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Thursday, May 21: Anthony Alridge, As Fast As Advertised

Posted by Matt Terl on May 21, 2009 – 1:03 pm

The rookie class got to participate in their first community relations event yesterday, exercising (alongside several Redskins veterans, such as Ladell Betts, above) with three groups of local students as a reward for being the winners of the What Moves U Challenge to battle childhood obesity. (Briefly: students at area schools were encouraged to engage in some sort of physical activity for 60 minutes a day, every day over a four week period. These students were the top of the ones that met or exceeded the goal.)

The event was a success — the students spent an hour working out on the artificial turf practice field with the players, rotating through different stations and generally having a good time.

At least for me, though, the real star of the event was Anthony Alridge. The word on Alridge — acquired off waivers from the Denver Broncos this offseason — has always been that he was fast. You might remember the YouTube video I posted when he was signed, entitled “lookin’ like Barry Sanders”.

Or you might recall Vinny Cerrato, on his late March radio appearance, discussing Alridge’s speed thusly:

We also got a guy that Denver cut, Anthony Alridge, who the year before from the University of Houston, at the combine ran 4.34, at his personal workout ran a 4.22 and he is a third down guy. I talked to Mike Shanahan about him. When he got cut, when he was on the wire, I called him and said Mike, what do you think about this guy. He said, get him. He said he is the fastest guy I have ever seen on the field with the ball in his hands.

Or perhaps you remember the OTA practice report where I described Alridge as “a blazing speed guy,” and Coach Zorn characterized him as “FAST” emphatically enough that I transcribed it in all caps.

So, yes, Alridge = teh fast. Got it. But yesterday took it to an entirely different level, at least for me.

What I noticed first about him yesterday wasn’t his speed, but his enthusiasm. By which I mean how loud he was. By which I mean that he was bordering on Fred Smoot levels of volume. I came over to his group — a sprinting station, appropriately enough — because I could hear him from thirty yards away, shouting at one of the students preparing to run.

“Braids! Hey, Braids!” he was yelling, at a twelve year-old with cornrows, “I got fifty bucks says you’re going to win this one. Come on, Braids!” Then he yelled some more while the kids ran, and when the guy with cornrows lost, he teased him for a bit about costing him money.

This seemed promising, so I stuck around as the groups rotated … and then the next group to the sprinting station didn’t have an even number of students, so trainer Harrison Bernstein recruited Alridge to help out.

The game in question was Tag: one student would lie on their stomach with their hands on the 5 yard line; the other would stand on the goal line. The aim was for the student in the front to reach a target — in this case other new speedster Dominique Dorsey — before the chaser could tag him. Straightforward enough.

Of course, Alridge could make up the five yard gap no problem … so Bernstein positioned him fifteen yards back, at the back of the end zone. It didn’t matter.

%Video-501%

And here’s how it looked from Dorsey’s point of view at the finish line.

“He just ran up and caught that kid,” Dorsey said. “He was really running, too.”

Next Bernstein rotated Alridge to the front position, lying on his stomach. Again, there was little doubt that he could get to his feet and outrun a student from five yards back … so Bernstein let him stand immediately behind Alridge, not even an arm’s length away. Still didn’t matter.

%Video-502%

Alridge isn’t a physically imposing guy, though. He’s listed at 5-9, 175 pounds, so maybe it’s not surprising — even after the display so far — that one of the other kids thought that he’d like to give it a shot.

Bernstein again positioned the student lying down on the 5 and again put Alridge in the back of the end zone, but this time he had Alridge lie on his stomach as well. And he stutter-faked the start count, to prevent any kind of jumping the gun on Alridge’s part.

Still didn’t matter.

%Video-503%

But let’s be honest: he’s running against, like, 14 year olds. It would be easy to dismiss this entirely — although I can tell you from having watched that, live, his speed was appparent — so Bernstein went ahead and organized the obvious match-up: Alridge lying down, with Dorsey giving chase.

And, yet again, it didn’t matter.

%Video-504%

“What happened was, I’m not like these little kids,” Dorsey told me. “I can’t just come out here and start running. I have to do a lot of stretching. Anthony’s a pretty fast guy, and I just couldn’t get him. I think if we did stretch, I’d have a better shot of tagging him. We’d just worked out earlier, legs are a little sore, but that doesn’t take anything away from his speed.”

I asked Alridge if he had a good time with the charity event, and he laughed. “Everything you do, you’ve gotta make it fun. Have a good time, help the kids have a good time. I did a few things in Denver, but this was a lot more fun.”


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