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.
Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Mark Solway