Well it's another beautiful afternoon in Ashburn, and that can mean only one thing... a no-pads practice.
The first half hour of practice this afternoon was actually pretty dull. My new chum Brian (redskinfan on this board) and I were remarking that it was the first time that we had to walk around and try to find something to do or watch. The offense and defense all split into their respective units, but the sessions were more instructing than practicing. I watched the offensive line but there really wasn't much to notice except that Dockery is still REALLY big. He signed an autograph today and I was sure I'd get a kink in my neck from looking up. He's an absolute house. The only comments I have are that coach Helton seemed pleased with their performance and that Samuels, Jansen, Moore, Thomas and Fiore are an absolute buffet nightmare.
Before I go on about practice, I want to add that Brandon Noble is becoming a personal favorite of mine. The guy is just grizzly looking and what a football player should look like with his big beard. he belongs on the offensive line with the Hogs. He walked past me on the way out to practice and I was trying to be witty, so I asked him if he had a good lunch. He just smiled, rubbed his belly and said "He sure did." After practice he was down on the field with a very young boy who may have been his son, and it was just a great juxtaposition of size. I have enclosed the pic on the photos page. The guy is awesome, I hope he has a good year.
Back to practice, after the 'instruction' sessions, the team lined up for some kickoffs. I went and stood at the end being kicked to, so that I could see how far John Hall was kicking it. He kicked to the 1, 8, and 3 yard lines with 3 of his kicks. Another one of them was either a squib kick or a total duff, we couldn't tell. Then they practiced some on-side kicks and it was apparent that Hall was very adept. Two kicks, and both were very effective. The first one bounced about 20 feet in the air on the second bounce and was about as perfect an on-side kick as you can have.
Then the practice livened up a little with some passing drills. Patrick Johnson got a few more reps today, or a few more looks from the QB anyway. He was definitely better. Rob johnson on the other hand was the same.... unimpressive. We have also been hearing that Spurrier is trying to change Johnson's mechanics and that Johnson isn't comfortable at all yet, so that may have something to do with some of his bad passes. We started counting his double clutches today and we counted at least four, he's also shuffling his feet and throwing off his back foot a lot. It's a stark contrast to Ramsey...
... who looks just awesome. Everyone oohs and aahs as he zips in pass after pass. He wasn't as accurate today as he was yesterday, but he shows another very endearing quality when he's not perfect... his passion. He gets mad at himself when he's even a fraction of an inch off and he gets pumped when he is not. He shows a very Favre-ish love for the game and that can only be a good thing. He was great to the kids with autographs again today, the guy really is infectious.
The last 15-20 minutes of practice were full offense vs defense and at full speed. There were a lot of great plays from the offense including Chad Morton making some great plays both running and receiving. This guy is explosive. he just gets lost in the line and then squirts out the other side on his runs and he ran two really tight routes that he capped off with sure catches and quck bursts down the sideline.
While I was watching Morton break one of his runs, I noticed Rasha Bauman on the sideline with ice on his shoulder. He didn't look too uncomfortable but obviously he wasn't practicing. That was about the time that we noticed that the secondary was also without Fred Smoot but we later found out that he had just had a tough time with the heat at the morning practice. He's fine.
At one point there was even a scuffle when Jon Jansen and Mike Cecere got into a little shoving match. It was short-lived but it was nice to see that kind of spirit in a non-pads practice.
On the defensive side, Bruce Smith was a lot more noticeable today with some good pressures and a batted ball. he's taking it easy, but he looks in great shape and more importantly, he looks happy out there. It's a far cry from the treatment he received from Marty Schottenheimer.
Champ Bailey is still Champ Bailey, he had some great pass defenses. I watched an interview with him last night and he looked bitter about not having had his contract re-done yet, but apparently today talks were picked up with the new money gained by dumping Big Daddy.
Matt Bowen continues to impress me with his speed and determination. He nearly tracked down Kenny Watson from behind today when everyone would have given up without a thought. That kind of work ethic will have him in great shape for the season and we're going to be 1/2 way there at safety. Unfortunately, I'm not sold on the other half. Interestingly, the first defense has consisted of a safety tandem of Bowens and Terrell while I have been here, not the Bowen and Ohalete combo that I as expecting.
The only real piece of bad news came at the end of the practice when someone rolled up on Lavar Arrington's ankle. He was down on the ground for a while and walked off the field very gingerly, but it was on his own. hopefully it won't be serious but I would suspect that he is going to miss some practice time.
On the injury front, Kevin Mitchell was back this afternoon, and Tre was still on the bike and not practicing. Apparently he hurt his achilles slightly in the first practice, but he's been riding the bike hard and I don't think it's very serious.
That's a wrap for this afternoon. Tomorrow morning should be a good practice with only a morning session scheduled.