Edwards, Hoage glad to find Skin-tight fit


CARLISLE, Pa. -- Hard by the Pennsylvania Turnpike and miles from nowhere, this sleepy college town is not exactly a football utopia.

But to Brad Edwards and Terry Hoage, there is no better place to be this summer than in the training camp of the Washington Redskins.

These two cerebral safeties arrived at that conclusion from divergent, yet similar paths. Edwards came to the Redskins from the Minnesota Vikings a year ago via Plan B free agency. Hoage took the Plan B train from Philadelphia last February.

Ask Edwards about his two years in Minneapolis and he recalls a talent-laden team that pulled apart because of self-interests. Ask Hoage about his time with the Eagles and he succinctly delivers a knockdown punch to the team former coach Buddy Ryan built.

What is the difference in the Eagles' and Redskins' organizations?

"Class," Hoage said, and he didn't mean it as an endorsement for Philadelphia.

Why couldn't the Eagles, talented as they were, survive a first-round playoff game each of the last three years?

"They weren't disciplined enough," Hoage said.

Edwards said the biggest difference between the Vikings and Redskins dealt with team harmony.

"Here there is a lot more communication between the staff, front office and players," he said. "The Vikings were loaded [with quality players], but their attitude was not there all the time. Here you see guys pulling for each other. There's a good team concept on the Redskins, as good as you get in this league."

In Washington, Hoage will find generous portions of discipline and Edwards will find a camaraderie rare by NFL standards. But as fate would have it, these two look-alike blonds will be battling for the same job, the starting free safety position vacated when the Redskins gave veteran Todd Bowles a Plan B pink slip last winter.

Edwards, 25, opens camp as the starter. His one year in the Redskins' system figures to be no small factor.

"It's a huge advantage," he said yesterday. "We do more than any other team in the league in the amount of checks and ajustments we do.

The Redskins' free safety plays head games, setting up the defense for the kill. And he's expected to supply the big play. After five years, the Redskins decided Bowles dropped too many would-be interceptions and missed too many play-stuffing tackles to keep the job.

Edwards, whose father Wayne spent five years in the Orioles' farm system, started seven of 25 games as a second-round draft pick in Minnesota. Along the way he showed big-play potential. Yet he was exposed to Plan B after suffering a neck injury in 1989 and the Redskins signed him. Last year he made 45 tackles and two interceptions as a third-down safety in the nickel defense.

Hoage, 29, enjoyed the best of his eight pro seasons in 1988 with the Eagles when he picked off eight passes as a nickel back.

"The thing that frustrated me was that I wasn't on the field all the time, just in the nickel," he said. "I'm capable of making big plays. In college [at Georgia] I led the nation with 12 interceptions."

Hoage started his NFL career in New Orleans, but was cut when Jim Mora became coach of the Saints. The rap on Hoage then was his less-than-blazing speed, "the same knock I've had since high school," he said.

In Philadelphia, Hoage said he became disenchanted when he wasn't able to win a starting job the last few years there. "I did everything they asked me," he said. "I created turnovers, I ran the nickel defense, I coached guys on the field. Yet I could never break through and be the starter."

And thats the motivation for Edwards and Hoage this training camp.

"I'm sure Brad was excited when Todd left because he knew he'd get a chance to start," Hoage said. "I know I'm xcited. Whoever wins, the other one will be a little disappointed. But I've been in the league eight years, and thats long enough to know a lot of things can happen."

The Redskins' veterans will get their first taste of live action tonight in a 7:30 scrimmage against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Carlisle High School . . . Saturday the Redskins scrimmage the New York Jets at Lehigh College in Bethlehem . . . Cornerback Martin Mayhew, who ended his contract holdout yesterday, said he felt uncomfortable knowing the Redskins were working out while he sat "at home watching Oprah. You kind of feel like you're missing out on something." . . . Defensive tackle Darryl Grant, whose roster spot could be in jeopardy, is out two to four weeks with a calf injury.

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