With one extra stride and a lunge, Jean Fugett pulled in the long spiral and coasted into the end zone ahead of the perplexed rookie defensive back.
"Make sure to write how good I'm looking in practice," said Fugett, smiling, before loping back to the huddle.
Fugett, the Redskins' No. 1 tight end, hopes to duplicate that trip into the end zone often this season. He is on the option year of his contract and to have any kind of bargaining power in the future, he admittedly "must produce a better season than I have had the past two years."
They were not awful years by any means. But two knee operations have prevented him from operating at full strength during either season.
There is pressure on him to play better this time around, to remain injury-free and to return to his Pro Bowl form. And there is pressure on him because the Redskins are convinced he does not work hard enough to fully exploit his potential. The result is an uncomfortable situation that Fugett says stems from misunderstandings.
"For one thing, I am the player representative," he said. "That puts you in a tight spot. You had a new management coming in here last year and a lot of the old (player-management) questions came up again and had to be discussed.
"I feel as player rep I have to ask questions for the other guys.It isn't easy and I'm sure they (management) resent it at times. I've even considered quitting (as a player) once in a while."
Fugett also says he is in that no-man's land on the team, a player young in years but "old, experience-wise. When you've been around and been a winner, you do things certain ways. You always put your pants on the same way and it's hard to change.
"You resist change but then you have to remind yourself that you aren't paid to resist, you are paid to follow orders. You shouldn't doubt things. The hardest thing to remember sometimes is that this is a team sport."
And there is the matter of how he responded after each knee operation. The first, in March 1978, came too late as far as the Redskins were concerned. When he hurt the same knee again that August, that reinforced the belief.
Following the second surgery in January, Fugett allowed himself to balloon to around 260 pounds before tapering down. He also bought a knee rehabilitation machine instead of using one at Redskin Park.
"They couldn't see my working out so maybe they thought I wasn't," Fugett said. "I knew they felt I should be doing more. I was encouraged to get going.
"But I weigh under 240 now. I'm on the right schedule. I should be around 230 in a week or so and that's where I want to play all season.
"I feel really good. My knee will never be the same and that is a shame, considering my age. But it's holding up and I think I can do this year what I did the last time I was in an option season."
That year, 1975, Fugett caught a career-high 38 passes for 488 yards and three touchdowns in Dallas. He dropped off to 25 receptions last season, missing two games, but his seven touchdown catches were a career high. During his three years with the Redskins, he has averaged a score every five receptions.
"Playing out my option will serve as incentive for me," he said, "even though things have changed from the last time. Now compensation is involved and it really isn't a player's market.
"But realistically, if I have a good season, with may ability and talent and my youth, I should be able to command a lot of money. It's to my benefit to play well and I should. I don't think injuries are going to stand in my way this time."
At present, the two sides aren't negotiating. The Redskins made an offer, Fugett countered, both were rejected.
"If they come back with another offer, fine, we will consider it," he said. "But otherwise, we aren't going to talk about it. I'll take my 10 percent raise and forget about the whole thing while I am out on the field.
"I'm sure in my dorm room or when I open up a bill, it will come to mind, but you can't let that interfere with your concentration.
"I know that they'd like me to do some things differently. I don't particularly like to lift weights, but I tell you this, I have lifted more weights this offseason than I ever have in my life.
"I think I know how to play myself into shape," he said, smiling as he fingered a roll of fat around his middle. "This will be gone by the time the season starts."
Fugett hopes the 1979 season will be a lot more enjoyable than the past two. "It got to a point where playing wasn't any fun any more," he said. "When you hurt all the time and you know that people you can beat easily are suddenly staying with you, it's discouraging.
"That's when I can tell if I'm right or not. When I can't block the guy I am supposed to or when I can't outrun the guy covering me, I know I've reached the wrong point."
The Redskins also are watching. Coach Jack Pardee says he is encouraged by what he has seen.
"He has the experience and quality you need at the position," Pardee said. "He seems to be working hard. We just need more consistency from that position.
"Last year, the injuries really bothered him. He couldn't practice and, if he did, he couldn't play. It wasn't a good situation.
"This year, wed like to see him get out there and do everything that everyone else does and just have a Pro Bowl year like he is capable of doing."
General Manager Bobby Beathard has been pleased "that Jean has lost a lot of weight. He came out to the park a lot at the end and has been looking good.
"Sure, we got on him. He's a Pro Bowler and he has to work harder than he had been to stay at that level. As long as he continues to push, he will be of great value to the team."
Said Fugett: "I was more concerned about the contract and my status before I came to camp. By negotiating then, I wanted to find out if they really wanted me here or if maybe they would give me a nice raise.
"Things are just in limbo right now. I'm taking a chance because if I get hurt and don't have a new contract, I lose. If I sign a new contract and get hurt permanently, I at least would get some future money.
"But I can't think about that. You make a choice and then you better have guts enough to live with it."
Pardee and his staff spent today's practice session going over the standard routine for future workouts. "Tomorrow, we'll be ready to practice," he said. "It's really too early to form an opinion about anyone. . ." Ronnie Cullens, a rookie cornerback from Colorado, is not hard to pick out. He has shaved his head completely bald. CAPTION: Picture, Don Warren, left, and Jean Fugett race for time in 40-yard sprint at Redskin camp. By Richard Darcey - The Washington Post.