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The Most Optimistic Time Of The Year

Posted by Matt Terl on July 29, 2009 – 4:58 pm

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Let’s be honest: it’s the day before the first day of training camp. If the head coach of the team comes out with anything other than full-bore optimism, it’s probably a really bad sign. So from that perspective, there wasn’t much that was unexpected about Jim Zorn‘s press conference today.

Here, for example, are Zorn’s opening remarks:

“I’m excited about starting 2009. I hope everybody else is. I hope everybody is ready for some great practice watching — from my standpoint, it’s participating. We are looking forward to an outstanding year. We’re looking forward to an excellent training camp. I think everyone around the league is. This 2009 season is going to be exciting but just as difficult to put together as it was last year, we’re on our way. We have a lot of healthy players this year. We are not starting out with an injury report this year. We’ve got all the guys are ready to participate the first day of practice, so we are excited about that.”

And, really, that was the tone he took for the rest of the session.

(The video above is oddly compressed for some reason. I recommend the better-resolution version over at Redskins.com. For more transcribed excerpts and a look at Rocky McIntosh’s presser, keep on reading.)

Brian Orakpo, for example, is not signed yet, but for now, that’s nothing to worry about.

Zorn: “At some point it’s going to be a concern. At this particular time every year agents work with the players and teams and try to get everyone into camp. I think that’s what they’re trying to get done. It’s not going to happen for us today; training camp really starts this afternoon and I know Brian won’t be here this afternoon. But as soon as it can get done — and I’m hoping it’s soon, the better is going to be for us and for him. And at some point I would say, ‘Yes, I’m concerned,’ but at this point I’m not.

What about injuries? Is anyone injured?

Zorn: “I don’t think one guy. Tomorrow morning I think every guy will be on that field. I do not have a list of anybody we are going to hold out. There are a few guys we are going to ask to practice just one-a-day because we want to maintain their health. They’re going to be in the toughest parts of practice, there’s no doubt about that.

“There will be some afternoon practices that we ask a few guys to stay out of. Part of it depends on their level of soreness. We’ll just take those players one at a time and go from there. I’m thinking about Randy Thomas and his knee and neck, Chris Samuels and his knee. They might be able to go two but do we need to have them go two? Phillip Daniels and Cornelius Griffin would be other ones. They will possibly be the ones to practice once a day. It will be the toughest practice of the day, but it will be one a day.”

So far, sounds good. Hey, Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas and Fred Davis didn’t do much last year. Is that going to happen again?

Zorn: “They were in here after the football season starting to work, especially Devin [Thomas] — he’s really come on and gotten in great shape. Finally we’ve got Malcolm [Kelly] working daily to where his knee is not swelling up. I think he would be another guy that I would just make sure of and go one a day with him as well. I’m going to see how his knee responds to the physical strain we put on him during training camp. Fred [Davis] is looking very good and he is also very up-to-date with our offense. He’s not making mistakes; he’s going to play this year. He’s going to be a guy that’s going to be on the field — he’s making us put him on the field, which is a good thing.”

Okay, so Devin’s in great shape, Malcolm’s knee isn’t swelling, and Fred is looking very good. That all sounds promising too.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m happy to hear this, and I have no reason to disbelieve any of it. (For example, I’ve seen Devin Thomas’s offseason work ethic with my own eyes.) And, as I mentioned at the start, it would’ve been hugely surprising — and demoralizing — if the coach had come out and said, “Gosh, yeah, we’re just doomed.”

But it made more a remarkably dry press conference. A few more nuggets:

Brian Orakpo is “a fast study when it comes to football concepts and he’s able to make his body do what it should when its on the field. As he gets the concepts down, he has really been able to make himself play the linebacker position the way that [defensive coaches Greg Blache and Kirk Olivadotti] want him to.”

On the backup quarterbacks: “I really want to see [Colt Brennan]; I think he’s worked hard this offseason so that he can’t try to get that number two spot. But then when you look at what [Todd Collins] has done this offseason, you definitely can say that he’s improved. He’s really done a great job of working out and getting himself ready and he’s not going allow Colt to take his position. “

On the receiver depth chart: “Right now, [Antwaan Randle El] is going to have to fight and try hard in order to keep that flanker position. He’s easily our third receiver, but is he our second receiver?”

And, probably Zorn’s most amusing comment of the day, on Mike Williams‘s weight loss: “He’s 342 pounds. I’ll let him describe it to you as he described it to me: he was talking about what a pound of bacon looks like, and … he’s lost a lot of bacon.”

Rocky McIntosh, on the other hand, was much, much funnier. In a relatively brief — and exceedingly rare — four minute press conference, McIntosh was asked what his individual goals were.

In response, he said, “I’ve gotta satisfy you [media] guys, get y’all to stop doggin’ me,” then added, “Psych!” (Or “sike,” “psyche,” or “syke” depending on your preference. Urban Dictionary approves all spellings. No matter how you spell it, it’s a phrase that doesn’t get nearly enough play in NFL press conferences.)

McIntosh’s best line, though, came in response to a question about how Coach Zorn would be different this year. “Hopefully he tuned up on his pregame speeches a lot this offseason,” Mcintosh said, “because a couple of them … they weren’t very motivational.” Pause. “Sorry, Coach.”

I really, really hope that Rocky is planning to talk to the media more this year, because his presser might’ve been the most amusing part of the whole day.

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