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Selvish Capers To See Some Time At Guard

Posted by Matt Terl on August 31, 2010 – 6:16 pm

The initial report that seventh-round draft pick Selvish Caper would be seeing some time at guard during Thursday’s game was a bit confusing to me — guard seemed like a crowded position — but today’s release of Edwin Williams explained things some. The move offers the rookie a chance to get some work at another position, and versatility is not something the usually hurts a young player’s value.

In fact, one reason that Capers is fairly happy about the move is precisely because it might increase his chances of making the team, although he refuses to call it a “The More You Can Do” thing. “I hope it is,” he says, grinning. “I’m not saying it is, I’m not saying it’s not, but I hope so.”
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Redskins Release Four

Posted by Matt Terl on August 31, 2010 – 4:00 pm

Today is the strange day when NFL rosters have to be trimmed from 80 to 75 guys, despite the fact that in just four more days they go from 75 to 53. Usually, this means that five guys get cut; placing Malcolm Kelly on IR means that the Redskins only need to cut four.

That list has been released, and it contains one unquestioned blog favorite. (HINT: he’s the guy in the picture above.) Here’s the four guys:

  • OL Edwin Williams. A blog favorite pretty much since he got here, Williams was a local guy with a great story. The release doesn’t come as a complete surprise — Williams has struggled a bit this preseason, and the last few times I spoke to him he seemed somewhat frustrated — but it’s always sad to see a nice young guy go. To extend a year-plus old metaphor, it’s another spill off the ladder for Williams.

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Malcolm Kelly Goes To Injured Reserve

Posted by Matt Terl on August 31, 2010 – 1:54 pm

The long saga of Malcolm Kelly seems to have come to an end, at least for this year, as Coach Mike Shanahan announced today that the wide receiver is headed for injured reserve. This ends his season and means that he can’t practice with the team, but he can attend meetings and rehabilitate the injury around the facility.

And you might think that this decision — to IR and not to cut — means that Kelly’s going to have a chance to make the roster next year, but Shanahan didn’t sound quite so confident. “A lot has to do with how he works relative to getting healthy,” Shanahan said. “I like the guy as a person. I think he’s got a lot of qualities you look for in a football player. The main thing is can he get out there on the football field eventually and play. If I see the right type of work ethic and him doing the little things — the little things the right way — he’s got a much better opportunity to be with us next year, but I’ll evaluate that as time goes on.”

For now: it’s another lost season for Malcolm Kelly.

After the jump: Malcolm Kelly’s lost 2010 in Redskins Blog headlines. Read more »

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Redskins Lead The League In Bill Walsh Coaching Fellowship Participants

Posted by Matt Terl on August 31, 2010 – 11:56 am

NFLLabor.com posted an article yesterday pretty much summarizing the 2010 Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship Program, breaking down the benefits of the program — 25 NFL teams have a coach on staff who graduated from the program, including Keenan McCardell here in Washington, including four head coaches — and explaining a bit of what the program tries to do.

The program, which was named after the man who conceived the idea – late Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach Bill Walsh – exposes talented minority college coaches to the methods and philosophies of summer NFL training camps. Walsh introduced the concept in 1987 when he brought a group of minority coaches into his San Francisco 49ers’ training camp. The program has mentored more than 1,500 minority coaches through the years.

The piece has a strong Redskins flavor, from the picture of Chris Samuels to the quote from Chris Samuels (“I have always known that I wanted to coach football once I retired. This is always what I wanted to do, so now I’m just going to the second phase of my life”) to the fact that the Redskins had the most Fellowship participants in the entire league, the only team to have five such folks on staff.

That list:

  • Steve Atwater
  • Terrell Davis
  • Michael Pittman
  • Clarence Vaughn
  • Chris Samuels

Which also reminded me that I had done a quick Q&A with Pittman waaaayyyyy back on day two of training camp, but had somehow never gotten around to using it. So here it is; his comments on running backs catching passes out of the backfield seem especially prescient after watching the first three preseason games. Read more »

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Nick Sundberg And His Mom (And His Back Tattoo) All Know Long Snapping

Posted by Matt Terl on August 30, 2010 – 4:44 pm

The conventional wisdom on Nick Sundberg‘s training camp and preseason is so widely-accepted that even his mom agrees with it. “In the games he’s done really well. He struggled a little bit in camp,” she said.

(I stopped to talk to Stacie Sundberg outside of New Meadowlands Stadium on Friday, largely because I was startled by the unlikely-seeming sight of a woman wearing the first-year long snapper’s Redskins #57 jersey. But this wasn’t unusual for her: Stacie Sundberg has attended every one of Nick’s games, from high school through college and into his brief pro career.)

