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 ASHBURN, Va. (AP) -At first glance, Joe Bugel appears stuck in a time warp as he works the offensive linemen through their offseason practice drills. The gruff voice and chiseled face are the same, even as the Washington Redskins have changed around him.
Wasn't Bugel the longtime lieutenant of Joe Gibbs? Didn't Gibbs rouse his beloved ``Buges'' out of retirement with a middle-of-the-night phone call four years ago? Now that Gibbs has left the NFL again, shouldn't Bugel go back to enjoying the good life of leisurely golf games in Arizona?
It was one of the surprises of the offseason when the 68-year-old architect of the ``Hogs'' under Gibbs I and the ``Dirtbags'' of Gibbs II decided to remain on the coaching staff under new coach Jim Zorn.
``Joe called me and said, 'Buges, I really believe you have some more left in you. You've always been a great Redskin. Don't let my retirement affect your decision in any way,''' Bugel said. ``When I found out who they hired and talked to the owner, it was an easy decision.
``I love this place, I really do. My kids enjoy me coaching. I enjoy coaching. I've got a good group to coach, so there's no sense sitting on the back porch and watching the birds.''
Besides, as Bugel learned during his two-year retirement, watching the birds isn't all it's cracked up to be.
``I tried to retire,'' Bugel said. ``I didn't really enjoy it that much. I started hitting that sissy fade in golf and I was breaking clubs and beating myself and going home angry.''
So Bugel was back on the football field in the June heat this week, wearing his burgundy Redskins shorts and white baseball cap. He's tickled that his projected starting five - veterans Jon Jansen, Randy Thomas, Casey Rabach, Pete Kendall and Chris Samuels - are healthy after a lineup-juggling, injury-plagued 2007. All express nothing but admiration for their tell-it-like-it-is coach and happy to have some continuity in their corner of the field.
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Few people on the staff have a better pulse on the players than Bugel, who endured with Gibbs the two losing seasons and two playoff seasons of the last four years. Yet Bugel has been careful not to offer advice to Zorn about the team as a whole, sticking instead to the linemen he coaches.
``He takes no mess off of anybody,'' Zorn said. ``And for a guy to work around big, 300-pound-plus guys, he is not intimidated at all. He's created a great situation of veterans' respect and of teaching those young guys.''
Gibbs' departure allows the world to be let in on a little secret: Bugel really isn't a night owl. All those infamous late-night meetings when Gibbs would meet with the coaching staff until the garbage truck arrived at Redskins Park in the wee hours of the morning? That's not Bugel's style.
``I like early bird,'' Bugel said. ``I get here about 5:30, quarter to 6 every morning. I have an easy time getting up. Joe didn't like to start until 9 or 10 o' clock.''
That meshes well with Zorn, who gets to work early and plans to goes home at a decent hour.
``This is an early bunch,'' Bugel said, ``and I kind of like it.''
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