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PRO FOOTBALL
Old friends Agnone, Flacco meet as rivals

Date published: 8/13/2009

BY RICH CAMPBELL

ASHBURN

--Robbie Agnone probably could have served his football team in more productive ways. It was five years ago, though, so he can chuckle about it now.

Drenched in sweat following the Washington Redskins' practice on Sunday, Agnone sat on a bench at Redskins Park and reminisced about how he spent his afternoons as a redshirt freshman quarterback at the University of Pittsburgh.

He vividly recalled one of his main practice duties: holding the helmet of and fetching water for the second-string quarterback, Joe Flacco.

"I knew him real well," Agnone said with a smile.

The tale of Agnone and Flacco's friendship begins there, winds its way through two separate universities and continues tonight when Agnone's Redskins travel north to play Flacco's Baltimore Ravens in the preseason opener for both teams.

You see, if anyone could have forecast Flacco's rise to NFL prominence, it was Agnone (pronounced AG-known), who now plays tight end. They were teammates at both Pitt and the University of Delaware after transferring within a year of each other. They were roommates at Delaware.

While many fans had their doubts when the Ravens drafted Flacco 18th overall last season, Agnone wasn't surprised when his friend helped guide the Ravens to the AFC championship game.

"I've seen a few NFL quarterbacks, and he's one of the most talented," Agnone said. "When you're around him every day, you see the things he does and how accurate he is. When we were at Delaware in practice, it was very rare to get a ball that wasn't just on the money. And he can make every throw. That's what I knew."

RIVALS TO FRIENDS

Flacco arrived at Pitt one year before Agnone, and the two were behind quarterback Tyler Palko on the depth chart.


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HOLD THE LINE

The Redskins' offensive line has not pass-blocked well during training camp. The protection has been so bad that it threatens to undermine everything the offense has going for it. RT Stephon Heyer has been shaky coming off a minor left knee sprain last week. Second-string RG Chad Rinehart, who could play in place of veteran starter Randy Thomas (right knee), has been regularly beaten by fourth-string defenders. Starting tonight, we can start to judge whether the front office did enough in the offseason to fortify this unit.

ROOKIE MONSTER

Rookie DE/LB Brian Orakpo could be one of the steals of the draft. He has beaten Pro Bowl LT Chris Samuels on occasion and has little trouble with lesser players. However, he remains a work in progress at the LB position. Watch to see how comfortable and effective he is on first and second downs, when he has to make reads away from the line of scrimmage. On third downs, watch him do what he does best.

THE GUNSLINGER

Second-year QB Colt Brennan figures to play quite a bit because starter Jason Campbell is expected to get only a dozen or so snaps. Brennan was a preseason all-star last summer, completing 68 percent (36-of-53) of his passes for 411 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in five games. mostly against third-stringers. The Redskins are eager to see what they have in Brennan, though, so he'll face better defenses over the next three weeks.

--Rich Campbell

REDSKINS vs. RAVENS

WHEN: Tonight, 7:30 p.m. WHERE: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore TV: WRC-TV 4, CSN

RADIO: WGRQ-FM 95.9