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|Saturday Aug. 02
Just back from Saturday morning's kickoff to Fan Apreciation Day, and Redskin Park is an absolute zoo today. There are probably 10 times the people here today than have been at any other practice. their is a scrimmage today at 4:00pm, so the morning session was once again, a no-pads affair.
After the warm-up, practice started with some hail mary tip drills. To be honest, it wasn't very inspiring. Patrick threw one or two decently, but most of them lacked the timing to be effective in a game situation. Rob Johnson was no better and Coach Spurrier looked pretty disappointed with the overall results. I couldn't hear anything specific that SOS said, but he was shaking his head a lot.
Special Teams dominated the next 20-30 minutes with both punt and kick drills. Brent Bartholomew continues to impress and CONSISTENTLY kicks the ball higher and slightly farther than Bryan Barker. We had a stopwatch on the hang time today and though very unofficial, Bartholomew was generally about a half second better on the hang time. He also boomed what had to be closeto a 60 yarder today. Barker's punts also flutter a lot more in the air wheras Bartholomew's are nice tight spirals that come down like bullets.
Also worthy of note about the punt drills was that there was not a single drop by the receiving team. Chad Morton, Sean Dillard, Scott Cloman and ROD GARDNER all returned kicks.
Next, John Hall lined up for a few FG's. Unfortunately, he only kicked one chip shot field goal before they started practicing fake field goals with a direct snap to Hall who would then squib it into the corner. He had two roll inside the 8, with the best stopping at the 3. The coaching staff was also working on defending the FG, so they had Hall pooch a few misses as well for the defense to run out.
The most interesting part about the FG drills was that Bartholomew was the holder today instead of Barker. I may be mistaken, but I'm pretty sure that it's the first time that that's happened. I think the coaching staff must be seeing what I'm seeing which is that Barker may very well be out of a job if Bartholomew can stay consistent.
Then Hall practiced some more on-side kicks. Wow! He definitely has the on-side kick down pat. I would say he made 10 kicks and 7 of them were perfect with the second bounce going high into the air for the guys to go after. He had considerably more good ones than bad ones. I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by some knowledgeable fans today and we were all amazed at Hall's proficiency. I'd sure like to see us kick off the Jets game with an on-side kick to start the season.
Most of the rest of the practice was 11 on 11 drills with both the first and second stringers getting quite a few reps. They even ran the two minute drill with each unit.
Patrick Ramsey was ON this morning other than the aforementioned tip drill. He continues to fire the ball to receivers on a rope and even had a nice rollout that he scurried into the end zone on. The team practiced on the far field again today so I had a great view of some plays. P-Ram also knows this offense a lot better as well as on one particular TD pass, I watched Patrick look off two receivers before hitting the third option (Chad Morton) coming out of the backfield.
Scott Cloman continues to catch everything thrown at him as does Richmond Flowers. These two are going to be very difficult cuts to make, which is great. Tough cuts mean tough decisions, which is indicative of the quality we can expect from our receiving corps. Patrick Johnson had another good practice and Gardner just continues to get better and better each day.
The only bad drop of the morning was by Trung Canidate coming out of the backfield. To be fair to Trung, with it being a no-pads practice... the RB's did almost nothing today. In fact, the RB's haven't been getting many reps in 11 on 11's at all. Kenny Watson was back in action today.
I'm also happy to report that Rob Johnson was a little better today. He had a couple of good passes and it seemed to boost his confidence a little.
Johnson still looks ugly though between Ramsey and rookie Gibran Hamdan. Hamdan didn't see many reps today but when he did, he took full advantage and marched the offense straight down the field for a touchdown.
I've been tryng to notice some 'not-so-obvious' things while I've been watching as opposed to just who's catching, throwing or dropping. Today I caught a couple of items of note. Randy Thomas lined up beside Jon Jansen again today with Dave Fiore playing left guard beside Samuels. I'm not positive that it was every time, but it was certainly with frequency. Also of interest... for a lot of the 11 on 11, the defense lined up Regan Upshaw and Bruce Smith at end with RENALDO WYNN and PEPPI ZELLNER at DT. I didn't see Brandon Noble at all in the 11 on 11 (he was on the field though) so he may have just been nicked and sitting it out. I was happy to see Wynn move inside because IMO, he's our best option at the moment.
If any of you are trying to figure out depth at offensive line (like I was), the second string unit today consisted of Brad Bedell, Derrick Dockery, Wilbert Brown, Lennie Friedman (or Feldman as I've heard Fox call him twice now), and Pita Elisara.
I'm heading back to the mayhem now for the afternoon festivities.
