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.
That's a wrap for Friday folks.
This article was released on 2003-08-01.
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