Skip Hicks began training camp as the favorite to start at tailback for the Washington Redskins this year. One game into the regular season, he is an afterthought.
Hicks was beaten out by Stephen Davis during camp and had only one carry for four yards in last Sunday's overtime loss to the Dallas Cowboys. But as the team wrapped up preparations yesterday for Sunday's game against the New York Giants, Hicks said he remains hopeful that he will have a significant role this season.
"I was a little disappointed," he said. "Obviously I wanted to have more carries. But there's not a heck of a lot I can do about it. All I can do is continue to work and prepare, and be ready when they call on me."
Hicks wasn't a starter for most of last season either, breaking into the starting lineup only after Terry Allen got hurt. Still, Hicks managed to set a team rookie record with eight rushing touchdowns.
He was the front-runner to inherit Allen's job after the veteran was released during the offseason. But Hicks didn't have a good training camp, and Davis's straightforward running style won him the job. Davis ran for a career-best 109 yards and two touchdowns against the Cowboys while Hicks waited and watched, although Davis had a costly first-half fumble deep in Dallas territory.
Said Hicks: "I'm confident my time will come. Someone gets into the flow of the game and is running well, and the last thing you want to do is take him out. Hopefully I'll get my opportunities. The coaches keep telling me to be ready. I just have to make sure I'm prepared so that if I do get my chance, there's no drop-off."
The Redskins will try to get rookie right tackle Jon Jansen as much blocking help as possible in his matchup with Giants defensive end Michael Strahan. But the Giants make that tough, Redskins Coach Norv Turner said.
"We have a mixture of ways to try to get help," Turner said. "But they understand that, too, and they put him in places where it's difficult to help."
The Redskins used a no-huddle offense in their final preseason game. Such a tactic might keep a hard-charging defense off balance, but it also has its drawbacks, Turner said.
"It's something we have ready every week," he said. "But when you use three wide receivers and you're spreading people out, you have a lot tougher time helping your offensive linemen."
The Redskins expect their offensive line to be tested. "The New York Giants have been aggressive in every game they've played for a long period of time," Turner said. "That's what they do. That's their style. I don't see the Giants changing their style for us. They haven't changed it for anyone else." . . .
The Redskins placed fullback Larry Bowie, offensive tackle Jamie Brown, defensive tackle Barron Tanner and cornerback Tito Paul on their inactive list for Sunday's game.