Middle linebacker Derek Smith, part of the Redskins' young corps of starting linebackers, got into a fistfight today with rookie right tackle Jon Jansen (6-6, 302) during practice, and the two had to be separated by teammates.
"He likes to hold on a lot," Smith said. "He did something to make me a little angry. Something just kind of clicked to give me a little wake-up."
Jansen downplayed the scuffle. "Those things happen in practice," Jansen said. "It's just the way things go sometimes."
Smith, Shawn Barber and outsider linebacker Greg Jones represent the Redskins' biggest offseason gamble, with all three moving into new starting roles. All are either 24 or 25 years old, making them among the NFL's youngest linebacking corps. Coach Norv Turner seems pleased with the early results.
"Derek Smith and Shawn Barber are really playing well," Turner said. "When you have a change like that, and you play young players, you're concerned about the leadership part of it. They're stepping up as leaders. They're vocal. They're fast. And they're playing competitive."
Johnson Rested and Ready
Quarterback Brad Johnson called Turner's decision to give him Wednesday off "the best thing we've done all camp." Johnson looked sharp and more mobile upon his return today.
"I'm moving around really well right now, and a lot better than I had the first two days last week," said Johnson, who underwent knee surgery May 5. "I'm feeling better, and feeling sharper with the things we're doing. We're adding more three-wide [receiver packages]. I'm still learning. It's a long learning process."
Turner's decision to rest cornerback Darrell Green today gave him the chance to look at Darryl Pounds and rookie Champ Bailey on the field at once. Pounds stripped a ball from receiver James Thrash, successfully defended wide receiver Michael Westbrook and snagged an interception. Turner said he planned to play much of the preseason with Pounds and Bailey at cornerback to evaluate them further.
Safety Matt Stevens also showed some impressive moves in the nickel package.
"I have great feelings about Matt," said Green, who served as an informal assistant to defensive backs coach Tom Hayes yesterday. "Matt has cornerback type of feet. The whole secondary had a good practice."
Open House in Landover
Redskins officials will invite fans to Jack Kent Cooke Stadium to watch the team's final preseason game, at Pittsburgh Aug. 28, on the stadium's giant video screens at no charge. The broadcast is part of the Redskins' second open house, designed to sell the roughly 1,000 club seats that remain. Gates open at 4 p.m. . . .
Defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson, who sprained his ankle earlier this week, will be re-evaluated Saturday and could miss a second week of practice, according to trainer Bubba Tyer.
Champ Champs at the Bit
Bailey said he's benefiting from the practice he's getting returning kickoffs and hopes to have a chance to do the same in games.
"Basically it's just a lot more intense," Bailey said of the return game in the NFL. "You've just got to run full speed. You can't really pick holes. You've just got to run."
Turner has said he wants Bailey to get comfortable at cornerback first. "I think we all know I need to take it one step at a time," Bailey said. "As long as I do a good job of what I'm doing, I'm fine. But I would love to do a lot more."