recover from an anterior cruciate knee ligament he tore in September.

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