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|Friday Aug. 01
I just want to say soething before I post the summary of this morning's practice... I have had a little more time to folow the local news around here (all sources) and I have to tell you... I don't know what training camp they're watching, but it isn't the Redskins. Nearly everything I reads is COMPLETELY wrong. I just don't understand it. When Ramsey looks good, they don't say anything. When he looks bad (like today) they say he looks good. One source listed the runnung backs and seemingly in order, with Chad Morton last on the list and saying he isn't getting many reps. Maybe they don't know his number, because I assure you, he's had as many or more touches than any of the other backs. Anyway... on with the report.
Practice was busy again today despite the badweather. Today is actually the first day that we have been rained on during the practice. I arrived early today (8:00am) to try and catch a few players as they came on to the field. I quickly found my new buddy Jake sitting onthe walkway out to the field and he informed me that today was Darnerian McCants birthday. So when Darnerian came out and tried to sneak down the back way, he had to come over when he heard us singing. FOX TV cme over and made us sing it again, but I just caught their 12:00 news and it wasn't on... so maybe at 6pm. Unfortunately for his birthday, Darnerian got an injury. He did not fnish practice but I did not see what happened.
I also met up with RedskinsFreak and we watched practice together. Thanks Steve, I enjoyed meeting the man behind the e-mails
Practice was unimpressive yet again today. After stretching and a few short non-contact drills, the team broke into some 7-0 drills. The offense ran quite a few plays and just were not in synch. There were a few highlights, like Cliff Russell making an acrobatic catch out of bounds, but for the most part, Ramsey just wasn't as sharp today. I don't know if it was his grip on the ball because of all the rain, but he was not spectacular.
Then they ran some 11 on 11. Kenny Watson busted a big run and continues to work hard every practice. There are a lot of people here that are under the impression that he's on the block and might be he odd man out with Ladell Betts, Chad Morton and Trung Canidate here too. But it won't be for a lack of trying. Everyone who tells me that kenny 'might get cut' follows it up with 'But I hope not'.
Matt Bowen struck again. He destroyed Patrick Johnson who appeared to be slightly shaken up on the play. While I'm sure that the media will find the bad in it, I've been watching Bowen almost exclusively when I'm watching the defense, and there was absolutely no intent. It looked to me like an accidental collision, but Bowen is a rock and definitely got the better of Patrick. Bowen just stood there while PJ tried to remember if he had picked up milk this morning. Lavar Arrington was jacked about it though, and whether the coaches liked it or not, #41 is endearing himself to both the fans and to the other members of the defense. When it's Tiki Barber getting scraped up from a Bowen smack... I'm sure all will be forgiven.
Ramsey through a badly thrown interception during this session, and their just wasn't a lot of fluidity once again. Even Laveranues Coles missed a ball today and I don't remember seeing him miss a ball that he should have caught yet in camp. Rob Johnson has tendinitis in his elbow? Good... because he needs some sort of excuse for why he is throwing so inconsistently. Gibran Hamdan did not get many reps today presumably because Johnson was held out of yesterday's practice and Hamdan got a lot of reps.
After some 11 on 11, they broke into some special teams drills. Bryan Barker and Bart Bartolomew took turns punting to Morton, Sean Dillard and Scott Cloman. Bartholomew is really pushing for a roster spot. He punted higher and longer than Barker once again today. All 3 return men looked good catching the ball with not a single bobble between them in 10+ kicks. Cloman was EXTREMELY noticeable today. He made 3 great catches including a hail mary type pass that he got up over everybody and pulled it down. Richmond Flowers was also back to his usual 'I don't drop passes' self with another good practice registered. This guy works hard and will take the place of someone like a Justin Skaggs that struggles to make the squad but that everybody loves.
The team then went back to 11 on 11 drills again but this time they moved the chains with the plays as opposed to just running the m continuously from the same line of scrimmage. Again Ramsey was a little off throwing two interceptions trying to force passes in. One of the INT's was a nice pick by Champ stepping in front of a would be completion and running back the ball for a TD. Perhaps the most incredible part of this play though was that Bailey was running right in front of me and I couldn't help but notice Chris Samuels in a dead sprint to try and catch Bailey. That's right... Samuels. To be honest with you, it actually looked like he might! Awesome... just awesome. He is an incredible specimen, in fact the whole line is.
He also had some great passes that he is really te only QB on the roster that would have had a hope of making the pass. I stress here... he was only off slightly and that's to be expected every now and agin with it being the first week of camp. His performance didn't hurt his attitude any though, as once again he stayed out on the field the longest signing autographs.
