I just want to say soething before I post the summary of this morning's practice... I have had a little more time to folow the local news around here (all sources) and I have to tell you... I don't know what training camp they're watching, but it isn't the Redskins. Nearly everything I reads is COMPLETELY wrong. I just don't understand it. When Ramsey looks good, they don't say anything. When he looks bad (like today) they say he looks good. One source listed the runnung backs and seemingly in order, with Chad Morton last on the list and saying he isn't getting many reps. Maybe they don't know his number, because I assure you, he's had as many or more touches than any of the other backs. Anyway... on with the report.
Practice was busy again today despite the badweather. Today is actually the first day that we have been rained on during the practice. I arrived early today (8:00am) to try and catch a few players as they came on to the field. I quickly found my new buddy Jake sitting onthe walkway out to the field and he informed me that today was Darnerian McCants birthday. So when Darnerian came out and tried to sneak down the back way, he had to come over when he heard us singing. FOX TV cme over and made us sing it again, but I just caught their 12:00 news and it wasn't on... so maybe at 6pm. Unfortunately for his birthday, Darnerian got an injury. He did not fnish practice but I did not see what happened.
I also met up with RedskinsFreak and we watched practice together. Thanks Steve, I enjoyed meeting the man behind the e-mails
Practice was unimpressive yet again today. After stretching and a few short non-contact drills, the team broke into some 7-0 drills. The offense ran quite a few plays and just were not in synch. There were a few highlights, like Cliff Russell making an acrobatic catch out of bounds, but for the most part, Ramsey just wasn't as sharp today. I don't know if it was his grip on the ball because of all the rain, but he was not spectacular.
Then they ran some 11 on 11. Kenny Watson busted a big run and continues to work hard every practice. There are a lot of people here that are under the impression that he's on the block and might be he odd man out with Ladell Betts, Chad Morton and Trung Canidate here too. But it won't be for a lack of trying. Everyone who tells me that kenny 'might get cut' follows it up with 'But I hope not'.
Matt Bowen struck again. He destroyed Patrick Johnson who appeared to be slightly shaken up on the play. While I'm sure that the media will find the bad in it, I've been watching Bowen almost exclusively when I'm watching the defense, and there was absolutely no intent. It looked to me like an accidental collision, but Bowen is a rock and definitely got the better of Patrick. Bowen just stood there while PJ tried to remember if he had picked up milk this morning. Lavar Arrington was jacked about it though, and whether the coaches liked it or not, #41 is endearing himself to both the fans and to the other members of the defense. When it's Tiki Barber getting scraped up from a Bowen smack... I'm sure all will be forgiven.
Ramsey through a badly thrown interception during this session, and their just wasn't a lot of fluidity once again. Even Laveranues Coles missed a ball today and I don't remember seeing him miss a ball that he should have caught yet in camp. Rob Johnson has tendinitis in his elbow? Good... because he needs some sort of excuse for why he is throwing so inconsistently. Gibran Hamdan did not get many reps today presumably because Johnson was held out of yesterday's practice and Hamdan got a lot of reps.
After some 11 on 11, they broke into some special teams drills. Bryan Barker and Bart Bartolomew took turns punting to Morton, Sean Dillard and Scott Cloman. Bartholomew is really pushing for a roster spot. He punted higher and longer than Barker once again today. All 3 return men looked good catching the ball with not a single bobble between them in 10+ kicks. Cloman was EXTREMELY noticeable today. He made 3 great catches including a hail mary type pass that he got up over everybody and pulled it down. Richmond Flowers was also back to his usual 'I don't drop passes' self with another good practice registered. This guy works hard and will take the place of someone like a Justin Skaggs that struggles to make the squad but that everybody loves.
The team then went back to 11 on 11 drills again but this time they moved the chains with the plays as opposed to just running the m continuously from the same line of scrimmage. Again Ramsey was a little off throwing two interceptions trying to force passes in. One of the INT's was a nice pick by Champ stepping in front of a would be completion and running back the ball for a TD. Perhaps the most incredible part of this play though was that Bailey was running right in front of me and I couldn't help but notice Chris Samuels in a dead sprint to try and catch Bailey. That's right... Samuels. To be honest with you, it actually looked like he might! Awesome... just awesome. He is an incredible specimen, in fact the whole line is.
He also had some great passes that he is really te only QB on the roster that would have had a hope of making the pass. I stress here... he was only off slightly and that's to be expected every now and agin with it being the first week of camp. His performance didn't hurt his attitude any though, as once again he stayed out on the field the longest signing autographs.
My last observation about practice is that despite being sloppy, it was tenacious. Things got pretty heated on one particular play and afight broke out. Unfortunately, the huge huddle around the combatants made it impossible to tell who they were, but it was more than just a shoving match. Lavar actually was the first one into the huddle to break it all up (from the sideline, he didn't practice today). It's nice to see some fire in their bellies in my opinion.
That's a wrap for this morning... I've only got a couple left before I head back to Canada... that is unless someone has a guest house and a private jet that I can fly back in at the end of camp.
It's Friday afternoon and today may be the last real practice that I get to see with tomorrow being Fan Appreciation Day. There is a practice tomorrow morning at 9:00am too, but with festivities kicking off at 12:30, I'm not sure how hard they will practice.
