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Special Teams Practice – Hunter Smith Takes Footwear Advice From Fred Smoot

Posted by Matt Terl on August 10, 2009 – 4:40 pm

Special teams practice this afternoon, mostly working on kick and punt coverages with the JUGS machine. Shaun Suisham and Dave Rayner did some kickoff work, with Suisham getting the ball just into the endzone and Rayner putting the ball through the back of the endzone at least once, but I have no idea how (or if) the intermittent strong breezes were playing into that.

In the end, though, the most interesting thing to observe about the afternoon’s practice was Hunter Smith‘s new pair of kicks.

Burgundy and gold and fresh out of the box, they were eye-catching enough that there were two of us — me and David Elfin of the Washington Times — waiting to ask him about them when he got off the field.

“I got the idea from Fred Smoot, actually,” Smith said. “Fred wears these and I liked ’em.”

By this point, at least one TV camera and another print journalist had shown up.

“The true story is, we kickers wear soccer shoes,” he went on. “We try tons of new shoes every year, and this is just the next flavor of the week.”

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Morning Practice – Linemen Battling

Posted by Matt Terl on August 10, 2009 – 1:34 pm

Practice today was yet another hot one, with even hotter temperatures predicted for this afternoon’s special teams practice. Coach Jim Zorn, presumably as yet another way of demonstrating his now-legendary quirkiness, is thrilled by this. “The heat is wonderful,” he said after practice. “It’s going to be hotter this afternoon. We cannot wait. It helps us.”

Less wonderful, of course, are the still-nagging injuries. “Not to my liking,” he said. “We still have little nicks, and the nicks are with some of the key guys.” The main guys he was referring to were Santana Moss and Devin Thomas, both of whom sat out of practice today. Jeremy Bridges and Reuben Riley were held out of offensive line work, and Anthony Alridge was completely absent from practice.

I caught up with Alridge afterward, walking around with a boot on his foot — not what you hope to see from a guy known almost entirely for his speed. But Alridge — who was injured in preseason last year in Denver — seems optimistic. “I’m fine, man,” he told me. “I’m ready to play. I’m wearin’ the boot ’cause they want me to wear it, but I’m ready to go.”

Like, ready to play in the game on Thursday? “Oh yeah. I’d better be [ready on Thursday]. Just tape me up and I’m ready to go.”

Jason Campbell seemed to be looking downfield more, which was good to see, but his accuracy was down, which wasn’t. Colt Brennan was spotted having his arm looked at by the training staff and seemed unusually tentative during his work in drills, but said afterward that he felt fine and that his arm was just tired from a combination of strenuous throwing and weightlifting yesterday, an assessment that Coach Zorn agreed with. “We threw a lot of balls yesterday and all of the arms were a little bit tired today,” Zorn said. “He’ll be fine.”

But the high point of practice — for me, at least — was the linemen’s 1-on-1 drills. In fact, this has become far and away my favorite thing to watch at practice in general. There’s usually a pretty clear winner and loser, some solid hitting, and the guys who aren’t participating tend to chime in with some enthusiastic chatter.

Today’s practice was no different.
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Monday, August 10: Weekend Recap

Posted by Matt Terl on August 10, 2009 – 7:49 am

In case you’re the strange sort of person who was not glued to your computer over Fan Appreciation Day weekend, here’s what went on around here.

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