There’s a lot of safety depth on the Redskins roster. You’ve got LaRon Landry, reportedly playing closer to the line of scrimmage this year. You’ve got Reed Doughty, one of the more underrated players in the entire league, and Chris Horton, who looked like an impact guy his rookie year before losing last season to injury. And you’ve got Kareem Moore, who impressed me a lot in the offseason mini-camps.
So it wouldn’t seem like there’s necessarily a roster spot for a Lendy Holmes. But Holmes has been around since last training camp, and one of the main reasons is that he’s an omni-talented athlete, even by NFL standards.
When offseason work started at Redskins Park, there was a group of guys that would regularly get together to play Around The World down on the basketball court. This seemed like it might make a decent blog item (although, obviously, it never panned out), and when I talked to the regular players, the same names kept coming up as the best shooters on the team: Carlos Rogers, DeAngelo Hall (which we knew), and … Lendy Holmes?
“Kid’s a freak,” Chris Horton said. “I like Lendy’s game. He can shoot right- and left-handed, so he changes up his shot as he goes around the court. And he’s a good athlete, you know? He can do it all.”
Fred Davis listed himself as the best, but acknowledged, “Lendy has a pretty good shot. Lendy can shoot a little bit. Other than that, I destroy everyone else.”
Carlos Rogers also listed himself as the best, but took time to compliment Holmes. “Lendy can shoot, so I got to give Lendy some credit. And I will say he can use both hands.” (The both-hands thing came up again and again. Holmes’s college teammate Malcolm Kelly claims that Holmes can effectively play ping-pong with a paddle in each hand.)
The question, of course, is if Holmes can translate his basketball skills and natural athleticism to the football field. “He’s a great athlete, you know that,” Rogers said. “It’s just, when he gets the opportunity he’s gotta make the most of it.”
And Holmes, to his credit, knows it. “I feel a big window has opened for me this year since I’ve been here, I stuck around,” he said. “I know what’s going on, I know how things go. Being that rookie I was still trying to figure things out. I feel like it’s a great opportunity for me, just to see the field more.”
With the crowd at the safety position, the best hope Holmes has of seeing the field is on special teams. And he knows that, too. “That’s where I can make my impact,” he said, “with [Special Teams Coach Danny Smith] right there. He knows me, he knows how I operate, I know how he operates and I know what he wants so I could just easily go out there and do it for him.”
As far as his ambidextrous basketball skills, Holmes is somewhat nonchalant. “I can throw with both my hands, too. I just started doing it” one day, he explained. “I didn’t even notice it till people started saying ‘Dang, you use both your hands!’ I’m like, ‘Yup!…Did I?'”
He’s also matter-of-fact about his athletic abilities. “If there’s a ball or a sport, I’m good at it,” he told me. “It’s anything Pool, whatever it is I’m good. I can shoot pool with both hands too. Probably won’t be no strong point, but I can do it.”
The one exception, apparently, is soccer. The bloggers over at Hogs Haven recently had the opportunity to shoot penalty kicks with Holmes and Robert Henson, and Holmes boomed both his shots well over the goal and almost into the concourse. (It is unclear if he can use both feet with ease also; both his attempts were fired off left-footed.) The video in the link is still worth watching.
In the end, though, Holmes’s lack of ability on the soccer pitch won’t hurt his chances of making the Redskins, any more than his skill at basketball — or ping pong, or pool — will help them. It’s going to come down to what he does when training camp starts in a week, and if an opportunity presents itself. “I’m just learning everything,” he told me, “in case there just happens to be that moment.”
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