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Other Notes From Practice

Posted by Matt Terl on May 5, 2009 – 3:14 pm

Since my earlier practice update wound up unusually focused, I figured I’d split these out into a separate post.

Fred Davis admittedly does not look particularly fast or athletic when he’s having a drink of water. Pretty much no one does. But today — for the third or fourth straight day — I was struck by Davis’s footspeed after the catch. He’s a big guy, but is remarkably quick. I really, really hope we get to see it in the regular season this year. (Insert obligatory disclaimer about lack of performance last year here.)

I know depth of field can be a tricky thing in these pictures, but, yes, that’s both Todd Collins (above) and Colt Brennan (below) throwing passes in mid-air. It’s yet another wacky quarterback drill brought to you by head coach Jim Zorn and offensive assistant Chris Meidt, and it went pretty much as you’d guess: take the snap, scramble right, leap just before the out-of-bounds stripe, and throw the ball while airborne.

These Zorn drills — this, the dodgeball yesterday, the pads last year — undeniably seem goofy and pointless. But the motions they teach really are directly translatable to football. (For the touchdown pass to Santana Moss in last year’s New Orleans game, the one that ended with Antwaan Randle El hurdling Moss in the endzone, Jason Campbell uses a move to step up in the pocket that I must’ve seen Zorn go over with the QBs a hundred times or more. You can see it clearly in this video.) And Campbell excelled at this drill today, just as he has been at each one this training camp. (My pictures of it, however, do not excel, so you’ll have to settle for Collins and Brennan.)

I teased the specialists yesterday for not doing much besides huddling, but today was much busier. They did their first kickoff work, and — to my still-untrained eye — Shaun Suisham seemed to have regained his early-season kickoff form, which would be nice. The drill pictured above is designed to improve accuracy, and it involves trying to hit the upright while kicking across the field. (Which explained why they appeared to be deliberately kicking the ball into the woods.) Suisham is the current Redskins record-holder, with three in a row. “[Special teams coach] Danny Smith tells me that someone else also has three, but never told me who it is,” Suisham said.

As for the two new receivers, my initial impressions were pretty favorable. Roydell Williams has a lot of natural ability, but isn’t as comfortable with the offense. “This is a big difference,” he said after practice. “The West Coast offense–everything is different, the terminology, the concepts, the routes. I just have to get my head in the playbook and I think I’m picking it up well.” I saw Williams make a couple of solid catches during drills, although nothing more specific than that.

Trent Shelton (above) spent last year on Seattle’s practice squad, though, where they still run a similar offense, so he’s much more comfortable with the system. “I got in the meeting room, and I knew exactly what to do. There are different things, but a lot of the terminology is similar. It makes for an easy transition.”

I also asked Shelton, since I knew virtually nothing about him, what current player’s game he thought he could be most similar to. “I’m not saying I’m as good as them, of course, but I’m more of a Randle El type. Like a guy that can get in there and slash, a quick guy. I like to block, and I’m kind of a physical receiver at the same time, so whatever you need. Like a Hines Ward guy. Whatever you need.”

Shelton had one notable catch in 7-on-7 drills today, streaking downfield past DeAngelo Hall on a go route, catching a pass from Campbell in stride, and continuing down to the endzone. “The good thing about the NFL is that the DBs can’t put their hands on you,” he said afterward, “so I just stayed on his toes and got past him, and the quarterback put a perfect ball for me to catch.”

One of the players watching the play from the sidelines had a less charitable assessment — “That’s what fresh legs can do,” someone shouted — but it looked pretty impressive nonetheless.

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