When the Chicago Bears released him last spring after five seasons, left tackle Andy Heck was determined to prove he remained capable of starting in the NFL.
After six games with the Washington Redskins, who signed him in June, Heck is playing well enough--and feeling good enough--that he would like to play a few seasons more with the Redskins. "I'd like very much to be playing here for the next two or three years," said Heck, a graduate of W.T. Woodson High School in Fairfax. "That's what I'm working toward."
Heck, 32, had to lobby hard for a tryout with the Redskins. Only a few teams were interested after Chicago let him go--Seattle, New Orleans and Philadelphia. Charley Casserly, the Redskins' general manager at the time, initially told Heck he wasn't interested, then relented after three calls from his agent. Heck wrested the starting job from Joe Patton in training camp after the incumbent missed an assignment during a preseason game that allowed a clean sack of Brad Johnson.
With Heck, the Redskins' re-tooled offensive line has yielded eight sacks in six games and helped running back Stephen Davis score nine touchdowns. "He picks up protections," Johnson said of Heck. "He's very sound. I think he has been one of the best moves we've made here in the offseason. That's one of the hardest positions to play in football, and I think he's playing great."
But when the Redskins (4-2) host the Bears (3-4) Sunday, Heck insists he won't be out for vengeance. "They treated me fairly," Heck said. "Hey, [getting released] was humiliating. I didn't want to be cut from a team that I loved, but I couldn't argue with their decision."
Chicago Coach Dick Jauron, in his first season with the Bears, called Heck's release a business decision. "When you put together your offense, you're going to go with a quarterback and left tackle," Jauron said. "And there was a left tackle, I thought, available on the [free agent] market who'd be here seven or eight years."
That was fifth-year tackle Blake Brockermeyer, formerly of the Carolina Panthers. "They got a guy who is going to play for them a long time," Heck said.
Turner Backs Green
Cornerback Darrell Green had a tough game against the Dallas Cowboys Sunday, as wide receiver Raghib Ismail beat him on several plays, including a 13-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Troy Aikman that gave Dallas a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
Coach Norv Turner insists Green has not lost a step; he attributed Green's struggles to a lapse of technique and exacting performances by Aikman and Ismail.
Asked how a 17-year veteran with seven Pro Bowl appearances could struggle with technique, Turner said: "I don't want to simplify it. But how do you turn on the Sunday afternoon golf and see a guy that won a bunch of golf tournaments all of a sudden hook the ball on the 17th or 18th hole with a tournament on the line? Technique is something you work on constantly--whether it's your first, seventh, or 17th year." . . .
Cornerback Darryl Pounds didn't practice because of a lower back sprain and was evaluated by a specialist. He is listed as probable for Sunday. . . . Guard Tre Johnson (dislocated finger) and G Keith Sims (broken thumb) both practiced yesterday, having been fitted with special casts, and expect to play Sunday.