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Redskins Players and Coaches Remain Uncertain About How Much of a Role Sherman Lewis Will Have

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"Sometimes, you may wonder," quarterback Jason Campbell said. "But me knowing Coach Zorn personally, he's always pretty straightforward. It's not going to affect his work ethic or what he do. He definitely has a lot of responsibilities. But it doesn't have any effect on our coaching staff as far as, 'Oh, they're not getting it done.' It doesn't mean that at all."

Before the team began installing its game plan on Wednesday for this weekend's game at Carolina, players weren't certain what to expect from Lewis, but they said the team's problems couldn't all be solved by "another set of eyes," the popular buzz words that surrounded Lewis's arrival.

"It depends," running back Clinton Portis said. "You've got to see what his role turn out to be and how we pan out. If we pan out to do some spectacularly, it's great."

Said wide receiver Santana Moss: "I don't feel like it's going to change a whole lot, but you never know what he has in store for us. Until we get out there, start hearing some things, start hearing input, then I'll know more."

Lewis said he's been around football long enough to know that with pressure mounting around a second-year head coach, eyebrows would raise the second he set foot at Redskins Park. But Lewis said he told Zorn that he's not auditioning for the head coaching job.

"I'm just here to help, that's all I'm here for, to see what I can do," Lewis said. "I wasn't planning on coaching, so I'm not looking for anybody's job. I thought it'd be a nice challenge, thought it might be a good change for me, and I thought I might be able to help."

While adding a consultant just four weeks into the season might appear to undercut the coaching staff's authority and the management's confidence in that staff, players said they have faith in their coaches.

"Coach Zorn and all our coaches have done a good job; we just haven't done the things we need to and execute the way we're capable of as a team," Campbell said. "I mean, it's not the coaches."

Smith, whom Zorn brought from Tennessee to serve as Redskins' offensive coordinator, said he'll be open to Lewis's suggestions but that the team needs to concentrate on doing things better, not differently.

"We think it's about execution," he said. "We think we need to execute better. The players are saying the same thing. We'll just keep executing, keep running the same scheme, and hey, if he has a set of eyes and sees something we don't see -- 'You need to do more of this and less of that' -- we'll listen to it. We're open."

What Zorn and his staff don't question is Lewis's experience and his past success with the West Coast offense, which, broadly speaking, emphasizes controlling the ball through short passes rather than the running game. A former running backs coach at San Francisco under Bill Walsh, the architect of the system, Lewis found the most success running the offense at Green Bay, where the Packers reached the playoffs six times in his eight seasons there, winning the Super Bowl following the 1996 season.

"He has a wealth of experience," said former NFL coach Steve Mariucci, who worked with Lewis in Green Bay and Detroit. "He's been in that system longer than anybody on that staff. He will be able to give some input, to suggest, to evaluate, to help."

While no one was able to define Lewis's exact role or his new responsibilities on Wednesday, he's expected to watch games from the press box, and Zorn will continue calling the team's offensive plays. Beyond that, Lewis will study video, attend practice and contribute wherever he sees an opportunity.

"Maybe they say, 'Hey, take so-and-so out and let's work on some routes with him.' I don't know. Might be that," Lewis said. "Might be just look at some film, [give] some input there. We really haven't talked about what my role will be. Just come in and observe. That's all I've been told."

Lewis said when he arrived in town Tuesday evening, he immediately met with Cerrato and Redskins owner Daniel Snyder. He said they told him they wanted a "fresh set of eyes," someone familiar with the West Coast offense. They apparently liked the fact that Lewis has been out of coaching for 4 1/2 years because someone "who hasn't been around this particular offense that recently might have a different perspective on things, might see things that maybe if you're up close, you might miss," Lewis said.

"So far, that's all I know," he said.

Staff writer Barry Svrluga contributed to this report.


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