My last observation about practice is that despite being sloppy, it was tenacious. Things got pretty heated on one particular play and afight broke out. Unfortunately, the huge huddle around the combatants made it impossible to tell who they were, but it was more than just a shoving match. Lavar actually was the first one into the huddle to break it all up (from the sideline, he didn't practice today). It's nice to see some fire in their bellies in my opinion.
That's a wrap for this morning... I've only got a couple left before I head back to Canada... that is unless someone has a guest house and a private jet that I can fly back in at the end of camp.
It's Friday afternoon and today may be the last real practice that I get to see with tomorrow being Fan Appreciation Day. There is a practice tomorrow morning at 9:00am too, but with festivities kicking off at 12:30, I'm not sure how hard they will practice.
It was another hot, humid afternoon here in Ashburn. As has been the case all week, that meant a no-pads practice. There were a lot of guys that were sat out of today's practce... 14 in total I believe. Some of the guys that sat were established guys that are rehabbing injuries like Jeremiah Trotter. Lavar Arrington sat out again this afternoon due to his slight concussion and Bruce Smith continued his regimen of only one practice per day. Other notable MIA's were Rock Cartwright (concussion) and Darnerian McCants who hurt himself this morning. Darnerian was a little down this afternoon, but he did tell us that it was his right hamstring and he was hoping to be back practicing on Monday.
Unfortunately, my view of practice today was somewhat limited for the first half hour. One of the staff at Redskin Park gave me a tip that most of practice would be on the opposite field today due to the condition of the one that is the closest to the fans. The 'far' field was not accessible this morning so it was looking like nobody would get to see much of anything. Luckily, the same guy that tipped me stood beside me when he was talking on his walkie talkie with the brass about whether or not they would allow the fans access to the other side. They decided that they would and being that I was the first one to know, I was the first one over there... I guess I'm getting to be an old training camp vet now While we're on the topic of staff, there are numerous staff at Redskin Park that have been extremely nice and they even recognize Shelagh and I, when we get to the gate now. I just wanted to formally thank them in case they're on the board because they are just some of the really great Redskin fans that we have met while we have been here.
So while I may not have had a very good view of the first half hour of practice, I was front row center for most of the remainder. What I did see in the first half hour was the secondary, so I did get to watch Matt Bowen again in drills. Full-speed motor... excellent speed... I feel like I'm repeating myself, but if you're at Redskin Park and not noticing #41, you're not watching very closely. Fred Smoot was another of the non-practicing players so I spent most of the time watching Champ and Matt. You can't tell much during these drills, but what is apparent is how good someone like Champ really is. They always say that a cornerback is a wide receiver that can't catch. Not Champ. He caught EVERY single ball thrown at him in practice and has all week. I'm not sure I'm too fond of the 'I need to get paid' attitude that he has recently developed, but he is a rare commodity and underpaid, so I guess it's somewhat acceptable.
They also did some kickoff drills and wow, can John Hall ever kick the ball. He was kicking it to the 10 yard line without even taking a run-up (which is his regular style). He was just taking pot shots and was still kicking the ball as far as any kicker we've had in Washington for quite some time.
After 30-40 minutes, the offense joined the defense on the field in front of me for some passing drills. Wow, what a difference from this morning. Patrick Ramsey was back to the form that he has displayed during most of camp... stellar. He just throws the ball so darn hard. He was making excellent reads and had great passes in every variety... short, medium, long, in to coverage, whatever he had to do to as I heard Spurrier say, 'stick that ball in there.' On one particular play, Ramsey audibled out of the called play and barked 'BLUE 60 WHEELIE, BLUE 60 WHEELIE.' I didn't have a clue what the play was, but after watching P-Ram drop back and float a beautiful touch pass in to the end zone for a TD... I want to see a lot of Blue 60 Wheelies in the regular season.
The receivers looked good too, with Patrick Johnson, Laveranues Coles and Patrick Woodcock all pulling in passes for big gains. Rod Gardner also made several tough catches in traffic and had another good practice. Richmond Flowers continues to impress me as well and made several good catches and didn't drop a ball.
Trung Canidate and Chad Morton both looked good catching the ball coming out of the backfield. I couldn't help but notice Trung really wrapping up the ball with both hands when he got into traffic. I don't know if this is the result of his previously published fumble issues or if he just practices good habits. Morton is just so explosive and has incredible lateral movement. The guy behind me joked that Chad could deke out his own shadow. On one particular play, he took a shovel pass coming out of the backfield and showed me that not getting this guy in to games as a third down back (at least) would just be a complete waste of talent. Luckily OC Hue Jackson was Morton's OC at USC and is very aware of Chad's abilities.
