Camp Gibbs: Precision Personified

Archive of our daily coverage of the Washington Redskins' 2003-2007 Training Camps.
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Camp Gibbs: Precision Personified

Postby johnjack » Sun Aug 01, 2004 7:57 am

Well, after driving all of the way to Redskins Park with family and friends early yesterday morning, I thought that I would attempt to give a “virtual” feel of what it was like for those who couldn’t make it practice. For all who think that an excessive number of penalties will occur this year as during previous Spurrier seasons, forget it. This coaching staff will not tolerate inattentiveness to detail. Let’s take a look into what a Gibbs camp looks like.

The (a mix between morning and afternoon activities) practice began with players occupying various areas of primarily two of the four fields by position. (Camp Tip: When you arrive at Redskins Park and walk into the practice area, you often wonder which field they will be practicing on? This year, unlike Spurrier years, fans were only allowed in the immediate foreground area. You could not walk to the other side like in previous seasons. Look for the two crane-like camera lifts. The field that they overlook will be where most of the action will take place!) The offensive line under the tutelage of Joe Bugel began by working on footwork drills. The wide receivers tossed footballs between them as warm up. Running backs assembled with Earnest Byner running between cones. The defense was at the far field so I didn’t pay as much attention to them.

The entire team then assembled to go though a series of stretching exercises before the real drills would begin. Immediately following these stretching exercises the special teams coach (I think Danny Smith) leaped into action getting special teams members together. On the near end of the field, punt protection and punt rush personnel assembled. Punters assembled behind them to practice receiving snaps and punting under a rush. In the distant receiving end of the field, punt return specialists assembled to await a soon to come barrage of punts. I finally unlocked one of the purposes of the colored helmet covers that you often see players wearing. Since many of the people playing special teams are an assembly of offensive and defensive players, you have some team members wearing white jerseys, and others wearing burgundy. The helmet covers are an immediate indicator of which team members are on the punting team, and which are on the punt receiving team. Punt after punt, Danny Smith immediately barked for players to get back into their positions for the next repetition. The gunners sprinted down the field after the punt was launched with blockers protecting the punt returner. This drill wasted nothing. Punters got to work on their timing receiving the snap and the actual punt, blockers and rushers got to work on their technique. Gunners got to sprint down the field, and punt returners got to catch and run with the ball. When punters became fatigued, a ball launching machine was used to give the punters a spell. This drill was a model in efficiency.

In the distant diagonal field defensive players went through a series of drills. Didn’t focus as much there, but I did see D-lineman hitting the sled. After the special teams drills concluded, an offense only drill commenced. Backs, lineman and receivers lined up in various formations running through timing and cadence as handoffs were executed. As one set of eleven players completed the drill, the next eleven were stepping right up into their place to replace them while the others returned. With four quarterbacks, this seemed to give each quarterback’s supporting cast an opportunity to hear his cadence, and for each QB & center to work on their exchanges (There is much work to be done here, as there were many bad snaps throughout practice). Running backs warmed up further by receiving handoffs from different quarterbacks, and each quarterback got to work with not only the starters but also the backups.

During the next main field drill, lineman and backs went off to the side to work amongst themselves, quarterbacks and receivers assembled in opposing directions on the field. With four quarterbacks two threw down one sideline in one direction. In the distant part of the field two quarterbacks and another set of receivers were executing passing drills headed back towards the other QB/WR grouping down the other sideline. Pass after pass was thrown, and once the pass was executed, the receiver would join the QB set on the end of the field nearest to their position. No wasted movement. This drill warmed up the QBs and the WRs for the next drill. The O & D-lines simulated the snap of the ball and worked on their trench warfare technique. These battles increased in intensity. No backs or linebackers participated to minimize the number of bodies that were colliding.

Immediately following the QBs and WRs came the skill drills. On offense the QB, RB, and TE s assembled vs linebackers and 1 safety. Again, a series of simulated plays were executed, without big lineman bodies present to minimize the potential of injury. The RBs and TE s were able to able to go through simulated pass protection schemes, reacting to what the linebackers did, or go out for a pass depending on what was called. The linebackers and safety could work on their coordination of coverages and blitz angles.

Following these drills WRs and DBs were added to practice pass routes and motion. DBs and LBs coordinated their coverages. All of this led up to eleven on eleven drills. From what I could see, every drill worked up to those eleven on eleven matchups while at the same time not wasting a moment of time, energy and at the same time minimizing the potential for injury by not having those players not actively involved in harms way.

Finally, a few other things immediately struck me as different from Camp Spurrier. Referees were present for both the morning and afternoon sessions. They threw flags when they saw infractions so that players could get immediate input on what might be called. A play clock was running during timed drills in the distant field. An emphasis on timing was reinforced in the player’s minds since the clock could be seen in the distance and coaches were ever-present barking at them for the next repetition. Finally, the effort level as others have written seemed to be more intense than in year’s prior. If it is true that you play like you practice, then there is cause for optimism in burgundy and gold land! I can say with certainty that the players will not be able to say that they were not adequately prepared for the teams that they will face by this coaching staff.

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