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On The Sideline At Practice, As Is Colt Brennan

Posted by Matt Terl on September 9, 2009 – 5:08 pm

You can click to enlarge the picture above, but it really won’t change very much. The three quarterbacks participating in practice will still look small and far away. That’s because, relative to Colt Brennan, wearing burgundy sweats and a gray Redskins long-sleeve T-shirt on the right of the photo, they ARE small and far away.

This was the second practice since Brennan was put on injured reserve, ending his 2009 season before it could even start, and it’s the second straight time that I’ve noticed him staring fixedly at the quarterback group. They run drills and dodge the rush from one of the strength coaches and get the ball away, and Brennan stands well off to the side with his arms crossed, watching.

Even if he’s watching, though, Brennan is careful to stand far enough away that he can’t hear what the coaches are saying, because — while he’s allowed to be outside for practice — he’s not allowed to participate. At all.

You might ask Brennan how that feels; I certainly did. His answer, initially, was one word long:

“Boring,” he said, flatly.Boring it may be, to stand on the sidelines during practice — and it certainly is more boring than actually participating, although it’s less boring than, say, technical writing — but Brennan is still determined to take the most of it, and to do the best he can to turn watching into ability.

That’s all I’ve got left, really,” he said. “What I can learn from watching. I’ve had some ideas, and I’ve thought about some things, and I’m obviously not gonna let this time be to waste. I’ve talked to some of the defensive guys about going to some of their meetings; I go to all of the offensive meetings. I’m just gonna try to become a student of the game and try to just gain as much knowledge as I can and to do things that in 16 years of football, I haven’t had a chance to do.”

Brennan sounded quiet and determined as he said this, about as far from the goofy guy making Tony Romo spoof videos with Chris Cooley as you can possibly be. But Brennan also pointed out that this seriousness has always been a part of what’s helped along the way, even when it isn’t part of his public persona.

“I think I definitely am a hard worker,” he said, when I asked about the laid-back front he generally presents. “I’ve dealt with some injuries, I’ve risen through some adversity, and the only way you get through that stuff is with hard work and dedication. And I know that about myself, you know? I was a walk-on at two universities, went to juco, went to prep school, but I was always determined, and I was always gonna work hard. But I think now, because you’re put in this mode where you’re not allowed to participate, not allowed to really do a lot of things that you normally would do, it makes you want to do other things to fill that void.”

Brennan gestured out at the fields where a few of his teammates were still doing post-practice work. “For instance, I can’t practice, I can’t do this, but now I wanna do some more stuff just to make that time seem useful. And because I’m not able to do a whole lot right, that’s why I kinda want to do a whole lot more.”

And sometimes, you see things completely differently when you’re not trying to actually DO those things at the same time.

“It’s funny,” Brennan said, “when you step back in this mode and you’re more of a watcher, how your eyes open up a little bit more. You start to see things a lot different. I guess I can see already in these couple days how there’s a lot to be learned and a lot that I CAN learn from watching. So I’ve just gotta be patient and take advantage of any opportunity that I can to get better.”

It’s one of the biggest cliches of sports, that a bad situation can turn into something good, but the fact that it’s a a cliche isn’t stopping Brennan from embracing it. I asked him point blank if he thought there was a chance this injury and subsequent seemingly-lost season might work out to his benefit, and he looked at me like it was the most obvious question he’d ever heard.

“Hell yeah, man,” he said. “I can’t remember a situation in my life when something like this has happened that it HASN’T turned out to be something great. You know, so many negative things have happened in my life where I’ve just kind of kept my nose to the grindstone and just worked through it, and before I know it I’m sittin’ in a situation a couple of years later going, ‘Wow, could you imagine going from where I was to where I am now,’ and I hope this is the same exact thing. That’s just one more thing to work for, one more thing that’s kinda given me some enthusiasm, like, ‘Imagine the reward that could be waiting for you after this adversity you’re facing.’


A few other notes from practice:

Everyone participated, and the only people on the injury report afterward were Carlos Rogers and Mike Williams, both of whom were listed as “limited in practice”.

Afterward, Coach Jim Zorn was asked if he thought this validated the level of intensity in his training camp, and he seemed pleased with the question. “Yes, I think it has,” he said. “Our injury report was minimal. Colt Brennan has his issue that he is dealing with [Ed. note: see preceding 800 words or whatever] and that is why he is on injured reserve. We have a few muscle pulls here and there but I think our guys legs are coming back and they’re bouncing around. Our tempo is looking pretty good. We just want to continue that now.”

And those of you who were concerned by yesterday’s report that the only wideouts working after practice were newly anointed #2 WR Malcolm Kelly and rookie Marko Mitchell can rest easy: Devin Thomas was there as well today.

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