The second stringers seemed to get a lot of reps this afternoon. While Rob Johnson had a nice 35 yard TD pass to Coles, he continued to struggle. He had 3 interceptions in 4 passes at one point and just does not look very comfortable. It's early days yet, but if his play doesn't improve I would be surprised if the Redskins don't try and look for an alternative.
Gibran Hamdan gives every indication that he has the size and arm to play in this league, but he is going to take some time. He didn't get much playing time at Indiana behind Antwoin Randle El, but he's a local boy from Maryland and is very comfortable in his 'developmental' role. He has a cannon for an arm and putting Johnson's throws in between Ramsey's and Hamdan's is very unflattering to Johnson.
Leonard Stephens is playing well at TE. With Robert Royal having so much promise and being so big, I hope Stephens is not the odd man out if the Redskins sign another tight end (a la Walls).
Zeron Flemister did catch a nice pass for a long gain today but he has been unremarkable in what I've been able to see.
That's all I have for practic notes... but I have to say something more about Ramsey. He was last one signing autographs yet again today. The guy is just a saint with the kids. I had my picture taken with him today (as did many people) and you just couldn't ask for a star player to be more gracious with his time. Other players that have been great with the fans include McCants, Coles, Noble, Flowers, and Hamdan... they have been out long after practice signing autographs nearly every day this week.
That's a wrap for Friday folks.
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|Thursday, July 31
It was a little overcast this morning, so I figured with only one practice today that we'd be treated to a good one. I was wrong. Today was definitely the dullest practice this week and we were sloppy to boot. There were even referees there today, so we hought we were going to be treated to a scrimmage.
When I arrived at 8:45 there were already a lot of guys on the field doing some special teams practice.Chad Morton was very vocal and definitely seemed to have already gained loads of confidence. The guy is very likeable. He was the first one on the field (I was told) and he was the last one off the field. He and Matt Bowen have the kind of work ethic out there that you love to see.
After 10-15 minutes of stretcing the team split into offensive and defensive units. I stuck with the o-line again today, but once again, there was little to gauge anything on. The offense just lined up in formation and practiced some different sets. The only observation of note that I have for you is that Chris Samuels and Jon Jansen were instructing all the other players when they weren't in their three-point stances. I love to see that kind of leadership and awareness.
About half an hour into practice, the offense and defense got back together for some 11 on 11. On the very first play, Lavar proved that obviously yesterday's injury was nothing serious... he blasted at Zeron Flemister and drove him all the way back to Ramsey. Ramsey just stood in there and fired a bomb down the right sideline into the waiting arms of Laveranues Coles.
On the next play, only a great read by Bowen prevented Ramsey from making another good completion. Matt also ran down Kenny Watson from behind again today. You're going to love this guy... when's the last time we had a good safety? He's fast, he's cerebral, and more importanly, he's got that eye of the tiger that you love to see in the secondary. When Bowen was at Iowa, he wrote in the Daily Iowan that, 'Every time you lose, a piece of you dies. And you can never get it back.' Impressively... he practices the exact same way.
The offense and Ramsey actually didn't have a great day. There were some sloppy plays and the unit just wasn't that sharp. It could also have had something to do with the play of the defense. Andre Lott had his best practice of camp. He stripped the ball from a receiver on one play and pulled in a tip for an interception on another. I guess Ifyani Ohalete must have felt some pressure because he stepped up and really smacked Robert Royal for the best hit of the day.
Other notables from the 11 on 11's...
Patrick Johnson got quite a few reps today and made some good catches. There were a lot of guys sitting out today, so perhaps it had something to do with that. Word was, that anyone rehabbing an injury was given the day off, so Cliff Russell's reps may have gone to Johnson.
Rob Johnson didn't throw the ball at all today. He did run in the sprints though, so I'll try to figure out why he wasn't throwing by tomorrow. Johnson's absence meant more reps for both Gibran Hamdan and Brad Banks, but neither of them took advantage of it. like i said the offense just looked out of synch today.
Derrick Dockery had a little shoving match with someone today, but i couldn't really see who it was.
Sean Dillard has great hands and good speed. He won't crack this receiving corps, but I watched him field punts and kickoffs brilliantly, so he may catch on with somebody.
Taylor Jacobs was good again today. He runs great routes, you can really appreciate the crispness of a Fun 'N Gun route when you watch him. Russell has been very impressive, but Jacobs familiarity with the system will definitely lead him to some substantial playing time in his rookie season. He was also initiated today.
