Friday marked the opening of the 2007 Washington Redskins Training Camp. Though the skies looked ominous when the practice started, the rain held off and the humidity was actually quite tolerable. The weather never seems to keep the die hard Redskin fans away - there were thousands of people at practice to get their first look at the 2007 squad.
It's always tough to gauge anything from the very first practice, in fact, in recent years, it's become increasingly difficult to gain much insight from any of the open practices at all. They've become so generic and vanilla, that it has become necessary to look at the team from a broader perspective. Here are some day one observations:
1) The team looked sharp. Often times it takes a few 'camp days' for the team to get into the swing of things, but they were very crisp and workmanlike on Friday. There wasn't much idle chit chat on the field either - players were just going about their business.
2) Both Mark Brunell and Jason Campbell threw the ball very well. Campbell short hopped a couple of passes and threw a few too long, but he also threw a lot of tough intermediate balls into tight spaces. That was good to see as it can often take some time for the quarterbacks to start threading balls in there. Brunell actually looked the sharpest he ever has on a Redskins Camp Day One; it often takes him until the second week of camp to even look like he has an arm, but not so this year.
3) Brandon Lloyd may have only gained ten pounds but he looks like a completely different player because of it. He looks very strong both in his upper body and lower body. He ran a lot of straight go routes on Friday.
4) Carlos Rogers has Fred Smoot pushing him for playing time this year and it looks like that's really going to help the Redskins secondary. Rogers was great on Friday - very serious and very focused. He was aggressive all day long in drills but especially so in the eleven-on-elevens. Nobody was having much fun trying to beat him deep or short.
5) Mike Sellers still looks nasty. He may have shed some weight but he still looks like the last guy that you want to get in front of when he has a full head of steam.
6) Laron Landry was the only Redskin not in attendance. He's the first Redskin hold out since 2002 (Patrick Ramsey), but it appears that the hold out won't last long. "It's close, and both sides are working hard. I'd be real disappointed if it doesn't happen real quick," said coach Joe Gibbs.
7) Corey Bradford, the latest Redskin acquisition, was wearing the number 19.
8) Randy Thomas didn't participate in all of the drills. He was held back on a few, to allow for his knee to get better as he's still suffering some soreness and the team wants to be careful. Thomas had surgery on June 13, so discretion would seem the better part of valor.
9) Practice wasn't scheduled to start until 5pm, but players were already on the field at 4pm when the fans were allowed to start entering the Park. That's not something that is as common as some people might hope, but was great to see.
10) The overall team humility was the most tangible aspect of the Redskins' first practice. Last year started with all kinds of bravado about how far the Redskins were going to go in 2006; not so this year. Finishing a season at 5-11 has a tendency to make people check their bluster at the door, and there was no sign of any of it on Friday. This team seems genuinely disgusted with last season's performance, and they seem bound and determined to put last year as far in the rear view mirror as possible.
Day two of training camp kicks off officially at 4:30pm on Saturday. Gates will open one hour before that as usual. Bring water, and bring some Redskin attitude.
Be sure to watch B. Lloyd take part in the 2007 NFL Quarterback Challenge airing Friday, August 3, from 7-9 p.m. on ESPN.
The special will also include a feature story chronicling Lloyd's two days spent working with the Stay-Focused Organization during his time in the Cayman Islands.