Davis Personifies Redskins' Depth

Article excerpt

The news that Terry Allen might miss Sunday's game with a fractured thumb has caused surprisingly few palpitations at Redskin Park. This says less about Allen, whose contributions are obvious, than it does about the kid playing behind him, Stephen Davis, whose potential is just as obvious. It also says something about the team as a whole - specifically, that after three-plus years of rebuilding, the Redskins are at long last developing some depth.

We saw it in the opener at Carolina when Gus Frerotte was knocked breathless and had to come out for a couple of plays. A year ago, it would have been Heath Shuler, our old whipping boy, who jogged in from the sideline. But on Sunday night it was Jeff Hostetler, as able a veteran backup as you'll find, who came to the rescue.

The Depth Factor was also evident when the Redskins rushed for 198 yards against the Panthers - despite the absence of their two starting guards.

And when the defense, minus holdout Sean Gilbert, held Carolina to only 10 points.

And when Leslie Shepherd, the No. 4 receiver, set up the first Washington touchdown with a 43-yard catch and scored the clincher with 6:36 left.

Nobody in the NFL has across-the-board depth anymore. Free agency has seen to that. You just hope your injuries come at positions where you do have somebody who can step in. And that's been the case so far with the Redskins. If they lost one of their cornerbacks - or tight end Jamie Asher - they'd probably feel it a lot more. But they're pretty well covered just about everywhere else. Better than most teams, at least.

And better than they were last season. "Obviously," Norv Turner said yesterday, "we were a little beat up a year ago, and we missed a couple of guys at the end." Ed Simmons for one. Michael Westbrook for another. (Alvin Harper was brought in to solve the wideout problem, but the club still looks a little thin at right tackle. It was hoped that second-year man Andre Johnson would be part of the solution, but he played so horribly he was cut.)

The offensive line depth is particularly crucial, because the Redskins don't expect to have their entire first unit together until Week 5, when Tre Johnson returns from shoulder surgery. Bob Dahl will be back in the starting lineup this weekend against Pittsburgh, sending impressive rookie Brad Badger to the bench, but for the time being Joe Patton will remain at left guard and Shar Pourdanesh at left tackle. …