It was another hot, humid afternoon here in Ashburn. As has been the case all week, that meant a no-pads practice. There were a lot of guys that were sat out of today's practce... 14 in total I believe. Some of the guys that sat were established guys that are rehabbing injuries like Jeremiah Trotter. Lavar Arrington sat out again this afternoon due to his slight concussion and Bruce Smith continued his regimen of only one practice per day. Other notable MIA's were Rock Cartwright (concussion) and Darnerian McCants who hurt himself this morning. Darnerian was a little down this afternoon, but he did tell us that it was his right hamstring and he was hoping to be back practicing on Monday.
Unfortunately, my view of practice today was somewhat limited for the first half hour. One of the staff at Redskin Park gave me a tip that most of practice would be on the opposite field today due to the condition of the one that is the closest to the fans. The 'far' field was not accessible this morning so it was looking like nobody would get to see much of anything. Luckily, the same guy that tipped me stood beside me when he was talking on his walkie talkie with the brass about whether or not they would allow the fans access to the other side. They decided that they would and being that I was the first one to know, I was the first one over there... I guess I'm getting to be an old training camp vet now While we're on the topic of staff, there are numerous staff at Redskin Park that have been extremely nice and they even recognize Shelagh and I, when we get to the gate now. I just wanted to formally thank them in case they're on the board because they are just some of the really great Redskin fans that we have met while we have been here.
So while I may not have had a very good view of the first half hour of practice, I was front row center for most of the remainder. What I did see in the first half hour was the secondary, so I did get to watch Matt Bowen again in drills. Full-speed motor... excellent speed... I feel like I'm repeating myself, but if you're at Redskin Park and not noticing #41, you're not watching very closely. Fred Smoot was another of the non-practicing players so I spent most of the time watching Champ and Matt. You can't tell much during these drills, but what is apparent is how good someone like Champ really is. They always say that a cornerback is a wide receiver that can't catch. Not Champ. He caught EVERY single ball thrown at him in practice and has all week. I'm not sure I'm too fond of the 'I need to get paid' attitude that he has recently developed, but he is a rare commodity and underpaid, so I guess it's somewhat acceptable.
They also did some kickoff drills and wow, can John Hall ever kick the ball. He was kicking it to the 10 yard line without even taking a run-up (which is his regular style). He was just taking pot shots and was still kicking the ball as far as any kicker we've had in Washington for quite some time.
After 30-40 minutes, the offense joined the defense on the field in front of me for some passing drills. Wow, what a difference from this morning. Patrick Ramsey was back to the form that he has displayed during most of camp... stellar. He just throws the ball so darn hard. He was making excellent reads and had great passes in every variety... short, medium, long, in to coverage, whatever he had to do to as I heard Spurrier say, 'stick that ball in there.' On one particular play, Ramsey audibled out of the called play and barked 'BLUE 60 WHEELIE, BLUE 60 WHEELIE.' I didn't have a clue what the play was, but after watching P-Ram drop back and float a beautiful touch pass in to the end zone for a TD... I want to see a lot of Blue 60 Wheelies in the regular season.
The receivers looked good too, with Patrick Johnson, Laveranues Coles and Patrick Woodcock all pulling in passes for big gains. Rod Gardner also made several tough catches in traffic and had another good practice. Richmond Flowers continues to impress me as well and made several good catches and didn't drop a ball.
Trung Canidate and Chad Morton both looked good catching the ball coming out of the backfield. I couldn't help but notice Trung really wrapping up the ball with both hands when he got into traffic. I don't know if this is the result of his previously published fumble issues or if he just practices good habits. Morton is just so explosive and has incredible lateral movement. The guy behind me joked that Chad could deke out his own shadow. On one particular play, he took a shovel pass coming out of the backfield and showed me that not getting this guy in to games as a third down back (at least) would just be a complete waste of talent. Luckily OC Hue Jackson was Morton's OC at USC and is very aware of Chad's abilities.
The second stringers seemed to get a lot of reps this afternoon. While Rob Johnson had a nice 35 yard TD pass to Coles, he continued to struggle. He had 3 interceptions in 4 passes at one point and just does not look very comfortable. It's early days yet, but if his play doesn't improve I would be surprised if the Redskins don't try and look for an alternative.
Gibran Hamdan gives every indication that he has the size and arm to play in this league, but he is going to take some time. He didn't get much playing time at Indiana behind Antwoin Randle El, but he's a local boy from Maryland and is very comfortable in his 'developmental' role. He has a cannon for an arm and putting Johnson's throws in between Ramsey's and Hamdan's is very unflattering to Johnson.
Leonard Stephens is playing well at TE. With Robert Royal having so much promise and being so big, I hope Stephens is not the odd man out if the Redskins sign another tight end (a la Walls).
Zeron Flemister did catch a nice pass for a long gain today but he has been unremarkable in what I've been able to see.
That's all I have for practic notes... but I have to say something more about Ramsey. He was last one signing autographs yet again today. The guy is just a saint with the kids. I had my picture taken with him today (as did many people) and you just couldn't ask for a star player to be more gracious with his time. Other players that have been great with the fans include McCants, Coles, Noble, Flowers, and Hamdan... they have been out long after practice signing autographs nearly every day this week.