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Play Of The Morning Practice: Darrel Young's Block

Posted by Matt Terl on July 31, 2010 – 12:32 pm

There were a few nice plays in an intense morning practice session — some good throws, especially by Donovan McNabb; a less-good McNabb pass that was intercepted by DeAngelo Hall and taken back for six; a solid performance kicking FGs by Graham Gano — but the play of the day for me was made by a guy who didn’t even have the ball in his hands.

Darrel Young was in training camp with the Redskins last year as a linebacker, but he’s now been switched back to his college position of running back. (“Right now I’m playing basically fullback,” he says, “but starting next week I’ll be playing a little running back just from the pass protect game, kinda like a little Leonard Weaver style.”)

On the play in question, he was working as the blocking fullback, coming to the right side of the second-string line next to Stephon Heyer and guard Chad Rinehart. As the ball carrier made his cut, Young locked in on cornerback Kevin Barnes coming in to stop the run, and flat-out leveled him. “I just hit him ’cause he showed up,” Young told me after practice. “He’s still not talking to me, probably.”

Despite Young’s matter-of-fact description, the play was notable. “I didn’t see the hit,” Rinehart said, “but I heard it.”

He also heard Heyer hooting and hollering and generally whooping it up as the play finished. “Something like that gets you goin’,” Heyer said afterward. “We gotta have those moments, because camp can become a grind and it’s important to find some way to get excited, some way to get happy.”

Heyer’s description of the play was succinct: “He just knocked the hell out of him.”

But Heyer was also quick to point out that it was all in the spirit of training camp and nothing personal. “He probably wasn’t happy that I was yelling in his ear,” Heyer said, “but it’s football. He’ll get up and get somebody else soon enough.”

(And, in fact, Barnes did, blitzing alongside Lorenzo Alexander to wrap up Larry Johnson in the backfield.)

(I should also note, while I’m doing parantheticals, that the second-string line of Heyer, Rinehart, Edwin Williams at center, Kory Lichtensteiger, and Will Robinson combined to perform remarkably well, opening holes for running back on three or four straight plays. “We’ve all been in the fray,” an enthusiastic Heyer said, “So it’s almost like you’re dealing with another starting line if for some reason we all had to play. Everybody’s had experience.”)

For Young, the play — along with another nice reception on a swing pass — was just another small step in his attempt to accomplish what he was unable to do last year: make the roster. Despite a glowing review from Jason Reid in the Washington Post that tipped him as a favorite for that last, wild-card roster spot for his special teams acumen, Young didn’t make the team. He calls the cut “disappointing,” noting, “I was happy for the 53 they chose, but I wanted to be a part of it.”

He hopes things will be different under new head coach Mike Shanahan. “They say they’re gonna play the best, and Shanahan’s known for playing free agent guys and stuff like that,” Young said, shrugging. “I can’t worry about that, though. It makes you lose focus and not worry about the things you’re supposed to worry about. I just let that go.”

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