WP:Redskins Get It Started

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WP:Redskins Get It Started

Postby Deadskins » Sat Jul 31, 2004 5:06 pm

New From The Post
Redskins Get It Started With a 'Rough' Practice

By Mark Schlabach
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 31, 2004; 12:26 PM

Joe Gibbs awoke Saturday morning with a few butterflies in his stomach, a little jump in his step. For the first time in 12 years, Gibbs opened training camp as coach of the Washington Redskins.

"I think I had the same feelings this time as I did the first time I came," said Gibbs, who coached the Redskins for 12 seasons, from 1981 to 1992. "I can't remember '81. I'm too old to remember '81. It's a lot of the same emotions: You're nervous, you're apprehensive."

Gibbs wasn't the only one excited at Redskins Park. A few thousand fans lined up to watch the Redskins during a two-hour practice that ended around 11 a.m. The team practices again at 4:30 p.m. today.

"It was kind of a rough [practice], but I appreciate all the fans being here," Gibbs said. "I don't think any sports franchise can match our fans' intensity and excitement. They were here at 8 a.m., yelling at us from across the street. It's a great place to coach and a great place to play."

The fans saw recognizable faces -- assistants Joe Bugel, Don Breaux, Jack Burns and Rennie Simmons, who helped Gibbs lead the Redskins to four Super Bowls, winning three of them. The coaches put the players through a rigorous workout, which included a lot of contact for an opening practice.

"The one thing we've learned from Coach Gibbs is if you get on the field and work hard, you can get off the field quickly," tight end Walter Rasby said. "We went out there and worked."

The intensity of the practice wasn't the only difference on the first day, running back Ladell Betts said.

"It's a little more organized" than under the previous coaching staff, Betts said. "There's a little more coaching. There are more details."

There also were plenty of new faces -- quarterback Mark Brunell (who looked sharper than incumbent Patrick Ramsey) and running back Clinton Portis, who dazzled the crowd with a nifty move on his first run that left linebacker LaVar Arrington dumbfounded. Other highlights from the practice included linebacker Antonio Pierce's big hit on running back Chad Morton in the backfield, and Portis' 20-yard run around right end during 11-on-11 drills.

"There was a lot of excitement out there," offensive tackle Chris Samuels said. "The coaches demand perfection from us and we're excited about it. The guys are hungry. We're sick of losing around here. We want to get back to the playoffs and win the Super Bowl. Today was the first step in doing that."

The fans didn't see safety Sean Taylor, the team's first-round pick who injured his right knee Wednesday. Gibbs said Taylor's knee was still sore, and he was day-to-day. Four other players -- cornerbacks Rashaud Bauman (unknown) and Walt Harris (knee) and offensive tackles Brandon Winey (left foot) and Kenyatta Jones (unknown) -- also didn't practice.

The much-anticipated quarterback battle between Brunell and Ramsey also got underway. Brunell, Ramsey and third-stringer Tim Hasselbeck got an equal number of snaps during 9-on-9 and 11-on-11 drills. Brunell, a left-hander, drilled a throw past linebacker Kevin Mitchell to complete a pass to Portis. Ramsey, who started 11 games last season, throwing 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions, had his ups and downs on the first day. He fumbled a snap and later forced a pass to tight end Brian Kozlowski, which was intercepted by safety Matt Bowen.

Gibbs said it's too early to read too much into the quarterbacks' performances in practice.

"We're just starting so that will take a long time," Gibbs said. "The most important thing is the [exhibition] games. Everything is important, but it will take some time."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/ar ... Jul31.html
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