Punting the only flaw in Redskins' opening act Goodburn out; veteran Roby in PRO FOOTBALL

ASHBURN, VA. — ASHBURN, Va. -- Richie Petitbon now thinks he knows what kind of football team he has this year.

"We really found out a lot about our team," the Washington Red- skins' coach said yesterday after viewing the videotape of the team's 35-16 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night.


"There were a lot of questions that were really answered last night. We didn't know about Brian [Mitchell]. We didn't know about our offensive line. We didn't know a lot of things. I think we got some positive answers last night," Petitbon said.

Unfortunately, for punter Kelly Goodburn, he got one negative answer.


The Redskins decided to waive Goodburn and sign veteran punter Reggie Roby after Goodburn averaged 39.4 yards with five punts in the game, including shanks of 25 and 29 yards.

Roby, 32, who is in his 11th season, was beaten out by Dale Hatcher in Miami this year. He's ninth on the all-time punting list with an average of 43.3 yards.

It didn't help Goodburn that the Cowboys mishandled two of his punts and that Pat Eilers recovered both, including one that led to a touchdown.

Petitbon said, "You're not going to get lucky bounces all the time."

He added, "With a guy like Roby out there, he's not going to be out there forever, so we just felt we had to do something."

Petitbon said Goodburn kicked better in camp when rookie Ed Bunn, drafted on the third round, was challenging him, but then reverted to his old form after Bunn lost the duel and departed.

"As soon as Bunn was gone, I don't know what happened. It's one of those things," Petitbon said.

Roby recently filed for bankruptcy, but Petitbon said, "I think he can still kick and that's the only thing that counts."


He added: "If the guy comes in and kicks, great. If he doesn't, we'll find somebody else."

Roby was scheduled to fly into Washington last night and will be signed today.

Except for the punting situation, Petitbon couldn't have been happier with the team's showing Monday night. He even acknowledged how important the game was.

"I think if you lose to Dallas at home, I think you probably have to expect to lose to them in Dallas. I think that puts you two games behind and I don't know if you can overcome that. I think realistically you have to look for a split against those guys, and, in order to get a split, I think you've got to win at home. You can't lose that [opener at home] and bounce back," he said.

Petitbon was particularly encouraged that the running game, which struggled in the exhibition season, was so effective. The team rushed for 171 yards and Mitchell gained 116 to take the league rushing lead.

"By no means did any of us think it was going to go as well as it did last night, but I knew we were able to run the ball better than we did in preseason, just for the simple reason I think there's more intensity up front and the timing gets down," Petitbon said.


The new short passing game installed by offensive coordinator Rod Dowhower also worked well after a slow start as the Redskins put together a pair of 13-yard drives and quarterback Mark Rypien completed 22 of 34 passes for 161 yards.

Dowhower acknowledged that when the Redskins fell behind 6-0, he never expected them to score 35 points. "I wouldn't have believed it," he said. "It was one of those rare games."

But Petitbon took his first head coaching victory almost in stride. He said it wasn't much different than winning as an assistant coach.

"I think you guys [the media] are building this thing up a lot more than you should. Everybody thinks I should be nervous. I'm not nervous. Everybody thinks this. Everybody thinks that. It's just not the way it is. You can think what you want. I'm just telling you the way it is," he said.

NOTES: Rookie DL Sterling Palmer suffered a knee injury and will undergo a magnetic resonance imaging exam today. He'll miss Sunday's game against Phoenix, along with LB Andre Collins (knee) and TE Terry Orr (back). . . . The Redskins decided not to bring back veteran S Todd Bowles this week.