WR Howard has a coach in his corner NFL TRAINING CAMP REPORT


CARLISLE, Pa. -- Cam Cameron knows that Desmond Howard isn't always a fast starter.

"He was the greatest thing since sliced bread coming out of high school and he didn't do anything for us [at Michigan] for two years," said Cameron, the Washington Redskins' new quarterback coach, who coached Howard at Michigan.

Howard emerged in his final two years at Michigan, won the Heisman Trophy as a senior and the Redskins made him the fourth pick of the 1992 draft.

His first two years with the Redskins were then a virtual replay of his first two years at Michigan. He made no impact. Last year, the wide receiver caught only 23 passes. He not only was unproductive, but there were whispers about his lack of work ethic.

Howard said the people who knew him at Michigan couldn't believe those stories.

"Those guys started hearing those stories about Desmond Howard not working hard and all that stuff last year, they didn't believe it. They knew it's not me," he said.

Cameron seconds that opinion.

"You can ask anybody on the coaching staff back in Ann Arbor. He was the hardest working player we had," he said.

So what did happen to Howard?

Howard said the whole offense wasn't working.

"The offense was basically unproductive [last year]. None of the receivers were lighting up the stats," he said.

Cameron said Howard may have been simply making the adjustment to pro ball.

"It's a major step," Cameron said. "It's like night and day between college and the NFL."

Whatever it is, this is Howard's now-or-never year. He's been handed a starting job in coach Norv Turner's offense and he's off to a fast start in camp.

"I think it's a steppingstone," Howard said.

Now he has to sustain it.

"I think the jury is out [on Howard]," Cameron said. "I think it's up to him."

Another victim

Add Rickey Jackson's name to the growing list of salary cap victims.

The 36-year-old, six-time Pro Bowl linebacker with the New Orleans Saints was upset that the team was offering him only about $500,000 after he made $1.3 million last year.

So Jackson kept waiting and the Saints got tired of waiting yesterday. They withdrew their offer and ended his 13-year career with the team.

"We had an offer on the table for six weeks," coach Jim Mora said. "Rickey has had an opportunity to consider this offer and make a decision. He did not make a decision."

Mora said the team decided it could use the money on other players.

"In order to begin negotiations with these players, we need to know we're going to have money to pay them and we need to free that money up," he said.

Jackson said he knew he had to take a cut, but not one as drastic as the Saints tried to get him to take.

"It's the principle of the thing," he said. "They just cut me below what I could accept."

He noted the offer was at least $300,000 less than the $800,000 figure defensive lineman Frank Warren will make this year.

"They could have at least kept me around what Frank is making," he said. "I would have been the lowest-paid linebacker on the team."

Although the Saints offered him a job in the organization, Jackson said he's not ready to retire and will try to find another team. He talked to Atlanta coach June Jones, but the Falcons said there were no negotiations.

Local rivalries

NFL officials aren't keen on local rivalries in the U.S. -- certainly not a Washington-Baltimore rivalry -- but they've decided they like them in Europe. They announced that Amsterdam, Dusseldorf and Edinburgh will join London, Frankfurt and Barcelona in the 1995 version of the World League.

Edinburgh and Dusseldorf might seem unusual choices, but NFL president Neal Austrian said they would provide local rivalries with London and Frankfurt.

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