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Saunders Set to Zero In On His New Players

Associate head coach-offense Al Saunders expects to fully evaluate his new offensive players over the next few weeks--but so far, his first impressions are positive.

In his introductory press conference on Monday, Saunders suggested that the Redskins' offense has components similar to what he had in Kansas City when he helped guide the Chiefs' offense to a No. 1 overall ranking each of the last two years.

Saunders said one of his top priorities is to review Redskins game films from the 2004-05 seasons so that he can "get a better feel for the personnel." He will also talk with members of the coaching staff about each offensive player.

"I'll be more familiar with the personnel as we go through the process of evaluating players," he said during the press conference.

Saunders said he would evaluate the talent based in part on the skill level of individual players and how they fit in his offense.

"For me, the biggest thing is to find out what people do best and put them in a position to do it," he said. "Part of our shifting and movements and all of the packages that we run are designed to do that--put the skill position players in position where they can make plays. You don't ask them to do what they can't do."

Saunders said he had not made an evaluation of the team's quarterback situation yet.

Veteran Mark Brunell ended the 2005 campaign as the starter. Fourth-year player Patrick Ramsey's future with the team is uncertain. And last year's first-round draft pick Jason Campbell is waiting in the wings.

"Mark probably had the best year he's had in some time," Saunders told TV's Larry Michael on Monday. "Patrick Ramsey is a first-round choice who's been around for four years. And you have a young draft pick in Jason Campbell out of Auburn who has a lot of potential.

"We'll sort all of that out. I'm sure Joe has some real strong feelings about what's going to happen at that particular position--and I'll be a part of that decision-making process. I'm sure it'll take a little while to sort everything out, but I like the talent there."

Referring to running back Clinton Portis, Saunders said during his press conference: "I know that guy who carries the football--we saw him run up and down Arrowhead Stadium a few times."

In five games against Saunders' Chiefs since 2002, mostly as a member of the Denver Broncos, Portis accumulated 636 rushing yards on 102 carries and 10 touchdowns. He also totaled 17 catches for 255 yards and one touchdown.

Last season with the Redskins, Portis set a franchise single-season record with 1,516 rushing yards on 352 carries.

"Certainly, Clinton Portis is outstanding," Saunders said. "When you gain that many yards, it's a situation like what we had in Kansas City with Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson. The [Redskins'] offensive line is strong. That's where it all starts, up front with the offensive and defensive lines."

Saunders called wide receiver Santana Moss, who caught 84 passes for a Redskins single-season record of 1,483 yards, the type of player who, with his blazing speed, can "stretch the perimeter and make plays down the field."

H-back Chris Cooley, who caught 71 passes for 774 yards last season, could serve in a similar role of Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez in the Kansas City offense.

"He's a bright guy who can do the kinds of things Tony Gonzalez did for us in Kansas City," Saunders said.

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