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Signings, OTAs, Pictures, and Even Some Smoot: A Monday Miscellany

Posted by Matt Terl on May 17, 2010 – 11:52 am

Today marks the start of OTAs for the 2010 Redskins. Last year, for some idiotic reason, I waited until the OTAs were three-quarters over to fully define what the acronym means. So let’s knock that out right now, quoting last year’s explanation directly:

OTA stands for organized team activities, fourteen offseason full-team training sessions that coaches are allowed to schedule.

Unlike the mandatory minicamp that took place earlier this offseason, the OTAs are voluntary — although all coaches leaguewide seem to strenuously encourage attendance — and they have more in common with regular in-season practices than they do with the more grueling training camp practices that are coming up in July and August.

If this were the analogy section of the SATs, you might lay it out like this:

 minicamp:training camp::OTAs:in-season practice days

(If the SATs no longer have an analogy section, just disregard that last bit.)

Anyhow, with the minor difference that there are currently just 13 OTA days scheduled, rather than 14, that definition pretty much holds true. So the short version is this: the team is getting some more practice in today.

In preparation for that, a flurry of signings were announced this morning: the team added veteran defensive lineman Vonnie Holliday and rookie undrafted free agents WR Brandon Banks, WR Shay Hodge, and DB Melvin Stephenson.

After the jump, a little bit more on each of those guys, including pictures from today’s on-field work.

Vonnie Holliday

Calling Holliday a veteran doesn’t really do the guy justice. Here’s his career summary, from the press release announcing his signing:

Holliday, 34, has played in 167 career games, with 144 starts, in 12 National Football League seasons with four clubs. For his career, he has recorded 572 tackles, 60 sacks, two interceptions, 38 passes defensed, nine forced fumbles and 11 fumble recoveries.

More than a few people I’ve asked about the guy compared him favorably to new linemate Phillip Daniels, a guy who’s still in spectacular shape (6-5, 285) despite his age. He brings still more veteran experience and competition to an insanely crowded defensive line position. He spent last season with the Denver Broncos, he played in all 16 games, made three starts, and registered 33 tackles, including five for loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

I wasn’t able to get a great picture of him because the team is all crowded onto one practice field while the other two await completion, but here he appears with new defensive line coach Jacob Burney, undrafted rookie free agent Trey Jacobs, and fellow newly-acquired veteran Adam Carriker. In other words, if this picture traveled through time to six months ago, it would make virtually no sense to even the biggest 2009 Redskins fan.

Brandon Banks

I wrote briefly about Banks when he was a try-out guy during the last mini-camp. Unfortunately, it was almost entirely about how short he is, which is reductive and unfair. He was also a hugely successful wide receiver in college, and he’s got plenty of highlights to show it.

Plus this video, in which a decidedly non-fiery Kansas State coach Bill Snyder explains how Banks’s returns and the rest of that unit “created more spirit and enthusiasm” than he’d seen all year. (Perhaps they can work that magic on the sportscaster as well.)

It’s easy to dismiss Banks’s chances because of his diminutive size, but if you want an optimistic approach … well, there’s another undersized former Kansas State standout who’s doing pretty well for himself in the NFL these days.

Shay Hodge

Hodge led the SEC ed the SEC with 70 receptions for 1,135 yards and eight TDs last year. He has a reputation as one of those “plays faster than his measurables” type guys, although I freely admit to knowing very little about him. Here’s a pre-draft review of him that … well, that actually doesn’t offer much more information than that, actually. Still: this circus catch is certainly worth taking some notice of.

Melvin Stephenson II

If I know little about Shay Hodge, I knew next to nothing about UTEP defensive back Melvin Stephenson II. Fortunately for all of us, the guys at Hogs Haven dug up some numbers when they found out that he had been in for a tryout. Here’s what they came up with:

Melvin would definitely be a long-shot to make the squad. He was not invited to the combine, but put up decent numbers in his Pro Day. He had a highlight interception for a TD against Texas this year, and that’s about it. The Justin Tryon experiment continues as the former 4th round pick enters his 3rd year. As a cop would say, “There’s nothing more to see here….move along.”

Okay, maybe they didn’t dig up all that much. Still, you just never know — isn’t that the point of all this offseason stuff, after all?

Smoot Speaks

Longtime blog favorite Fred Smoot spoke to a school back in his hometown of Jackson, Mississippi recently. Dan Steinberg has the transcription, but since nobody does Smoot justice quite like Smoot, here’s the video. (He mentions Donovan McNabb, if you need a current Redskins connection.)


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