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Redskins Linemen Make The Gossip Blogs, Sort Of

Posted by Matt Terl on March 31, 2009 – 2:22 pm

So defensive linemen Chris Wilson and Lorenzo Alexander went out to the Wizards/Pistons game on Saturday night, got some solid courtside seats to watch Gilbert Arenas make his triumphant return. (Can a player make a triumphant return if his team doesn’t precisely triumph in his comeback game? Anyhow….)

Wilson and Alexander are nice guys and solid role players with the Redskins, but they’re not exactly the typical candidates for the gossip sites. Still, there they were, plastered all over venerable celebrity-watching site Bossip.com the next day.

That’s Chris Wilson underneath the yellow arrow there.

Now, it’s possible, based on the framing and composition of that picture, that maybe — just MAYBE — Bossip was actually more interested in actor/dancer/renaissance man/producer Columbus Short. Which is fair enough, because Wilson felt similarly himself.

Were you star-struck by this coincidence of seating?

Wilson: “I was a little … not star-struck, really, but I was just like, ‘Man, that’s Columbus Short! I was just talking about him being one of my favorite actors.'”

Read more »

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Tuesday, March 31: A Last Bit From Friday's Red Zone

Posted by Matt Terl on March 31, 2009 – 12:19 pm

Let me return for just one more post to Vinny Cerrato’s radio appearance with Rick “Doc” Walker last Friday, and a topic that I didn’t address in my earlier transcriptions: special teams.

Special teams is, for the moment, where most of the position battles are shaping up. Long snapper Ethan Albright is facing competition, as is kicker Shaun Suisham. The punter position is essentially wide open. And there are even a few possibilities for some change at returner.

So it’s interesting to hear what the Executive Vice President/Football Operations has to say on those subjects.

On the kicker battle:

Cerrato: “The thing what we are going to do, Doc, is we are going to make it competitive. Even at kicker with Shaun [Suisham]. I think Shaun, inside the 40, I mean I think he was like 95 percent. Outside of the 40 is where he struggled.

“What we, well hadn’t mentioned here, when he did have [Derrick] Frost as the holder he was much more consistent than when he had [Ryan] Plackemier, so there is something to go into that also, not to make excuses for him. What he needs to improve upon is his long distance field goal accuracy. Short, inside the 40 he was excellent. He needs to improve upon that (long-range) because he did improve upon his kickoffs.”

A quick interjection: I mentioned when Suisham signed his tender that I had noticed a possible correlation between the change in holders (from Brooks, not Frost, to Plackemeier) and his change in output, but I didn’t give the actual numbers. So here they are: Read more »

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Redskins 2009 Preseason Schedule Released

Posted by Matt Terl on March 30, 2009 – 1:07 pm

The NFL released the preseason schedule today, and … well, it’s pointless to get too worked up about preseason football, because you never know who’ll be playing and for how long and how hard anyone’s going to be trying.

But it’s a tough batch of opponents, based on 2008 performance.

The Redskins were 0-2 against the two of these teams we played last year (Pittsburgh, Baltimore), 0-1 against the one we played in preseason last year (Jacksonville), and the last time we played New England it resulted in a 52-7 drubbing. The list also features six of the last nine Super Bowl champions, and twelve of the last twenty competitors in the AFC Championship Game.

Personally, I like the tough draw — if the point of preseason is to work out your system and your younger players, facing off against the two top defenses from the previous year (and three of the top ten) is better than lining up punching bags and showing how fantastic you can be in a meaningless game. (Remember Osaka?)

Anyhow, here it is. A firm date and time is set only for the nationally televised game, but that’s the all-important third one anyhow. Start making your tailgating plans now!

  • Preseason Week 1 (August 13-17): @ Baltimore Ravens
  • Preseason Week 2 (August 20-24): Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Friday, August 28, 8:00 p.m.: New England Patriots, nationally televised on CBS
  • Preseason Week 4 (September 3-4): @ Jacksonville Jaguars

If they ranked preseason strength of schedule, I’d be hard-pressed to imagine one that’s much tougher, but it’s still enough to start me getting excited for the 2009 season. Not bad, given that college basketball hasn’t even finished yet.

(UPDATE: Per the Ravens website, the Week 1 game is tentatively scheduled for 7:30 p.m., Thursday, August 13.)

