Returner Smith seeking secondary job


The Baltimore Football Club will break camp at Towson State today after concluding two-a-day practices yesterday, and veteran defensive back Lester Smith won't miss the back-to-back sessions.

"Two-a-days are good for getting fundamentals down, but as a player, I don't think anybody looks forward to them. It's tough getting enough rest between practices," Smith said. "I like getting ready for games with one-a-days a lot better. And it's easier to take care of the nicks and bruises."

Smith, who made his mark as a rookie with Baltimore as the Canadian Football League's top punt returner -- he averaged 11.4 yards per return -- now will re-focus on winning a starting job in the secondary, which will be one of the toughest areas to crack on this veteran team.

All five backs -- cornerbacks Irv Smith and Karl Anthony, halfbacks Charles Anthony and Ken Watson and free safety Michael Brooks -- played every game together last year and formed the best backfield in the league.

"Beyond the top five, I don't think anyone can think they've made the squad," said Smith, who backed up Brooks last year and has been working out at free safety and halfback. "It's going to be extremely hard to break the top five. They're all experienced, great players."

Washington on the mend

Veteran wide receiver Joe Washington's camp got off to a rough start. He pulled a hamstring on his first day of practice, sat out the second day and has been working his way back to full speed ever since. Not having to practice twice a day will help the injury heal.

"It feels better some days than others, but I don't like sitting on the side," said Washington, who caught five passes for 121 yards in the playoffs last year.

"There's no security in this job. Saturday [the exhibition opener] will tell who the ballplayers are. I'll just try to play as hard as I can, catch whatever is thrown to me, make the right blocks and be in the right spots. Film doesn't lie. If they [the coaches] see me doing my job, then I've got nothing to worry about."

Punting's a snap

Punter Josh Miller, the best in the CFL last year, is on top of his game again. Miller came to camp stronger than ever after spending his off-season in the weight room. He also inherited a new long snapper in rookie Robert Davis, who still leaves Miller shaking his head. Yesterday, Miller, with Davis assisting, hit several punts of more than 50 yards with impressive hang time.

"The other day I was hitting balls with hang times of 5.4 and 5.5 seconds, and a good NFL punt is 4.3," Miller said. "He [Davis] is the man. All camp when he's been snapping, I've hit nothing but bombs. He likes his steaks medium rare, and he's going to be eating them all year."

Et cetera

Owner Jim Speros said he is talking with Towson State about using its facility for camp for the next two years. "It's a perfect setting, a great facility," Speros said. . . . The team will continue practicing at Towson State for about another two weeks, when its new dressing rooms at Memorial Stadium should be completed. . . . Home Team Sports will televise Saturday night's exhibition on tape delay at 9:30 p.m. Sunday.

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