LATROBE, PA., JULY 25 -- Jimmie Johnson came to this training camp wanting to show the Washington Redskins he could block well enough to be their full-time tight end. What he didn't need to do is show them he has spectacular pass-catching ability, and at 6 feet 2, 246 pounds, is a very inviting target.
Run blocking was his primary goal in tonight's first scrimmage of the season, but play got ragged, the Redskins went to the air and Johnson had a spectacular night, catching two touchdown passes in a 12-12 tie with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Johnson caught a 38-yarder from Stan Humphries on Washington's first drive, then snagged an eight-yarder from rookie Cary Conklin late in the scrimmage.
He was the highlight as the Redskins held their own against a Steelers team that had been in camp a week longer and played veterans the first couple of possessions.
"I hope I showed the coaches about my blocking in the nine-on-nine drills this morning," Johnson said. "That's what they want to see from me, but tonight we didn't run that much when I was in there. . . . You've got to make the most of what chances you get."
That's especially true at tight end, where the Redskins have Don Warren, Ron Middleton, Terry Orr, Ken Whisenhunt, John Brandes and Johnson.
Otherwise, the Redskins saw mostly what they expected in a scrimmage that came after only practices.
"We got good work in and no one hurt," Coach Joe Gibbs said. "That's what's important. We'll be able to learn a lot off the films. There were some good things and some bad."
Conklin showed some of both when he replaced Jeff Rutledge in the middle of a possesion and completed three of four, including the eight-yard touchdown to Johnson. But he had a tough time after that, missing on nine straight passes (including an interception). He finished three for 13 for 19 yards; Rutledge was seven for 10 for 71 yards.
A Shaky Start
If this is the beginning of Kelvin Bryant's comeback, it got off to a bad start when he was held out of today's work because of a sore hamstring.
Bryant told the Redskins his leg became sore during Tuesday's practice and that it was stiff this morning. So instead of risking further injury, Bryant didn't take part in today's practice or scrimmage. Like other veterans, he was excused until Sunday's reporting day for all veterans.
The injury is important only in that the Redskins already are skeptical about Bryant's durability, especially since he missed all of last season and has not gotten through a full season since coming to the Redskins in 1986. . . .
General Manager Charley Casserly spoke briefly with six unsigned veterans or their agents. The unsigned players: Gerald Riggs, Darryl Grant, Markus Koch, Todd Bowles, Ravin Caldwell and Monte Coleman. Grant and Riggs remain the most likely holdouts.