ASHBURN, Va. (AP) -Four players in yellow jerseys stood in a line at the conclusion of a Washington Redskins training camp practice, preparing to run sprints designed especially for quarterbacks.
Suddenly, the four became six. Cornerbacks Carlos Rogers and Fred Smoot joined the line. Rogers is recovering from knee surgery, so it made sense that he wanted to get a little extra conditioning.
But Smoot? He's not a quarterback, and he hasn't been injured lately. What was he doing there?
``Smoot and I have talked and he needs extra,'' coach Jim Zorn said.
Zorn then dropped a hidden little secret. Smoot, the self-proclaimed ``Mouth of the South'' and trash-talker extraordinaire, has never passed the conditioning test given by the Redskins before the start of camp.
Really? Hey, Fred, how can that be?
``That test mentally has me,'' said Smoot, who has spent five of his seven NFL seasons with the Redskins. ``Never physically. Because I'm never going to pass out, never going to miss a rep, and I'm going to be full speed at practice. I think mentally that 300-yard shuttle has destroyed my brain. I can't pass it.''
That's right. The player who can't stop running his mouth can't run the shuttle. To pass, according to Smoot, he has to run 12 25-yard sprints in 53 seconds, then rest 60 seconds and do the whole thing again. The time allotted varies according to position - the big linemen can go a bit slower.
The only non-injured players not to pass the test before the start of camp were Smoot and rookie receivers Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas.
So Zorn and Smoot had a heart-to-heart sit-down. The message: It's time to take this thing seriously.
``He just hasn't done it. Can he? Yeah,'' Zorn said. ``But because of that I think the players look at that and say, 'Well, this test isn't that important.' For he and I to get together and say, 'Listen, this test is important, so I want you to work extra with the quarterbacks,' that's what he's doing. He's trying to get himself in great shape so he can handle well the rigors of the season.''
Zorn has a point. Smoot has played in all 16 regular season games only once since the Redskins drafted him in 2001. He has missed 14 of 112 games over his career, including seven games during the two seasons he spent with the Minnesota Vikings. Last year he returned to the Redskins and missed three games with a nagging hamstring injury that dogged him most of the season.
For Smoot, a player who loves to discover other players' weaknesses and shout them to the sky, the coach's words hit home.
``Like he said, I've got a special gift when it comes to talking, and people listen to me. That's something everybody doesn't have,'' Smoot said. ``And he said, 'Put the action behind it, and I think you'll be a complete player.' And that's what I'm trying to do.''
Smoot came back to Washington to be the No. 3 cornerback behind Rogers and Shawn Springs, but he started 11 games last year after Rogers went down with the knee injury. With Rogers on the mend, Smoot is again expected to be the nickel corner, a busy job in an increasingly pass-happy NFL.
Which means there will be plenty of volume on the field. Smoot is so loud that reporters watching practice can check off his name by the sound of his voice instead of looking for his jersey No. 27. The player who last year launched Fred Smoot's Smack Energy Bar says the art of trash-talking is constantly evolving.
``In the old days there was more direct talking,'' Smoot said. ``Now it's more, 'I'm talking to all of y'all.' People ask me, 'Who are you talking trash to?,' and half the time I don't even know. It's really like whoever responds. I talk sometimes just to even myself out, make me feel better.''
Any trash-talking tips for the youngsters out there?
``You'd better be able to back it up,'' Smoot said. ``Point blank. If you can't back it up, keep your mouth closed.''
Notes: The Redskins signed LB Alfred Fincher, a fourth-year player who was cut by the Detroit Lions on Saturday. Fincher has played in 24 career games with Detroit and New Orleans. ... RB Eric Shelton, who has been experiencing numbness in his hands and legs, was waived. ... DE Chris Wilson, who has been sidelined with a calf injury, returned to practice. ... Zorn said several veterans will not play in Sunday's Hall of Fame game against the Indianapolis Colts. RB Clinton Portis, LT Chris Samuels, LB London Fletcher, DE Jason Taylor and Rogers are among those likely to sit out.

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