At the end of practice, Brian (redskinfan) noticed that Jon Jansen had taken Jacobs out of the post practice stretch down. They were walking down the field, Jansen's arm around Taylor's shoulder. At this point, I looked at Brian and I said that that could mean only one thing... a hazing. So we ran down to the end they were heading too and we started yellling "Tape him up Jon." Everybody around us thought that we were nuts, but sure enough, they got to the goalposts and Jon taped him there. Then they poured gatorade and water all over him. It was great... we were definitely the first ones to figure out what was going on. Unfortunately, he was only there for a couple of minutes... not like Fred Smoot or Patrick Ramsey's more lengthy stay. Ramsey was actually the one who cut him down.
Derrick Dockery also carried Randy Thomas' equipment to the dressing room for him.
That's about it, like I sad, it was a fairly dull practice.
I want to set up a meeting place for tokmorrow since a few of you have been looking for me and not found me. I am going to stand at the picnec benches in front of the tents tomorrow AM between 9:00 and 9:10 while the team is stretching. Look for the visor and join us for a practice!
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|Wednesday, July 30th
A gorgeous morning here in Ashburn today, definitely a little cooler and less humid. The players came out in full gear, so I knew that we were in for a good practice. Obviously the fans loved the weather, as the AM session today was by far the most heavily attended practice yet.
I wanted to concentrate on the offensive line this morning, but they moved to the opposite end of the field and I couldn't really watch much. I decided to watch the defensive line some instead.
I don't know if injuries prevented Renaldo Wynn from performing to his standards last year, but he looks really good this year. He was very fluid in the drills and was also helping some of the rookie ends with their technique. The line spent about half an hour doing drills that somehow involved engaging one or two guys and then releasing. It was all at half speed, but you could see that veterans like Wynn, and Upshaw really have a lot better skills than some of the young guys. Delbert Cowsette looked good though. He's wearing number 99 this year.
The blackflies were brutal on the defense's side of the field today, so if you come to practice and want to get a really good view of the defense, MAKE SURE YOU BRING SOME BUG SPRAY... and bring me some too.
I was getting eaten alive, and the action was limited so I moved back to the other field just in time to see tome special teams drills. They went through quite a few ST drills with Mike Stock out there instructing and yelling. They did some drills that involved just practicing their runups on the kickoff and then they put up some pads in the middle of the field and had the players running through them full tilt. Pretty uneventful, but good to see the team spending some time on ST, we need the practice.
For the last 1/2 hour or more of the practice, the fans were treated to a full contact, full speed set of passing and running drills. Once again, the offense looked very fluid when Ramsey was at the helm. He wasn't quite as impressive as yesterday, but he still made some great passes. Rod Gardner and Laveranues Coles were the most noticeable receivers and I actually saw Richmond Flowers drop a pass today. I honestly think it's the first one that I've seen him drop.
Rob Johnson continues to be less than impressive and yes folks, he's still sitting in the pocket too long and shuffling his feet too much. He did make some nice passes, but the pocket also collapsed around him several times. They have been rotating the quarterbacks through constantly so that they're both working with both starters and back-ups, so it isn't that he's not getting the same protection. He looks like he's still learning the offense which I guess is to be expected.
Gibran Hamdan continues to impress everyone here with his raw physical possibilities. At 6'4", he towers over guys out there and he throws the ball better than Johnson does. He has great mechanics and I'm sure Spurrier is seeing a lot of upside to him. A lot of people have asked me why we picked Hamdan over Brad Banks, but watching the two of them at practice, it's quite easy to tell. Banks is hardly getting any reps at all.
It was a very vocal afternoon with lots of cheering and jeering in the stands. By far the biggest reaction came when Matt Bowen rocked Trung Canidate. Canidate had busted a run and was running up the sideline. He lowered his head to take on Bowen and got just smoked. Both were fine, but the crowd went nuts. Bowen has really impressed me with his speed already, so to see him make that kind of hit was just gravy. I think that we have found a real diamond in the rough here, though only game action will reveal how he'll fit in as a starter.
Kevin Mitchell didn't practice today, but I did get a chance to ask him if it was just cramps yesterday and he said that it was and that he was just going to take it easy for a day or two. Ladell Betts also did not practice and had his elbow pretty heavily bandaged. Bruce Smith also appears that he will only be practicing once a day.
I continue to meet loads of great people at practice and I really enjoy just talking Redskins with whoever is standing beside you. Just wanted to put a shout out to Brian who I've watched nearly every practice with. We're having a grand old time yelling at players like we know what we're doing and telling everyone around us who all the players are.
