Training Camp Day 2
Traffic to Redskin Park was a little heavier today, probably because it's such a beautiful day in Ashburn.
I concentrated on the receivers this morning. When the squad split into offense and defense, the cornerbacks, the receivers and the quarterbacks all got together to run some routes at full speed. A lot of my observations were exactly as you would expect... Champ was near impossible to beat, Ramsey was on the money. There were also a few surprises, like the fact that Richmond Flowers caught EVERYTHING that was thrown at him. He made two circus catches on the sideleine, and did not drop a single pass all morning (that I saw). Obviously he is going to have a difficult time making the team, but if he practices all of training camp like he did today, he'd be very difficult to cut.
Laveranues Coles was awesome today, and for two reasons. One, he catches everything and he definitely looks like he's in shape and ready to be this team's go-to-guy. He ran crisp routes today and I constantly heard Steve Spurrier Jr. giving him props. He really is the only guy that seemed to test Champ. The second reason is that the man was a saint today with signing autographs for the kids. He stayed out about half an hour signing autographs and made sure he got every last person before he headed up the tunnel to the dressing room.
Darnerian McCants was very good today. He made several great catches and of all different types... crossing routes, sideline routes, posts... he just really seemed to be 'on' today. The crowds at Redskin Park do cheer occasionally on big plays or big hits, and McCants provided a few rounds of applause this morning.
Cliff Russell still looked as fast as greased lightning today, but he dropped a ball or two. This guy will really spread the defense.
Ditto for Taylor Jacobs who is not quite as fast as Russell, but he also came back to the ball well. Spurrier jr. seemed to be really happy with his route running and several times I heard him shout, 'That's the way Taylor."
Rod Gardner had an average day... he made a couple of tough over-the-middle grabs, but he also dropped a few passes.
Patrick Johnson was pretty good. He had a couple of good catches and he also had a couple of instances were you could tell that he was still learning the offensive playbook.
If I had to pick the receivers roster based on the two days of practice that I've watched so far, it would have to go Coles, Gardner, Russell, Jacobs, McCants, Johnson, Flowers.
The second half of the practice was full offense vs full defense in passing drills. A lot of my receiver observations above include thius session, but there were a couple of non-related receiver issues that I just wanted to mention:
Rob Johnson struggled today. He underthrew the ball a few times, and I don't think he has as good an arm as Ramsey (obviously) or Gibran Hamdan. So when Johnson throws between the two of them all the time, he often seemed to lack zip.
Kevin Mitchell was taken to the dressing room on a cart, but Robert Gillespie told me that Mitchell just had cramps.
Matt Bowen jammed his hand thowing himself at Cliff Russell, but appeared to be okay. I really like Bowen and think he will definitely help shore up the safety position some.
I also noticed that for a while today, Dave Fiore lined up at right guard and Randy Thomas lined up at left guard, the opposite of yesterday. I'm going to watch the offensive line exclusively this afternoon, so I will have a better scope of what's going on then.
Tre Johnson did not practice this morning, he was on an excercise bike for about an hour. Lloyd Harrison was also rehabbing on the unused field at Redskin Park. Bruce Smith was also not in pads.
Last thought for morning practice... if you don't already love Patrick Ramsey, just come to camp. He is spending a lot of time signing autographs and really talks to the young kids that gather around him. He and Coles are EXTREMELY gratious with their time. Today there was a young boy with his dad who wanted a photo and not only did Ramsey provide it, he made sure that the digital camera had captured the moment before he broke up their huddle. He was really great.
That's it for this morning. I'm going to have another go at uploading pics over the next hour, but my internet connectivity is just brutal and I have trouble staying online for any more than a few minutes at a time.
Tuesday afternoon and it's a scorcher here in Ashburn. I arrived a little early figuring that the good weather would bring people out in droves. It proved sound judgement as this afternoon was far and away the most heavily attended practice.
Unfortunately, the players all came out without their pads on which meant that we were going to be treated to a fairly low octane practice.
I sat by the offensive linemen for the first 15 minutes, but there was very little that you could determine in terms of physicality and strength. The linemen just did some light impact drills and worked on a few of their pulls. They split into a left half and a right half, with Chris Samuels, Randy Thomas and Larry Moore composing the left half and Jon Jansen, Dave Fiore, and Lennie Friedman making up the right. The backups all lined up as defenders and coach Helton went through the drills. Not much of note here except to say again that Derrick Dockery is absolutely massive. I stood about two feet from him today and he is a beast. Samuels gave us a great photo today. Folks when you're down here looking for photos and autographs, yelling Mr. Samuels as opposed to hey Chris will go a long way.
The next segment of the practice involved some trick plays. John Hall was lining up to kick a few field goals and then they were huttting directly to him for him to squib into the 'coffin corner'. There were a couple of really good ones with one going about on the one. he only kicked one field goal while they were lined up and he was good from 36 with at least 10 yeards to spare.
I was thinking that this practice was going to have no value in terms of assessing play, but then the horn sounded and the offense lined up to do some passing drills. I had moved to the quieter end of the field when the action was at the other end (when there wasn't really any action going on). It ended up being a great vantage point for the passing drills and I was able to watch P-Ram and the receivers again quite closely. It would be repetitive to say much more than Coles and McCants were awesome again. I didn't see either one of them drop a single ball. Jacobs and Russell continued beating the second stringers with their speed and looked very comfortable out there considering their inexperience.
Richmond Flowers is making a real strong bid to make this team early in camp. The only ball he didn't catch today was on a bad throw and he still nearly caught it. He catches EVERYTHING. He has become my new dark horse guy that I'm going to be really pulling for to make this squad. He could take Patrick Johnson's spot if he can show the kind of hands in some game time action as he's showed at practice.
Much to my delight, Rod Gardner also finally had a great practice. It was the first practice that he has been noticeable and he made some great grabs this afternoon. he also made a couple of tough grabs in traffic across the middle.
I think the most important part about the entire session was that it was very easy to gauge how the receivers were playing because darn near every ball was on the money. Ramsey has been awesome. I'd like to not be so gushy about it but I've watched about 10 hours of football with a lot of different (really nice) people. We have all been amazed with P-Ram's accuracy and confidence, and you better catch the ball in front of you or it's going to sting. It's only practice and drills aren't the same as having d-linemen that want to crush you, but consistently throwing the ball well is encouraging nevertheless. The offense was developing a swagger this afternoon because they really put together some nice looking plays.
Practice was finished at about 6:00pm today, a little early to get out of the sweltering heat. I grabbed a few autographs and then I interviewed Jake Russell. Jake is a 15 year old lad that I met at camp that everybody knows. The reason everybody knows Jake? Because he knows all of them. There isn't a Redskin player Jake doesn't know (no matter how new) and I've really enjoyed talking to him and his mother Terry for the few days that we have been at camp. I will post the interview when I get back from camp as time here is short with 6-7 hours of practice to watch and an hour or two doing up reports.
That is it for the afternoon wrap, hopefully tomorrow morning's practice will afford me a better look at the offensive line.
This article was released on 2003-07-29.
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