DailyPress: Redskins 'off and running'

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DailyPress: Redskins 'off and running'

Postby ANT7088 » Sun Aug 01, 2004 11:19 am

In their first training camp practice under Joe Gibbs since 1992, the team wastes little time in going to work before a large and energetic crowd.

Joe Gibbs, Joe Bugel and the rest of the Redskin coaching staff stayed up until 1 a.m. Saturday swapping stories about the old days.

"Everybody was anticipating the first day," Bugel said. "I didn't get a whole lot of sleep."

A few hours later, the "new" days began for the Redskins.

Nearly eight months after he was brought out of an 11-year retirement, Gibbs ran his first full-contact practice as the Redskins opened training camp with a 1-hour, 50-minute workout before a boisterous crowd at the team's facility.

"We're off and running," Gibbs said after the first of two practices.

Emphasis on "off." There were the typical first-day-in-pads mistakes, such as a botched center-quarterback exchange.

"I thought we had really good effort, but it was pretty rough," Gibbs said. "That's why I say you can't tell about a football team until you get into pads and start hitting each other."

Since late March, the Redskins have conducted minicamps, passing camps and organized team activities. Itching to see his charges hit each other, Gibbs didn't waste any time before having the defensive and offensive lines engage in a spirited drill. A 9-on-9 segment concluded the workout.

"We have a short time span. We're playing in a little over a week (Aug. 9 against Denver), so we don't have much time and we won't have many practices," Gibbs said. "It's important that they came in shape and ready to go."

Said Bugel: "Today was a great thing because, when both lines can work together without fights or talking to each other, you can get some work done."

Bugel, who was last with the Redskins in 1989, bounced around the two practice fields and offensive coordinator Don Breaux - who left the Redskins in 1993 - proved to be a less-than-stellar cornerback during a walk-through demonstration. The players fed off that energy and there was very little standing around, a concept embraced by all. And the players received one other little bonus when Gibbs told them there would be very little post-practice running.

"That's better because, psychologically, if you have to run sprints, you're thinking, 'I have to save a little bit for the sprints or they'll kill me,'" linebacker Mike Barrow said. "His big thing is having a quick tempo; go fast, fast, fast."

Another veteran, quarterback Mark Brunell, who is playing for his fourth coach and competing with Patrick Ramsey for the starting job, said Gibbs' practices have an ideal combination of learning and working.

"It's very organized," Brunell said. "There is the mental side where you walk through things and go through that part of the game; and there is the physical, hard-working side, which was the last part of the (morning) practice. It's a good practice structure and guys like it."

Barrow and Brunell are just two of the reasons optimism is high despite a 5-11 record last season. The new players will help, the holdover players will perform better and then there's the Gibbs Factor.

"It does feel different," safety Matt Bowen said. "I think we're more confident, and we're working harder. Everybody has bought into this 100 percent. Coach Gibbs has won, we haven't. And those Super Bowl trophies are in there because of him, and that's what we want."

Said offensive tackle Chris Samuels: "We're sick of losing around here. We want to go to the playoffs and Super Bowl and today was the first step. The fans here have been waiting on something special for awhile, and I know we're ready to give it to them."

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