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Espy Hopes to Stay On Fast Track




Although temperatures were in the mid-90s at Redskins Park during the first week of summer camp, rookie wide receiver Mike Espy seemed not at all bothered.

"I'm from Mississippi, where we're used to two-a-days when it's 100 degrees out," the 5-11, 195-pound Espy declared. "This is nothing."

What was something was Espy's third day of camp, a sweltering Tuesday.

In the morning he caught a pass in an area manned by middle linebacker Lemar Marshall, who--in the hardest hit of camp--slammed into Espy so solidly the wide receiver lost his helmet.

Then, in the evening practice Espy extracted a measure of revenge versus the Redskins' defense when he caught a brilliantly-thrown TD pass from Todd Collins.

Asked about Marshall's morning hit, which would have been a Tom Jackson "Jacked Up" candidate if it were the regular season, Espy seemed to shrug it off, saying: "I've taken harder hits than that. It was actually my fault. I should have had my chin strap on tighter."

Bouncing back from Marshall's hit helped Espy gain respect from Redskins players and coaches. Further, in the first two weeks of camp the rookie from Ole Miss was singled out by such teammates as Brandon Lloyd and Jason Campbell as a youngster to watch.

Espy and Campbell hooked up for a sizable game in the Aug. 5 scrimmage versus Baltimore at FedExField.

"I don't care about the odds," said Espy, whose father, Mike, was Secretary of Agriculture in the Clinton administration. "I'm just working hard to make the most out of this opportunity. Wide receiver, special teams, whatever. I just want to make this team."

Key dates for young players like Espy are Aug. 29 (when the Redskins have to cut down to 65 players) and Sept. 2 (when they have to get down to 53).

Says Redskins wide receivers coach Stan Hixon: "Mike has come into this camp and shown some speed and some skills. Let's see how he does in the preseason games. Those games will be key for a lot of players, especially the young ones."

After a week and a half, Espy appeared to have a fighting chance at sticking around--even though wide receiver is a position at which the Redskins are loaded.

Espy played four years at Mississippi, starting 13 games as a sophomore. He expected to be drafted but signed with the Redskins in May as an undrafted free agent instead.

During his father's political career, Mike Espy spent a lot of time in the Nation's Capital. He always considered the Redskins his favorite team and come early September he'll be hoping they'll look favorably upon him in turn.

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