I had forgotten what it’s like having fans at practice. Last season, training camp started with thousands of fans cheering every play; then practices are closed to fans but still open to the media; and by the end of the season, it’s pretty much just me, by myself on the sidelines with the coaches and trainers.
So it was almost overwhelming, at first, to see all the fans. In a good way, but still overwhelming. “This is more people than we used to see at our spring game every year,” rookie cornerback Kevin Barnes said.
The first guy out on the field in uniform for 2009 Training Camp was DE Andre Carter, followed almost immediately by LB H.B. Blades.
In fact, it would be fair to say that the defense was literally (not just figuratively, David Elfin) ahead of the offense today, as the first several batches of guys to hit the field were all on that side of the ball. But the offense followed soon enough, and Chris Cooley — who jogged out to chants of “Cooooooooooooooooo-ley” and immediately started signing autographs — was looking like the fan-favorite and recipient of the most applause. Then Jason Campbell walked out.
As Campbell took the field in his yellow QB practice jersey, the fans began applauding, then built to chanting his name, over and over again. I’m sure it didn’t erase any of the stings of the offseason, but it couldn’t have felt too bad, either.
The practice itself was… it’s difficult for me to say, honestly. Memories of the first practice from last year, the loss of Philip Daniels for the season, were tough to shake, and it was basically just nice to make it through with nothing like that happening. There were some nice plays — DeAngelo Hall intercepting a pass, Marques Hagans beating Barnes, Devin Thomas finally getting to show that his offseason work is paying off — and the tempo was good the entire time. It seemed like a positive day, and Carlos Rogers summed up the reaction of a bunch of the guys, telling me, “I felt really good. Better than I thought I was gonna feel, actually.”
Coach Zorn and Clinton Portis talked afterward about how totally of-one-mind they are, which was good to hear. Here’s Zorn: “I think our relationship has grown. He didn’t know me when I first came in here and I didn’t know him. I think based on what he did in the OTA’s, mini camp and stuff like that, he worked really hard, he really did. I was very impressed on what he did. Today he came out here and worked. I think we have a very good relationship but that is because we have communicated. Even all the stuff about us having an incident, that is just us trying to communicate, trying to be up front with each other and knowing how each other feels.”
And here’s Portis from the podium, talking about Zorn giving the veterans permission to stay at home: “I think it’s huge,” he said. And, “So I think giving you the opportunity to just stay home and be responsible, I think that allows the team to grow up. Because it’s the responsibility on you. We asked for it, we got it, now all of a sudden you don’t want to lose that privilege. You go out and you do the things that’s required.”
So that was good to hear.
Afternoon practice starts shortly; twittering and updates to follow. Mister Irrelevant is also serving as an informal clearinghouse for Redskins training camp information and faux-liveblogging, so keep an eye on that as well. Also, click on pictures for much larger, clearer versions.
Tags: on the field at practice, OnTheFieldAtPractice, Training Camp, TrainingCamp
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