The death of San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Thomas Herrion reverberated yesterday at Redskins Park after a practice in sweltering heat. Although the cause of Herrion's death has not been determined, it resonated in particular with Washington's linemen.
Herrion, a 6-foot-3, 310-pound 23-year-old, collapsed in the locker room after a preseason game against the Denver Broncos on Saturday night at Invesco Field at Mile High. Temperatures were in the mid-60s with low humidity.
"He may have been in the best shape possible," said Phillip Daniels, a 6-5, 285-pound defensive lineman. "Who knows what happened? It's a sad story: A guy who goes out and plays hard during the game. . . ."
Left tackle Chris Samuels, who is 6-5 and weighs 310, said: "I condition the best I can during the offseason. But you just pray before you go out there. You never know what will happen.
"I hate hearing stories like that because it does make you wonder who's actually in shape. I feel like I'm in good shape. I guess when the man above calls for you, it's your time."
"That's a tragedy," said 6-foot-4, 301-pound center Casey Rabach. "Our prayers are naturally with his family. It's sad to see no matter what the circumstances."
Coach Joe Gibbs recalled St. Louis Cardinals tight end J.V. Cain, who died of a heart attack on a hot day in training camp in 1979. Gibbs was an offensive backfield coach with the Cardinals under Don Coryell from 1973 to 1977.
"He was a real thin, real great-in-shape guy," Gibbs said. "Our heart goes out when something like that happens. You usually just imagine one of our guys. It just devastates everybody. It's a huge loss to everybody."
The Redskins placed cornerback Artrell Hawkins on the reserve/injured list, essentially releasing him in advance of an injury settlement. Vice President Vinny Cerrato said that the two sides have five days to work out a settlement. Hawkins hadn't practiced since the first week of training camp because of a hamstring injury. Before the injury, Hawkins -- who was expected to provide depth and contribute on special teams -- seemed to have an edge in the competition for fourth cornerback.
After missing Friday's loss to Cincinnati because of swelling in his elbow, tailback Clinton Portis was back at practice yesterday. Portis, who has only one carry this preseason, is expected to get considerable playing time Friday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. . . . Punter Tom Tupa didn't practice because of his back strain, but doesn't consider it serious. "We're just making sure everything's good in time for the start of the season," Tupa said. . . . Safety Matt Bowen had a limited practice without pads after missing Saturday's game with a mild knee sprain. Offensive lineman Mark Wilson was back in practice after not practicing last week with a lower-back strain. . . . Cornerback Walt Harris (quadriceps) and wide receiver Taylor Jacobs (toe) are unlikely to play Friday. . . . Director of Sports Medicine Bubba Tyer said that linebacker LaVar Arrington had his most intense practice of preseason. . . . Nick Clemons missed practice with a back strain but is expected to return today.