After the jump, the full list of nationally televised preseason games. Read more »

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Monday, March 30: Ethan Albright Is Enthused

Posted by Matt Terl on March 30, 2009 – 11:49 am

Ethan Albright doesn’t always love being the object of attention — a fair bit of Casey Rabach‘s footage from being on the road sits largely unseen because Albright is sitting in the background making unkind gestures at the camera.

But this weekend, North Carolina advanced to the NCAA Final Four, so Albright was more than happy to stop and show off his gear. Rabach actually predicted this (once he got done asking me where my umbrella was). “Oh, yeah,” he said. “Ethan’ll definitely want his picture taken. Definitely.”

And he did.

Malcolm Kelly, an Oklahoma product, walked by as we were taking the picture and rolled his eyes at the display.

“Oh, that’s right,” Albright said, “It’s football season again in Oklahoma, isn’t it?” He laughed.

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Devin Thomas Continues To Say The Right Things

Posted by Matt Terl on March 27, 2009 – 1:34 pm

The offseason conditioning program didn’t start out well for Devin Thomas, as a planned absence from the program’s first day somehow took on a life of its own in media reports, leading to a post at Fanhouse with the admonishing headline “Redskins’ Devin Thomas Should Show Up for Voluntary Workouts”. This wouldn’t be particularly significant, except that it was posted on Wednesday of this week, seven or eight days after Thomas had actually shown up. It’s safe to say that public opinion has not been with the second-year wideout.

But things started to turn for Thomas yesterday, with a blurb on Redskins 360 acknowledging his existence at Redskins Park followed quickly by a reasonably positive entry on Redskins Insider.

Well, the Devin Thomas Positivity Train 2009 makes another stop today on Comcast SportsNet’s Redskins Nation, where Thomas sits down with Larry Michael and is perfectly upfront about what went wrong last year, what he hopes to do about it this year, and what the story is with Malcolm Kelly.

For those of you who don’t receive Redskins Nation, the audio of the interview is after the jump, but here — since it’s been a transcribe-y kind of day for me anyhow — are a couple of the choice quotes.

On reports that he came in last season out of shape:

Thomas: “When it really boils down to it, the NFL is a different shape you’ve gotta be in. That’s point blank, period. I felt like coming in I was in good shape, you know, I was in better shape than I’d normally be in, but for the NFL, I probably wasn’t ready. I probably needed to do more.

“And, you know, that showed in not being able to pass the conditioning test. But that’s something I had to learn with that, and I definitely learned that, like, ‘Man, I’ve gotta do more, like even extra.’

“And I think that played a role in it. Then the preseason came and I pulled a hammy, but that was just due to working hard in the practices and overexerting myself.

On this year’s conditioning test:

Thomas: “Oh, man, I’m down here with John [Hastings], our weight room guy, all the time, just getting ready for it, whatever it is. If it’s the same test or not, I’m gonna make sure I’m ready for it.” Read more »

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Cerrato On The Draft, This Year And Last

Posted by Matt Terl on March 27, 2009 – 12:29 pm

More from Vinny Cerrato’s radio appearance this morning.

Rick “Doc” Walker — who did a terrific job during this show — asked point blank about the Redskins’ upcoming draft selections, and Cerrato was surprisingly frank. So here’s something to factor to your future draft speculation, as well as some more insight into the thinking behind last year’s draft.

On if University of Texas DE Brian Orakpo will be there at the thirteenth pick:

Cerrato: “No. He will not be there.”

On Andre Smith, who Walker calls “the nastiest guy I saw on film,” and if he would be a viable pick if he dropped to thirteen:

Cerrato: “He would be a definite candidate Doc.

“You know what, the thing about it was, prior to the season ending in college he was projected to go as high as two. And then he got in trouble with the agent thing, so he got suspended for the game. Then the combine, he left early and then at his workout, I don’t know who advised him to run without his shirt on.

“But then the thing about it is, what happens, Doc, is you make those thoughts at that time. Then what happens is when you get into the meetings in April, you go back to the tape — and the tape don’t lie — and then you start watching the tape and say you know, this guy is pretty good. He probably won’t be there at thirteen, either, Doc. The guy is a talented player.

