As the Washington Redskins left their Frostburg State University training camp today, Coach Norv Turner said he realizes that his future with the team depends upon the club reaching the playoffs this season.
Meanwhile, Turner said that Skip Hicks will start at tailback ahead of Stephen Davis in Friday night's preseason home opener against the Buffalo Bills, and that fullback Larry Centers will make his first Redskins start.
Owner Daniel Snyder said on Tuesday that he would dismiss Turner if the Redskins fail to reach the postseason. Snyder did not rule out the possibility of making a coaching change during the season.
Snyder has given Turner the final say over player-related personnel decisions, and he said Tuesday he's comfortable working with Turner. But the Redskins have not reached the playoffs in Turner's five seasons, and Turner said today it was no surprise to him that his job security is riding on reaching the postseason.
"Redskins fans, players and coaches know what we need to get done," Turner said. "There's a sense of urgency here with everyone."
Turner said he hasn't given up on tackle Joe Patton, whose play was criticized Tuesday by Snyder. Patton missed a blocking assignment early in Friday's preseason-opening victory at New England, resulting in a sack of Brad Johnson. Turner replaced Patton as the starting left tackle with Andy Heck, but said today that Patton still could win the job.
"Mr. Snyder has his opinions, and he at times is going to express them," Turner said. "Joe has got to handle it, and compete the way he has this week. I'm not ruling out that Joe will be our starting left tackle. I don't think any of us should take any comment like that as personal."
Still, some Redskins officials say Patton could be cut by the end of training camp. Turner refused to address that issue today, saying: "It's too early to ask that question." Patton declined to comment.
Turner indicated that he plans to use his starters for at least a half against the Bills. Some starters will play into the third quarter, Turner said. He indicated that Johnson will play longer than the 1 1/2 quarters of work he got against the Patriots.
Davis was the starter at tailback in New England, rushing for 31 yards on five carries. Hicks relieved Davis midway through the second quarter and provided 71 yards on 12 carries.
"Stephen got a shot with the first group last week and handled it real well," Turner said. "Skip gets a shot this week, and that will help us evaluate. . . . I think we have two very capable runners. Someone is going to step up and have a great year."
Hicks said: "I really haven't paid too much attention to who starts and who doesn't. I've prepared as if I'm going to start each week. I'm sure they're going to keep alternating us for a while, and then make a decision. I'm just happy to get some repetitions, and get the rust off and get back into the groove of running the ball."
Larry Bowie started at fullback against the Patriots. But Centers, a free agent signee late in the offseason, has been one of the best players in camp.
Kenard Lang will start at left defensive end against the Bills, Turner said. Lang practiced with the starters today, a day after being demoted to the second team in favor of Anthony Cook. Rookie Champ Bailey will start at the cornerback spot opposite veteran Darrell Green, who's scheduled to play about a quarter before giving way to Darryl Pounds. Brett Conway and Cary Blanchard will split place-kicking duties.
The Redskins broke camp following this afternoon's practice. They're scheduled to practice Thursday at Redskin Park, where they'll conduct the remainder of their preseason workouts.
"It's been a productive camp," Turner said. "We had a couple days late where we backed off, but for the most part it's been high intensity and we got great work. We played well in our first game. Having Brad has really helped. We've had some new guys add some leadership and enthusiasm. . . . We got a lot done."