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Friday, November 27: Two Years Since Sean Taylor Passed

Posted by Matt Terl on November 27, 2009 – 10:39 am

It’s been two years now since Redskins Pro Bowl safety Sean Taylor passed away, but the team continues to memorialize him, formally and informally.

His lockers remains intact both at the stadium and the training facility; many of the players regularly wear shirts commemorating Taylor under their jerseys; his Defensive Player of the Week parking spot remains reserved; and, yet again, the team has had Taylor’s number 21 painted on the grass outside the main entrance to FedExField, where fans are invited to leave whatever memorials they see fit.

More tributes below. Read more »

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Thursday, November 26: Redskins Discuss Thanksgiving Foods. At Length.

Posted by Matt Terl on November 26, 2009 – 11:59 am

For Thanksgiving last year — a year ago to the day, in fact — I talked to a bunch of the players about how they prepared their turkey. It turned into a much livelier debate than I expected — and introduced the word Fred-o-synthesis to the world — but ultimately boiled down to two major choices: roasted or fried.

This year, I thought it might be interesting to hear about something a little less binary, so I posed one question to a bunch of guys in the locker room: what’s your favorite Thanksgiving side dish? And that seemingly simple question led to some surprisingly elaborate answers.

The Importance Of Dressing

“Dressing,” Fred Smoot said when I asked for his Thanksgiving favorite. There was no pause, no hesitation, no rumination. Smoot, as usual, is supremely confident in his likes and dislikes. “I am a FIEND for dressing.”

But Smoot declined to provide specifics of his family’s dressing recipe. “If I tell you, I’m’a have to kill you,” he said. “But I will tell you something: I love dressing. I could eat dressing 365 days a year. But the key to a good dressing is a great giblet gravy. ‘Cause no matter the range of your dressing — if your dressing’s great or it’s okay or it’s good — you got the right giblet gravy, it’ll turn out great.”

Just the mention of dressing got Chris Wilson fired up. Read more »

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Wednesday, November 25: Things Look The Same To Marcus Mason

Posted by Matt Terl on November 25, 2009 – 3:39 pm

Head coach Jim Zorn said today that newly re-signed RB Marcus Mason “will definitely play this week,” albeit probably as part of a committee. “He’s been working out and trying to get ready so that if he had an opportunity he would be ready. That’s what you love about a player like Marcus and other players like him who stay ready. Now he has every opportunity to participate in his first game back.”

And Mason knows that his chances are likely running out. “I feel like this is the best opportunity I’ll have,” he said, “so I got to make a name of myself. I got to do something this weekend and this is it. I feel like I’ve had nine lives and I’m on my eighth one.”

It’s been a little over a month since Mason was released — “October 20th,” he says, without hesitating; the memory is clearly still fresh — and it’s been a pretty dramatic four-plus weeks.

Here’s the offensive starting lineup from each week since Mason was released, plus the projected starting lineup for this weekend’s Eagles game. It’s kind of a terrifying grid to look at. Read more »

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Daniel Snyder Remembers Abe Pollin

Posted by Matt Terl on November 24, 2009 – 6:20 pm

I was in the car, sitting in Beltway traffic, when news broke today that Abe Pollin had passed away at the age of 85. I spent the drive flipping back and forth between the two major local sportstalkers, listening as they each brought on one person after another who had been somehow affected by Pollin during his 45 years on the DC sports scene.And, on ESPN980, one of those people was Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder. You can hear the interview in ESPN980’s Corona Audio Vault, but — thanks to the intrepid Redskins PR staff, since I was (still) stuck on the Beltway — here’s the transcript of his comments to THe Sports Reporters show, featuring Steve Czaban and Abe Pollin’s cousin Andy Pollin.

Read more »

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Wizards Owner Abe Pollin Passes Away

Posted by Matt Terl on November 24, 2009 – 5:05 pm

Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder issued the following statement about the passing of Washington Wizards owner Abe Pollin: “Abe Pollin was a great owner for Washington, as well as a personal friend. His legacy will live through his teams and the arena he built, and just as importantly, through his commitment to his family and to Washington. My thoughts and prayers go out to Irene and the rest of his wonderful family.”

Pollin’s importance to the Washington D.C. area really can’t be overstated; for a good overview of that importance, I recommend Joe White’s AP obituary for Pollin. Here’s a brief excerpt:

Read more »

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Daniel Snyder (Very Briefly) Speaks At The Harvest Feast

Posted by Matt Terl on November 24, 2009 – 3:10 pm

Today is the Harris Teeter-Redskins Harvest Feast Presented By Ryan Homes, which is — in plain English — the turkey giveaway. Redskins players, team officials, Hogettes, and assorted volunteers distributed thousands of turkeys and other traditional Thanksgiving foods to Prince George’s County residents in need. It’s always a good event, and today was no exception.

I’ll have more from today’s event later on, but the lead story would have to be that Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder briefly addressed the media. Very briefly, and mainly just about the the Redskins giving back at Thanksgiving, but it was an address nonetheless. And since he speaks so infrequently, that tends to be something of an event.