That's a wrap for this morning, hopefully I can get a good look at the offensive line this afternoon but it's getting pretty hot, so they may practice without pads again this afternoon.
Ken Harvey was at practice this morning but I didn't get a chance to talk to him. Hopefully I'll get a chance to see him this afternoon and bring you guys the insight of a true pro.
Well it's another beautiful afternoon in Ashburn, and that can mean only one thing... a no-pads practice.
The first half hour of practice this afternoon was actually pretty dull. My new chum Brian (redskinfan on this board) and I were remarking that it was the first time that we had to walk around and try to find something to do or watch. The offense and defense all split into their respective units, but the sessions were more instructing than practicing. I watched the offensive line but there really wasn't much to notice except that Dockery is still REALLY big. He signed an autograph today and I was sure I'd get a kink in my neck from looking up. He's an absolute house. The only comments I have are that coach Helton seemed pleased with their performance and that Samuels, Jansen, Moore, Thomas and Fiore are an absolute buffet nightmare.
Before I go on about practice, I want to add that Brandon Noble is becoming a personal favorite of mine. The guy is just grizzly looking and what a football player should look like with his big beard. he belongs on the offensive line with the Hogs. He walked past me on the way out to practice and I was trying to be witty, so I asked him if he had a good lunch. He just smiled, rubbed his belly and said "He sure did." After practice he was down on the field with a very young boy who may have been his son, and it was just a great juxtaposition of size. I have enclosed the pic on the photos page. The guy is awesome, I hope he has a good year.
Back to practice, after the 'instruction' sessions, the team lined up for some kickoffs. I went and stood at the end being kicked to, so that I could see how far John Hall was kicking it. He kicked to the 1, 8, and 3 yard lines with 3 of his kicks. Another one of them was either a squib kick or a total duff, we couldn't tell. Then they practiced some on-side kicks and it was apparent that Hall was very adept. Two kicks, and both were very effective. The first one bounced about 20 feet in the air on the second bounce and was about as perfect an on-side kick as you can have.
Then the practice livened up a little with some passing drills. Patrick Johnson got a few more reps today, or a few more looks from the QB anyway. He was definitely better. Rob johnson on the other hand was the same.... unimpressive. We have also been hearing that Spurrier is trying to change Johnson's mechanics and that Johnson isn't comfortable at all yet, so that may have something to do with some of his bad passes. We started counting his double clutches today and we counted at least four, he's also shuffling his feet and throwing off his back foot a lot. It's a stark contrast to Ramsey...
... who looks just awesome. Everyone oohs and aahs as he zips in pass after pass. He wasn't as accurate today as he was yesterday, but he shows another very endearing quality when he's not perfect... his passion. He gets mad at himself when he's even a fraction of an inch off and he gets pumped when he is not. He shows a very Favre-ish love for the game and that can only be a good thing. He was great to the kids with autographs again today, the guy really is infectious.
The last 15-20 minutes of practice were full offense vs defense and at full speed. There were a lot of great plays from the offense including Chad Morton making some great plays both running and receiving. This guy is explosive. he just gets lost in the line and then squirts out the other side on his runs and he ran two really tight routes that he capped off with sure catches and quck bursts down the sideline.
While I was watching Morton break one of his runs, I noticed Rasha Bauman on the sideline with ice on his shoulder. He didn't look too uncomfortable but obviously he wasn't practicing. That was about the time that we noticed that the secondary was also without Fred Smoot but we later found out that he had just had a tough time with the heat at the morning practice. He's fine.
At one point there was even a scuffle when Jon Jansen and Mike Cecere got into a little shoving match. It was short-lived but it was nice to see that kind of spirit in a non-pads practice.
On the defensive side, Bruce Smith was a lot more noticeable today with some good pressures and a batted ball. he's taking it easy, but he looks in great shape and more importantly, he looks happy out there. It's a far cry from the treatment he received from Marty Schottenheimer.
Champ Bailey is still Champ Bailey, he had some great pass defenses. I watched an interview with him last night and he looked bitter about not having had his contract re-done yet, but apparently today talks were picked up with the new money gained by dumping Big Daddy.
Matt Bowen continues to impress me with his speed and determination. He nearly tracked down Kenny Watson from behind today when everyone would have given up without a thought. That kind of work ethic will have him in great shape for the season and we're going to be 1/2 way there at safety. Unfortunately, I'm not sold on the other half. Interestingly, the first defense has consisted of a safety tandem of Bowens and Terrell while I have been here, not the Bowen and Ohalete combo that I as expecting.
