CARLISLE, PA., AUG. 17 -- There's a rookie tackle in Redskins camp named Ed Simmons -- that's Big Ed to some, Bubbles to others -- and you might as well remember the name because it looks as if this kid's going to be around for a while.
In fact, if he were traded on the New York Stock Exchange it would be time to buy about 100 shares of Ed Simmons. Here's the scenario: tackle Wally Kleine, the redwood-tall second-round draft pick from Notre Dame, currently has a bum knee and appears bound for injured reserve this season. Simmons is listed as backup to right tackle Mark May, but one likely possibility has May moving back to his old spot at right guard where he would replace veteran R.C. Thielemann and Big Ed Simmons then would move in as the starter at right tackle.
This is only a whispered scenario, of course, but it could become a reality somewhere down the 1987 road. The Redskins like Simmons -- and especially his 6-foot-4, 300-pound frame -- that much.
"Ed's been the surprise of training camp," said Joe Bugel, assistant head coach/offense. "I call Ed our Camera Hog. That's because he always making plays in front of the camera.
"He's got great feet, too. I call him Dancing Bear. You know, he can dance on a light bulb."
All-pro left tackle Joe Jacoby opined, "If Ed is dancing on a light bulb, it must be a pretty big light bulb."
Simmons, 23, said today, "I think I'm going to make the team. It's not a matter of being confident; it's just a realistic look. I played a half against the Steelers and didn't make a fool of myself. I just see myself somewhere on this team."
There have been other rookie linemen who have received gallons of praise from Redskins coaches, then faded. (In 1984, tackle Nate Newton was highly-touted -- until he ate himself off the roster. French fries, Newton claimed, caused his undoing). That likely won't happen with Simmons, who said, "If I achieve all of my goals and accomplish all that I hope to this year, I can see somewhere down the line -- maybe two or three years -- going to the Pro Bowl. Hopefully, this year, I could be on the all-rookie team."
This is a summer of reconstruction, if not outright renaissance of the Redskins' offensive line. It was only five seasons ago that the Redskins offensive linemen power-blocked fullback John Riggins to a Super Bowl victory. Three of the linemen (Russ Grimm, Jacoby and Jeff Bostic) were named to the Pro Bowl.
But, as Bugel said today, "The last couple of years we fell into a comfort zone and lost our luster. We have to get it back."
The number of quarterback sacks allowed decreased last season, but the run production fell off, too. Not only that, Bugel said, but "the Giants destroyed us three times." So Bugel decided to turn back to the future with his Hogs. In the month before training camp, Bugel said he held voluntary workouts for veteran linemen at Redskin Park (as often as thrice-weekly) to work on techniques and fundamentals.
Once in Carlisle, Bugel told Grimm, a four-time all-pro at left guard, that he would be moved to center, to duel former all-pro Bostic. Bugel told May to be prepared to play both guard and tackle on the right side. Young Raleigh McKenzie ascended to the starting spot at left guard.
Bugel also showed film clips to his players of the Hogs' halcyon days of 1982-83 "when we blew people off the ball running the 'Guts' plays," Grimm said.
"Maybe a little bit of complacency set in on us in 1984 and '85," Grimm said.
None of this was lost on Simmons. "I think everybody knows the history of the Hogs," he said. Simmons was drafted in the sixth round from Eastern Washington, hardly a power.
But Bugel said he spotted something special in Simmons during the scouting combine session in Indianapolis in February.
"I always pick out the four or five guys with the biggest butts and the thick trunks," Bugel explained. And that is, in part, how the Redskins became enamored with Simmons. That also is how Simmons took on the name of Bubbles, courtesy of veteran tackle Mark May, who today chirped, "I call him that because he has a bubble butt."
Bugel tried to emotionally prepare Simmons to play the second half against the Steelers last Friday night. Coming out of the locker room and heading for the tunnel to the RFK Stadium field, Bugel said he told the rookie with just the right motivational pitch, "Eddie, you've been in big games before, right?"
According to Bugel, Simmons' nervous response was, "No, I've never been in a big game before." Bugel then said, "Sure you have. Cripes, you played Nevada-Las Vegas, right? That was a big game, right?" And Simmons reportedly said, "No, no, I've never been in a big game before."
Today, Bugel praised Simmons for his effort against the Steelers and recalled the halftime scene as "hilarious." Simmons, meanwhile, said the biggest game in his life occured two years ago at Eastern Washington.
"That's when we played at Idaho," he said. "Probably about 10,000 people were there."
Three players were released today: wide receiver Derrick Shepard (Oklahoma) and cornerbacks David Etherly (Portland State) and Michael Mitchell (Howard Payne). Three players were placed on injured reserve: tight end Albert Reese (Southern Methodist) and linebackers John Mickens (Elon) and Kenneth Robinson (South Carolina).