Wide receiver Irving Fryar didn't play against Pittsburgh Saturday night, but he was on the field at Three Rivers Stadium before the game running wind sprints and timing himself with his wristwatch. Monday morning, he showed up early at Redskin Park to run and lift weights before practice.
It's all part of Irving's plan for getting back to game shape in time for the Washington Redskins' Sept. 12 season opener against Dallas.
"As far as what kind of shape I'd normally be in at this time, I'm way behind," Fryar said yesterday. "But I don't think it's going to take me a long time to get back. I think a good five to six weeks of that, and I'll be in pretty good shape."
Fryar, 36, will get his first real progress report Friday, when the Redskins host Tampa Bay in their final preseason game at Redskins Stadium. Coach Norv Turner said he intends to use Fryar for about 15 or 20 plays, depending in part on how many three wide-receiver sets he uses.
"I'd like to see him catch a few balls," Turner said. "I think we should be able to get him in, and he'll be ready to go and do whatever we have to do."
Fryar, who retired from the NFL after last season, was working as a TV commentator when the Redskins coaxed him back to the game Aug. 19 for at least one more year.
Fryar said yesterday that while he looks forward to playing against Tampa Bay, his focus is on getting as fit as possible for Dallas.
"It's important that I get a chance to get in at some point before we start playing and get banged around a little bit and catch some balls even though I've done it for a long time," Fryar said. "The reason I'm out here running and working hard is, I was retired. So I was doing what retired people do: Eat doughnuts, go fishing, play with the kids and sleep until 1 o'clock. When the offseason rolls around, usually I'm out there working at 6 o'clock in the morning, four days a week, until about noon."
Fryar is the NFL's seventh all-time receiver, with 784 receptions in a 15-year career.
Fullback Larry Centers took a second day off practice yesterday, which he described as "a healing day," following Saturday's preseason game on turf. Trainer Bubba Tyer said that Centers had a sore right ankle after the work on the hard surface, but would practice today. Centers, 31, who is in his 10th season, had arthroscopic surgery to remove bone spurs on the ankle during the offseason. . . .
Tight end Stephen Alexander continues to progress from the knee sprain he suffered in the second preseason game against Buffalo, but Tyer said he didn't expect him to play on Friday. Defensive end Kenard Lang (sprained knee) also is improving, but is listed as questionable for Friday. . . .
Fullback Larry Bowie, who broke his ankle during practice last week, was at Redskin Park yesterday to continue his workouts. Bowie is expected to wear his cast until Sept. 29, Tyer said, then move to crutches and then a walker. Tyer said Bowie would also undergo a treatment designed to stimulate bone growth in the ankle. "He's going to meetings and lifting with his upper body," Tyer said. "We're not giving up on him." . . .
Joe Patton's agent, Alan Herman, said he received calls from 11 NFL teams yesterday inquiring about Patton's availability as a guard or tackle. "It's rare you get a starter released in his prime," Herman said.