Preseason matters to the Washington Redskins, who want to set the right tone and win games Print
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Thursday, 09 August 2007 08:06
NFL Headline News

 ASHBURN, Va. (AP) -Washington Redskins defensive end Renaldo Wynn talked up Saturday's exhibition game against the Tennessee Titans as if it had playoff implications, using regular season cliches such as ``sense of urgency.''
``These preseason games,'' Wynn said, ``are going to tell the tale of the tape.''
That might be standard talk for a rookie trying to make the roster, but Wynn is an 11-year veteran. He readily admits he hasn't felt this strongly about a preseason game in years. The Redskins are still smarting from last year's sobering lesson on the consequences of a blase approach - 0-4 in the preseason and 0-2 in the opening two weeks.
Not just 0-4, but a terrible 0-4 - outscored 104-27. It was the franchise's fewest points in preseason since at least 1961, the earliest year for which such records are available.
``We were really full of ourselves,'' assistant coach Joe Bugel said. ``Our training camp was not as physical as it had been in the past. We tried to protect everybody, and it caught up to us. When you do not practice hard or physical, it shows up.''
In the preseason, what really matters is how the starters play. Last year, Washington's first-team offense did not score and never even got the ball past an opponent's 20-yard line.
At the time, coach Joe Gibbs' two top assistants, Al Saunders (offense) and Gregg Williams (defense) played down the significance of the results, confident their players and schemes would work once the games started for real.
The outcome was almost too predictable. The Redskins sputtered out of the gate and finished 5-11.
Now the games are about to start.
``We want to come out and make a statement,'' fullback Mike Sellers said, ``basically saying we're going to be a competitor.''
Gibbs never likes to tell his starters in advance how long they will play or how much of the play book will be used, but the players think they know what to expect when they get to Nashville.
``We're not taking anything for granted,'' Wynn said. ``I think this year we're looking more at getting the starters out there, playing a little bit more, fine-tuning those guys, getting everybody in shape so that by the time we reach Miami (the regular season opener) we're running on all cylinders.''
The Redskins have placed a keen emphasis on preseason results twice in recent years. When Dan Snyder bought the team in 1999, he made it known he expected results immediately or else - prompting coach Norv Turner to play his starters longer. The team went 3-1 in the exhibitions, then 10-6 in the regular season and made the playoffs.
In 2002, rookie NFL coach Steve Spurrier overestimated the importance of winning in preseason and piled on the points, going 4-1 with scores such as 38-7 and 40-10. He was taken aback by the increased level of competition when the regular season began, and the team went 6-10.
``Is there an exact science to preseason?'' defensive end Andre Carter said. ``You've seen teams that have lost in preseason and won in the regular season, and vice versa. I do believe, from the experience last year, you need to win the majority of your preseason games. It's just a mind-set of getting that winning mentality.''
 

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