“Who is going to be there? I don’t know because, Doc, there is so much time yet.
Read more »

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Friday, March 27: Return of the Red Zone

Posted by Matt Terl on March 27, 2009 – 10:22 am

“Inside The Red Zone With Vinny Cerrato” returned to the ESPN980 airwaves this morning, airing for an hour with Rick “Doc” Walker in the host’s seat in place of Redskins beat reporter (and excellent T-shirt wearer) Frank Hanrahan.

The themes were familiar — the Jason Taylor trade, the young wide receivers, the upcoming draft — but it’s always interesting to hear Cerrato face the questions head on.

(Also of interest in this particular broadcast was Walker’s ever-evolving roster of imaginary call-in guests. “Louie from Landover and I want to know,” he’d say, or “Luther from Landover.” Or “Ray from Reston” and “Ray from Rockville.” I was eagerly awaiting the thoughts of Quincy in Quantico, Yolanda in Yorkshire Knolls, or Wallace from Winchester-on-the-Severn.)

If you want to listen to the show, it’s up in ESPN980’s Audio Vault, but here are some of the more interesting answers.

On trading for Jason Taylor last year:

Cerrato: “Let’s go back to the Jason Taylor thing: would I do it again if it were the same thing right now? Yeah, I think I’d have to. We’re coming off a playoff year. First day, first drill, we lose our starting defensive end, and there’s a pro bowl defensive end out there. To give up a two and a six the following year, which was really a seventh this past year….”

“And the other reason I pushed to do it is when Phillip [Daniels] went down, the air went out of the team. And I remember telling Jim and Dan, we need to give the guys some confidence. Give them something to feel like, all right, we have a chance again.” Read more »

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Another Facet Of My Job

Posted by Matt Terl on March 26, 2009 – 3:04 pm

There are a lot of facets to my job that I didn’t expect when I signed on. For the most part, it’s nothing too surprising, and often it’s a lot of fun — the regular appearances on Redskins Nation come to mind.

And then there’s keeping the rain off of Chris Cooley.

As you’ve probably gathered, Cooley is a heck of a nice guy, and mostly not at all like you might expect an NFL Pro Bowl player to be. But he’s developed a real aversion to the rain, and now that workouts have started … well, he can bring an umbrella to work, but he can’t very well hold it while he’s working out.


Video by (and from) Cooley’s Blog. Read more »

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Thursday, March 26: And Finally, Campbell On Campbell

Posted by Matt Terl on March 26, 2009 – 11:02 am

Well, this is a relief. Yesterday, I had two posts about what people were saying about Jason Campbell in the media … and I think we all know that nobody ever rests at a two-parter. Whether you’re making an overly self-important science fiction movie or hammering the local college basketball coach, it’s vitally important to structure your work in trilogy form whenever possible. So I humbly offer big thanks to Ryan O’Halloran at the Washington Times for providing the Return Of The Jedi to this particular three-parter.

In some ways, this is a familiar article. It feels like every year we read one of these “Jason Campbell has to prove himself” pieces, like . There’s a slightly different feel to this one, though — this is, after all, a Jason Campbell who has finally gotten to experience headlines like “With Tough Love From Zorn, Campbell Now Among Elite QBs”.

He still sounds somewhat resigned, somewhat tired of the questions, but he also sounds much more confident than in the past, and when he describes the team’s future success, it sounds much less far-fetched and abstract.

“I smiled about it and said, ‘Here we go again,’ ” Campbell said. “It went over my head. It’s March, and people want things to talk about. Everybody’s into the quarterback and anything that’s going on with him.

“I felt like I had good numbers last year,” Campbell added. “We weren’t a straight-up passing team – they passed more in Denver. In the first half, when our guys were healthy, we were rolling, and the only thing stopping us was us. A lot of things unfolded in the second that didn’t go our way. I feel I can be a top quarterback in the league, so that talk didn’t bother me at all.”

Campbell also describes a slight change to the approach this offseason that should please a lot of his more strident critics … or at least show them that he shares their primary concern: Read more »

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And Another One

Posted by Matt Terl on March 25, 2009 – 2:33 pm

Just in case the earlier post today didn’t provide you with enough “Jim-Zorn-supports-JasonCampbell” for this oddly dreary Wednesday, Mark Maske checks in with EVEN MORE over at his NFL News Feed at the Washington Post.

It’s a long Q&A from the NFC Coaches’ Breakfast in California; it covers a lot of the usual recent offseason subjects, and includes plenty of comfortingly Zornian answers.

The crux of the Campbell talk, after the jump : Read more »

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