Redskins Training Camp - Day 1
THN was out in full force for day 1 of 2005 Washington Redskins training camp and it was typical Joe Gibbs. After a multitude of individual drills, the team lined up in 7-on 7 and 11-on-11 drills to entertain the crowd.
Quarterback: The most noticeable thing about the quarterback battle, aside from the absence of first round pick Jason Campbell who is finalizing his contract, was the vast improvement over the quarterback play from last years training camp.
Patrick Ramsey and Mark Brunell and Patrick Ramsey looked sharp -- sharper than at any point during the portion of training camp open to the public in 2004. Brunell seemed to be able to hit his target on a consistent basis and Ramsey seems not only to have continued to improve his rapport with H-back Chris Cooley, but also to have developed a chemistry with the newly acquired David Patton as well.
Bryson Spinner had a decent day, but clearly has not had time to fully absorb the offensive set. He did provide a flash of athleticism rarely seen in a Joe Gibbs quarterback, as he turned a broken play into a 5-yard game with his quick feet.
Wide Receiver: As I stated previously, Ramsey and Patton seemed to have found a groove early in their time together. Ramsey seemed to find Patton open in the end zone all afternoon. THN favorite Darnerien McCants also had a pretty good day, using his size and physicality to make some big catches.
While Kevin Dyson and Taylor Jacobs both had a rather inauspicious showing today, undrafted rookie Rich Parson and the former Carolina Panther Nathan Black performed well. Black, after missing the first few weeks, finished the NFL - Europe season strong with the Rhein Fire, and his football shape stood out on special teams and receiving drills.
On a special note, no player epitomizes the Washington Redskins quite like James Thrash. Thrash entered the league as an undrafted rookie free agent in 1997, and has turned his hard work and dedication into quite an NFL career. Unfortunately, the most dependable player on the roster missed the first day's practice due to the death of his father. He is excused from practice indefinitely, in order to grieve with his family. THN would like to offer our thoughts and prayers to the Thrash family in this time of mourning.
Center: The offensive line removed themselves to the far back corner of the practice field to run individual drills, and did not really make an appearance until the full team drills took place towards the end of practice. From the little data THN was able to gather from these drills, both Raymer and Rabach seemed equally adept at setting protection packages at the line, and both protected the quarterback equally well.
Middle Linebacker: The drills the Redskins chose to run today were not very conducive to judging the participants of this battle. One telling sign in how this battle is going however is that Lemar Marshall spent a lot of time in the middle during the team drills at the end of practice.
Safety Net: Sean Taylor appeared to be genuinely happy to be at Redskins Park. The buzz around camp was that the whole experience in south Florida has been an eye-opening experience. Taylor, who appears to be at least 10 pounds heavier and every bit as fast, forced a fumble and intercepted a deflected pass during team drills.
It is also of note, that no one signed autographs after practice longer than Sean Taylor. Taylor seems to be trying to make peace with the fans after a tumultuous offseason, and judging by the reaction of the fans, it is fair to say that at least the fans in attendance loved every minute of it.
Big Hit Bowo: Matt Bowen made a bone-crushing hit on Chris Cooley in the end zone of today's practice. Of course, Cooley hopped up, slapped his hands together and lamented about the dropped ball, but there is no denying that the cause of the dropped pass was all Bowen. Based on the start he had last season, the Bowo's return in the secondary could make for some exciting football.
Speaking of Cooley: Chris spent this offseason working on two things: blocking and increasing his speed. While his blocking technique was not showcased today, his speed work appears to have paid off, as well as an offseason gelling with quarterback Patrick Ramsey. Ramsey seemed to be able to find Cooley on any given play, and other than the pass broken up by Bowen, Cooley caught everything thrown in his direction.
The Antonio Brown Phenomenon: Antonio Brown was the talk of Redskins mini-camp, with his impressive speed and shifty running style. If you have not seen this guy in person, you have no idea what you are missing. In what could easily be labeled the play of the day, Brown received a punt and just embarrassed a pursuing linebacker with a cutback that seemed to defy the law of physics. If Brown were wearing a shiny black trench coat, one would have sworn it was a scene from the Matrix movies.
Finding Nemo: Nemo Broughton displayed the tough, bruising style that enamored the Redskins prior to the draft. Broughton repeatedly bounced off of defenders, who seemed to hit him harder every play. If Broughton was brought in for the "Gerald Riggs" role to complement the cut-and-go style of Clinton Portis, opposing teams may be in deep trouble.
Achilles Watch: Jon Jansen showed no sign of the injury that ended last season before it began. Jansen seemed to be able to move in any direction without limitation, and appears to be back in top form already. This could be the year the Jansen finally makes the move from under-appreciated, under-rated pillar of strength to Pro Bowl Tackle.
New Fashion Trend: Everyone who saw it loved it. No, it was not the shaved head of kicker John Hall, who typically looks ore like a professional surfer than a place kicker. While that surely did not go unnoticed, the talk of the day started as soon as the quarterbacks stepped out on the field in their shiny gold jerseys with burgundy numbers. Dan Snyder, if you are reading this, do not pass up on this merchandising opportunity.
Notably Absent: Unable to practice today due to injury recovery were LaVar Arrington and Brandon Noble. Jason Campbell and Carlos Rogers were absent today, pending the completion of contract negotiations, although reports indicate at the time of this writing that Jason Campbell has signed his rookie deal. James Thrash is excused, tending to personal business.
This article was released on 2005-08-01.
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