It was another hot day in Ashburn today, 95 degrees when we hit the field. Surprisingly, it was the busiest practice yet. Redskin officials at the door estimated that over 8000 people made their way into Redskin Park to brave the heat.
Yet again, the defense was on the far field and could not be watched.
The first drill of practice was a special teams drill with Tom Tupa and Kevin Stemke kicking to a variety of receivers -- Chad Morton, Sean Dillard, and John Simon. It was an interesting punt drill. The kicker would kick the ball, and the returner holding a ball in his right hand, would wait for the punt to come down, and then would toss the ball in his right hand into the air, catch the ball with just his left hand and then also catch the ball that he had just thrown into the air. Results from Simon and Dillard were average with both of them hitting at about a 50% mark. Morton only dropped one, and honestly, made it look very easy. As a fan, such attention to detail is great to see.
Then the special teams unit went down to one end of the field and starting kicking field-goals, and the Offensive line moved to the other side to hit the sled. John Hall kicked terribly. I would say that he missed approximately 60% of his field-goals. Ola Kimrin, on the other hand, kicked well. He hit a higher percentage and actually kicked two balls over the net and into the forest. This is not to say that there is anything to worry about, Hall just had a bad day. Oddly enough, more of his misses hit the uprights and were from less than 35 yards.
About this point, Grant Paulsen came over and confirmed for us that Quincy Carter had indeed been cut by the Cowboys. A guy standing behind us was talking on the phone and was the first one to tell us but we knew that Grant would have the straight goods.
The Offensive line and tight-ends began doing 7-on-7 drills. Once again, there was no shortage of contact and lots of intensity. A melee ensued between Robert Royal and Billy Strother. Funny for a Canadian to go to a football practice and have a hockey game break out! It was perhaps the best training camp fight since Michael Westbrook versus Stephen Davis. At first, everybody just stood around and cheered, including the players. They seemed perfectly willing to let the two throw down. Then surprisingly, Regan Upshaw broke up the fight! No real punches seemed to be thrown but there was a lot of contact, and they both went to the ground. The rest of the 7-on-7 drills were unremarkable, except to say that the same attention to detail was evident, and the coaches continued to be very hands-on.
The team spent a great deal of time doing 11-on-11 drills today. Unfortunately, execution was not spectacular. It is also about the only time you got to watch the defense. Something observed once again today was the surprising ability of Marcus Washington to drop back in pass coverage. Twice, he made plays on the ball almost 20 yards back from the line of scrimmage. He is going to be a very welcomed addition to the 2004 linebacking core. He also has a great attitude and is probably spending as much time signing autographs and chatting with the fans as any other Redskin.
Sean Taylor spent a good deal of time on the sideline getting instruction, but on one particular play, he made a spectacular break for the ball and batted it down. He may not be able to pick an agent but he sure has game!
Not much more to add about the 11-on-11 except to say that Patrick Ramsey did not have a very good day. While he made some spectacular throws, many were high and he continues to double-clutch the ball. I am not sure if it was the heat or me, but Mark Brunell seemed to take fewer snaps today.
Practice concluded, and as has become the norm, Darnerian McCants did his best to run himself into heat exhaustion. Today, he succeeded! After doing three laps, he came to the ropes to sign autographs. He spent approximately 5 minutes signing before he began to clutch at his head and step back from the people. He turned around and began to stagger across the field. He was obviously in very bad shape. He actually staggered approximately half-way across before a Redskins trainer got to him with ice and a towel. He definitely needed help to get to the tent and they brought the ambulance down. Fortunately, he did not need the ambulance, walked to the cart on his own volition and looked like he was fine when they drove passed us.
From practice, I headed to WAGE 1200AM in Leesburg to be on The Coaches Corner radio show with Andy Hayes. He was kind enough to squeeze me in for 5 or 6 minutes, said some very nice things, and I am grateful for him giving me the opportunity.