The only real piece of bad news came at the end of the practice when someone rolled up on Lavar Arrington's ankle. He was down on the ground for a while and walked off the field very gingerly, but it was on his own. hopefully it won't be serious but I would suspect that he is going to miss some practice time.
On the injury front, Kevin Mitchell was back this afternoon, and Tre was still on the bike and not practicing. Apparently he hurt his achilles slightly in the first practice, but he's been riding the bike hard and I don't think it's very serious.
That's a wrap for this afternoon. Tomorrow morning should be a good practice with only a morning session scheduled.
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|Tuesday July 29th
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.
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|Monday July 28th
First practice of training camp and my first observation is, it is HOT in Ashburn today. Overcast skies and muggy conditions made for a very sticky morning practice.
The offense and the defense split up almost immediately and went to separate fields. I went to the defense field because it was less crowded and a little more sheltered from the heat. The linebackers, defensive linemen and cornerbacks all worked out as separate units.
The cornerbacks did a lot of footwork drills. Fred Smoot was very vocal and is definitely the jester out there. He and Champ both looked head and shoulders above everyone else in the agility drills. I watched newcomer Matt Bowen for a while, and he has really good speed for a safety. He looked confident out there too, not like some of the rookie newcomers who really looked quite lost at times this morning.
I had to leave the cornerbacks because the linebackers moved to a blocking sled, and i could hear Lavar yell "I love the sled." The linebackers all lined up and I figured they were just going to be running at the sled, engaging it, and then coming off of it. Instead, Coach Edwards had them get on their knees in front of the sled and just drive through it with their shoulders... two pops each. Lavar went first. He blew the sled right up, even from his knees. I just figured that maybe it wasn't that difficult because L.A made it look so easy... but many of the linebackers struggled. None of them blasted the sled as hard as Lavar did although Jeremiah Trotter was close.
One of the coaching staff told the linebackers that it was time for a water break at which point Lavar screamed, "We don't need no water!!!" Obviously they did take the water, but lavar was very vocal all through the drills and is obviously this unit's leader.
Trotter was impressive too, and he is huge! The next LB drill was a hit the sled and come off of it on the side that you attacked from. I lined up on the side that L.A and Trotter were on so that I could take some pictures as they came off the sled. Just a note to the fans here, I was standing about 6-8 FEET behind the blocking sled taking pictures. It really is a quaint atmosphere. So quaint in fact that one of the times that Trotter hit the sled and came off running, he nearly ran right over top of me. I was taking one for the team if it happened and as such I got a great picture with Trotter right in my face. He would have launched me, but the shot was worth it .
I really had trouble moving away from the linebackers, but I wanted to try and get a look at the whole defense, so I moved to the linemen. Big Daddy Wilkinson and Bruce Smith were in street clothes and not practicing. Regan Upshaw however, did practice. I didn't get to see much of the DL before they moved to some offense vs. defense plays, but my main observation was that Brandon Noble looked like a great, big grizzly bear and Renaldo Wynn just looked smooth.
For the last half hour of practice, the offense and defense lined up and ran some full speed passing drills. While some of these plays displayed the obvious timing problems that you expect to see, there were some really solid performances.
Patrick Ramsey had a few 'off' throws but he also had a few brilliant passes. On one particular play, he hit rookie Taylor Jacobs in full stride with about a 35 yard strike. Jacobs also dropped a couple of balls, but in fairness to him, one ball was slightly overthrown. The other 'drop' actually went right through his hands and was intercepted by Matt Bowen. That seemd to fire up the defense because very soon after, Lemar Marshall hammered a receiver (sorry I didn't get the number). Until that point the drill had been very low contact, so I was expecting some trouble from the coaching staff, but the only scream that came was from Lavar jacking up Marshall over the big pop.
Rob Johnson looked pretty good too. In fact, Johnson threw one of the best passes of the session on a rollout that he threw over Champ to a streaking Rod Gardner.
Practice was called at about 11:15-11:30 and the players gathered at mid-field for a few minutes before filtering their way up to the dressing rooms. it was obvious that the players were hot and tired. It was a tough practice. At one point one of the coaches could be heard yelling at a player to put his helmet back on. The coach (I never did see who it was) yelled, "You'll be tired when I say you're tired. Now put that helmet back on." it was that kind of no-nonsense, all business type practice.
A few of the players stopped to sign autographs on their way off the field, but you could just see that some of them needed to get out of the heat. Both Ramsey and Bailey were extremely gracious with their time. Arrington didn't get to spend a lot of time with the fans, but he did spend a good 15 minutes fielding questions from the media.
