AM Practice
By: Mark Solway 
Posted: 2003-07-29
Category: Washington Redskins News
Traffic to Redskin Park was a little heavier today, probably because it's such a beautiful day in Ashburn.

I concentrated on the receivers this morning. When the squad split into offense and defense, the cornerbacks, the receivers and the quarterbacks all got together to run some routes at full speed. A lot of my observations were exactly as you would expect... Champ was near impossible to beat, Ramsey was on the money. There were also a few surprises, like the fact that Richmond Flowers caught EVERYTHING that was thrown at him. He made two circus catches on the sideleine, and did not drop a single pass all morning (that I saw). Obviously he is going to have a difficult time making the team, but if he practices all of training camp like he did today, he'd be very difficult to cut.

Laveranues Coles was awesome today, and for two reasons. One, he catches everything and he definitely looks like he's in shape and ready to be this team's go-to-guy. He ran crisp routes today and I constantly heard Steve Spurrier Jr. giving him props. He really is the only guy that seemed to test Champ. The second reason is that the man was a saint today with signing autographs for the kids. He stayed out about half an hour signing autographs and made sure he got every last person before he headed up the tunnel to the dressing room.

Darnerian McCants was very good today. He made several great catches and of all different types... crossing routes, sideline routes, posts... he just really seemed to be 'on' today. The crowds at Redskin Park do cheer occasionally on big plays or big hits, and McCants provided a few rounds of applause this morning.

Cliff Russell still looked as fast as greased lightning today, but he dropped a ball or two. This guy will really spread the defense.

Ditto for Taylor Jacobs who is not quite as fast as Russell, but he also came back to the ball well. Spurrier jr. seemed to be really happy with his route running and several times I heard him shout, 'That's the way Taylor."

Rod Gardner had an average day... he made a couple of tough over-the-middle grabs, but he also dropped a few passes.

Patrick Johnson was pretty good. He had a couple of good catches and he also had a couple of instances were you could tell that he was still learning the offensive playbook.

If I had to pick the receivers roster based on the two days of practice that I've watched so far, it would have to go Coles, Gardner, Russell, Jacobs, McCants, Johnson, Flowers.

The second half of the practice was full offense vs full defense in passing drills. A lot of my receiver observations above include thius session, but there were a couple of non-related receiver issues that I just wanted to mention:

Rob Johnson struggled today. He underthrew the ball a few times, and I don't think he has as good an arm as Ramsey (obviously) or Gibran Hamdan. So when Johnson throws between the two of them all the time, he often seemed to lack zip.

Kevin Mitchell was taken to the dressing room on a cart, but Robert Gillespie told me that Mitchell just had cramps.

Matt Bowen jammed his hand thowing himself at Cliff Russell, but appeared to be okay. I really like Bowen and think he will definitely help shore up the safety position some.

I also noticed that for a while today, Dave Fiore lined up at right guard and Randy Thomas lined up at left guard, the opposite of yesterday. I'm going to watch the offensive line exclusively this afternoon, so I will have a better scope of what's going on then.

Tre Johnson did not practice this morning, he was on an excercise bike for about an hour. Lloyd Harrison was also rehabbing on the unused field at Redskin Park. Bruce Smith was also not in pads.

Last thought for morning practice... if you don't already love Patrick Ramsey, just come to camp. He is spending a lot of time signing autographs and really talks to the young kids that gather around him. He and Coles are EXTREMELY gratious with their time. Today there was a young boy with his dad who wanted a photo and not only did Ramsey provide it, he made sure that the digital camera had captured the moment before he broke up their huddle. He was really great.

That's it for this morning. I'm going to have another go at uploading pics over the next hour, but my internet connectivity is just brutal and I have trouble staying online for any more than a few minutes at a time.
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