Sunday, May 05, 2002

Spurrier already making mark

But other coaches aren't so sure it's a good one

Enquirer new services

        Even at this early stage, Washington's Steve Spurrier has forged an image as the NFL's anti-coach.

        He keeps regular hours, leaving ample time for golf at the three clubs he has joined since the move north from Florida.

        He has spent almost every second of his minicamps with the passing game, leaving the running backs to an underling, the defense to coordinator Marvin Lewis. When reporters asked former Giants linebacker Jessie Armstead about his new boss after the first minicamp, Armstead couldn't respond. He hadn't spoken to the man.

        Besides that, Spurrier has spent the first few months in the NFL signing five former Gators, most recently Bears quarterback Shane Matthews, to run the “Fun and Gun” offense he developed at UF.

        Though no one is ready to laugh him out of the league, many view Spurrier with brows raised high. Part of it has to do with work ethic in this 18-hour-a-day league. Part of it has to do with his plans to throw the ball all over FedEx Field with a gaggle of borderline receivers.

        His former college wideouts — Reidel Anthony, Jacquez Green and Chris Doering, none of whom has made any impact in the league — join an up-and-comer in Rod Gardner and a free agent leftover in Kevin Lockett. Add weak-armed quarterback Danny Wuerffel to the mix, and it's a wonder how any of them will get the ball.

        That's where Matthews comes in. The shaky performance of Wuerffel and Sage Rosenfels in last week's minicamp, and the youth of first-rounder Patrick Ramsey, forced Spurrier to sign him.

        Coaches are already skeptical over his all-throw mentality.

        “This game's about personnel,” Ravens coach Brian Billick said. “It's about managing people. There's no magical plays or routes. I haven't seen a schematic change in this league in 20 years.”

        EARLY RETURNS: Reports out of Houston and Detroit indicate the No.1 and No.3 picks overall, quarterbacks David Carr and Joey Harrington, made favorable impressions in their first minicamps.

        Detroit, especially, needs a quarterback who can resurrect this franchise from 2-14.

        “He's a sharp young man,” Lions coach Marty Mornhinweg said of Harrington. “I'd expect him to progress pretty quickly. He's easily coachable.”

        Expansion Houston will give Carr some time to grow under the tutelage of former Giants quarterback Kent Graham.

        “It's our job to make sure we don't put him on the field until he's ready to play,” Texans coach Dom Capers said.

        CHARGERS: Return specialist Tamarick Vanover, who spent two months in jail for his role in a stolen car case, agreed to a one-year, $525,000 contract with San Diego.

        If he makes the team, Vanover will be reunited with Marty Schottenheimer, who coached Vanover for four of his five seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs.

        “He's made some very poor decisions in some things, but he's really a good person and he was interested in getting back into the NFL,” said Schottenheimer, who also gave Vanover a workout last fall when Schottenheimer was coaching Washington.

        Vanover was sentenced in November 2000 to two months in jail, two months of home detention and three years of supervision after pleading guilty to one federal count of aiding and abetting the sale of a stolen vehicle that crossed state lines.

        He was also fined $10,000 and ordered to pay restitution of $6,241 to an insurance company.


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- Spurrier already making mark

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