That's a wrap for this morning. I will try to post some of the great pictures I got later today. I'm heading back to Redskin Park a little early to see if I can snag a player or two for an interview as they come in.
Look for the 4:00 pm practice summary around 8-9pm tonight. I hope you enjoyed our coverage of the first practice.
The second practice of the day was considerably cooler thanks to some heavy rain between practices. In fact, I actually thought that practice might be cancelled.
I arrived a little early to try and get a chance to talk to a few players but with very little success. (Little difficult without press passes) I did manage to ask Chad Morton if he was excited about getting a chance to play running back this year and his eyes lit up as he signed an autograph for me. He told me that he sure was. I sure hope he gets a shot. He was very acomodating to the kids that were around me signing autographs before practice started. he was oe of the first ones on the field for the afternoon practice.
Practice started with some exercising before the team split into offensive and defensive units.
I went to the opposite side as everyone again. It really is a lot closer action watching the defense. Note to people planning to attend camp... bring lots of bug spray, the black flies are plentiful.
I went straight to the defensive line since I had not seen them much this morning and Bruce Smith also dressed this afternoon. The defensive tackles were on the sled first. Jermaine Haley is a big guy. There wasn't much of note except that Noble and Haley were definitely the best two. Big Daddy didn't practice but I did see him leave in his nice white Hummer as I was walking to my car.
When the defensive ends came over, I noticed that Upshaw was not in pads. I had heard that he wasn't going to be practicing at all (but he did this morning) so I don't think that he hurt himself as much as he was just taking it easy. Smith and Wynn looked very good and their excellent technique is apparent when you see the ease with which they drive the sled. Wynn really impressed me today in the drills.
It started to rain and the defensive linemen moved to the opposite side of the field, so I decided that I would go over to the other field and watch the special teams practice. Am I ever glad that I did.
Bart Bartholomew was really hoofing his punts... and consistently. He was 10 yards longer than Bryan Barker on almost all of his punts (they alternated) and he was getting great hang time too. I was talking with a guy I met and we were both amazed at how well he was kicking the ball (several 50 yard punts).
Morton was very impressive. Not only did he field every punt, he never once bobbled the ball. Sean Dillard, the rookie from Temple, also made a few really good catches on Barker punts that he had to go a long way for.
The horn went and the defense and offense moved to the same field to do some passing drills. Wow, what a difference a half a day can make. The offense looked great, more importantly Patrick Ramsey was brilliant. Time after time, he fired the ball exactly where it should be. It was full speed with the defense and he was making his reads QUICKLY and pressure was never an issue... he just stepped up and fired it to the receiver.
There were a few players of note other than Ramsey. Laveranues Coles looked really good beating Champ once and beating Smoot badly another time. Cliff Russell may have been the receiver that impressed me the most. This guy is really fast... I mean really fast. He ran past the coverage three or four times like they were standing still. Taylor Jacobs also had a good practice, and also has great speed. I left practice today pretty excited about the possibilities for the receiving corps this year.
Other things of note about the passing drills...
Sultan McCullough made a great one handed diving catch running down the sideline.
Matt Bowen showed amazing speed and technique running down Jacobs from seemingly a long way back and by taking a great angle. It would have been really easy for Bowen to give up on the play but he hustled Jacobs down.
Darneian McCants and Ramsey also had a nice pass catch combo on about a 45 yard bomb.
Gibran Hamdan throws a really nice ball. (More on him in another thread)
Chris Samuels and Randy Thomas looked awesome beside each other. Noone seemd to be able to get near Ramsey during the drills. I don't know if that's a sign of a pass rush problem, an offensive line dream, or both. I'll keep my eye out throughout the week.
Morton had a couple of great plays including a play that he made an amazing spin move in the backfield and then sprinted away from everyone.
Practice was called short due to rain.
After the practice, Ramsey was once again very gracious with his time with the fans, as was Coles and Bryan Johnson. I talked to Johnson for a few minutes and told him that I'd love to interview him for the site. He seemed like a really down-to-earth good guy. Coles also came and signed an autograph for me when he had obviously had to go (to catch the team bus). Derick Dockery also came over for me and I was suddenly aware of what a small human being I was at the side of him. Wow.
I've met some really great people so far at camp,so if you see a long hair walking around with a theHogs.net visor on it... please, come up and say hello and let's watch a little football together.
That's it for the afternoon practice coverage. I have sorted out my online situation a bit, so I hope to start bringingthem to you a little sooner after practice. I'm also trying to be as thorough as I can and not being brief for the sake of posting as soon as possible.
I interviewed Hamdan's brother today too, so I'll post that later. I'm going to get a few pics ready for all you guys first.
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