Here’s as complete a transcript as I could put together, for those of you who aren’t captivated by my stellar camera work. Read more »

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Tuesday, November 24: The Likely New Kickoff Backfield

Posted by Matt Terl on November 24, 2009 – 12:35 pm

With the injury to Clinton Portis, Ladell Betts became the primary running back. This removed Betts from his duties as upback on kick returns and put Devin Thomas in that spot. Rock Cartwright, of course, remained as primary deep back return man.

With the injury to Betts, Cartwright becomes the primary running back. This moves Thomas to primary kick returner, and cornerback Byron Westbrook to upback.

At upback, Westbrook’s role is fairly straightforward. “Sometimes I make sure the closest guy doesn’t hit the returner,” he says. “Sometimes I actually have a specific person to hit or to block. So it’s just dependent on the type of coverage we’re running that game.”

But — despite the fact that he worked at return man during his first season with the team, when there were no designated speed guys in training camp — Westbrook says that he’s not secretly hoping for a short kick to show off his skills. “Not really,” he says. “They kick it short, I’m still gonna give Devin the chance. Sunday when they squib kicked, if I really wanted to go attack the ball and get it, I could have. But at the same I know that if I caught the ball, it would’ve been impossible for Devin to get in front of me to make that block. So if the ball can get to him, he’s always the first option.”

It helps that Westbrook seems completely confident in Thomas at kick returner. Read more »

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Edwin Williams Gets To Live His Dream (But Can't Understand Casey Rabach)

Posted by Matt Terl on November 23, 2009 – 5:02 pm

Getting to live your childhood dream isn’t the kind of thing that just happens to people. Say, as a purely hypothetical example, that you’re a kid who went to school at DeMatha and grew up rooting for the Redskins. You played football at the nearby University of Maryland, but went undrafted in the NFL.

Even if some team wants you, there’s no guarantee it’ll be the one you rooted for as a kid.

Even if that team does want you, there’s no reason to assume you’ll make the roster.

Even if you do make the roster, you probably won’t ever be active on gameday.

Even if you are active on gameday, the odds against you actually playing are still pretty slim.

And even if you do play, it’s probably not going to be against your favorite team’s biggest rival on the turf of their brand new stadium. I mean, that kind of thing just doesn’t happen.

Except to Edwin Williams, I guess.

“I feel like sometimes somebody’s writing my story for me, you know,” Williams said today. “The only thing that could be different is that I just wish we could’ve won that game yesterday. It’s different watching the game, but when you get into it, it hurts even worse.”

Much to his surprise, Williams even managed to avoid butterflies when he was called into action, at least initially. “To be honest, I wasn’t nervous at all, strangely enough,” he said. “I’m usually Mister Anxiety, but I wasn’t nervous at all until I got to the huddle and everybody was like, ‘You got to go out there and punch people in the face!’ all this, ‘play hard, keep your head back!’ All this stuff.”

He stopped for a beat, remembering. “Then I was like, ‘Okay, I’m nervous now.'”
Read more »

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Roster Moves Galore!

Posted by Matt Terl on November 23, 2009 – 4:32 pm

Some upbeat and cheerful afternoon roster moves for you, if you consider ‘putting three guys on injured reserve’ upbeat and cheerful. Here’s the rundown:

  • Ladell Betts goes to injured reserve.
  • Chad Rinehart goes to injured reserve.
  • Eddie Williams goes to injured reserve.

Two of these roster spots have already been filled; the third move will presumably come later this week.

First, running back Marcus Mason has been re-signed. Again. See previous “Marcus Mason Re-Signs” posts for more information on Mason. He’ll be wearing number 32 this go around, marking his third set of digits with the Redskins.

Second, the team signed offensive guard Paul Fanaika (fun-EYE-kuh) from the Eagles’ practice squad. Fanaika was a seventh-round draft choice for the Eagles in the 2009 draft, meaning that he’s — that’s right! — a young offensive lineman. So that should make some people around here very happy.

The Eagles have a terrific media guide; here are some of their tidbits about Fanaika. Read more »

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Monday, November 23: LaRon Landry Doesn't Give A [Darn] How He Played

Posted by Matt Terl on November 23, 2009 – 1:28 pm

I only seem to find myself talking to LaRon Landry about things that do not make him happy. Getting run over by Brandon Jacobs, for example. So I was actually kind of excited today — even though the team lost a heartbreaker in Dallas — to be able to finally ask Landry about one of the best games I’ve seen him play. The stat line wasn’t that remarkable, just two tackles and three assists per NFL.com, but he was breaking up passes all over the field.

Landry, on the other hand, didn’t see quite so much reason for enthusiasm.

“I felt good out there,” he said, but continued, “I ain’t gonna say it was my best game, but I felt good out there. But the bigger picture is we lost. I don’t give a [darn] how I played, how the defense, offense, special teams did. At the end of the day, we lost. And no matter how we played, it wasn’t good enough.” Read more »

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