Being Nick’s mom, though, Stacie Sundberg was able to go a little beyond that conventional wisdom and explain how the ups and downs had all felt to Nick. “He did well up until camp and then I think the reality of it all kinda got to him a little bit,” she said. “But he got himself back together, and his words to me were ‘The games are much easier than practice.'”

Indeed, Sundberg has definitely rebounded from his shaky moments, but he remains in a competition with veteran James Dearth for the position. If schooling and training have any influence on the results (they don’t, really, but work with me), Sundberg will be hard to beat.

His high school coach was Ben Bernard, also of Arizona Elite Longsnapping, and Bernard started working with Sundberg in high school. “Nick never missed a day of practice for regular football,” Stacie Sundberg said, “and then he had to go, work out, run, and snap a minimum of 200 balls a day, and he’s been doing that for nine years.”

While Nick was getting his education, Stacie had to follow along. “Basically,” she said, “I had to learn what a good snap was.” Now she calls Coach Bernard with play-by-plays from Nick’s games that he can’t get to, and watches every one of Nick’s snaps on DVR, taking still pictures of every part of his motion.

And she’s not unhappy that her son isn’t the star quarterback or running back or whatever. “From a mother’s point of view it’s a perfect position,” she said. “They’re only in the game — if it’s a high scoring game — maybe twelve to fifteen times. It’s great to come out and see him play and know that he gets to participate at this level and can have longevity at a position that’s not gonna beat him up too quickly.”

The strangest coincidence about this whole meeting was that Sundberg had actually just mentioned his mother to me a day or so before, when I was asking about his unexpectedly colorful full-back tattoo. Read more »

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Malcolm Kelly Suffers Setback

Posted by Matt Terl on August 30, 2010 – 2:41 pm

The picture above — wide receiver Malcolm Kelly about to catch a pass — is not from today. It could’ve been; at about 11:30 Larry Weisman tweeted about Kelly’s “long-awaited” return to practice. The the media portion of practice closed and something happened.

“I really don’t know how bad it is,” head coach Mike Shanahan told the media after practice. “It’s definitely a setback.” Shanahan didn’t rule out the possibility of Kelly making the team or being placed on injured reserve, but in a crowded field of wide receivers, not being able to play at all can’t be a good thing for Kelly.

This is hugely disappointing news for Kelly, who was sounding relatively optimistic yesterday for the first time in weeks. “I’m feeling pretty good. I’m feeling a lot better than I have,” he said yesterday.

“We’ll see how it goes tomorrow in practice,” he said yesterday.

“The clock has been ticking,” he said yesterday.

“Tomorrow’ll really be the true test of what I’ll be able to do,” he said yesterday.

And it seems to have been. Unfortunately, the results weren’t exactly what he had hoped. Read more »

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DeAngelo Hall Is Encouraged By Last Year’s Defense (In A Roundabout Way)

Posted by Matt Terl on August 30, 2010 – 12:47 pm

DeAngelo Hall intercepted Mark Sanchez in the second quarter of Friday night’s game, just stepping in front of Dustin Keller and taking the ball for what looked at the time like a sure pick-6. Then he cut to the inside of the field instead of the outside to beat Sanchez’s tackle and wound up caught from behind by Jerricho Cotchery. (The video is below.) This earned Hall some ribbing from his teammates, but he shrugged that off.

“I wouldn’t change a thing,” Hall told me. “The cutback looked good. I didn’t know Jerricho Cotchery was gonna be running me down full tilt — I didn’t even see him around.”

Now we get to the part of the story where I make myself look dumb.
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Brian Orakpo Is Very Confident

Posted by Matt Terl on August 30, 2010 – 10:13 am

Former Redskins linebacker (and current talk radio personality) LaVar Arrington has started blogging for the Washington Post. In general, I like these former-player-POV things — see also: Ross Tucker, Matt Bowen, others that I’m not remembering right now — and so far Arrington’s work has been no exception. But the post he put up Saturday — “Redskins-Jets game: Some questions about the 3-4 and how Brian Orakpo is being used” — made me curious.

Arrington’s essential contention is that playing linebacker Brian Orakpo on both sides of the defense in different situations is a bad idea, for a couple of reasons: the stance is different, the responsibilities are different, and also:

By moving Orakpo from side to side, Haslett is giving the offense an opportunity to identify the defense’s tendencies — which gives the offense an added advantage in identifying blitzes or pass coverages. But also keep in mind that Orakpo is still learning to be a linebacker in the NFL. So I’m wondering why Haslett is not simplifying the defense for him as much as possible.

Arrington sounds convincing, and he carries the weight of experience; even though, as he notes in the post, he was not a 3-4 linebacker, he WAS an NFL linebacker. So I figured I’d ask Orakpo himself his thoughts on the subject during yesterday’s open locker room. His opening response — “Actually, I’m good, man,” — provides the summary, but he did go into a bit more detail. Read more »

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Larry Johnson Talks About His Post-TD Dunk

Posted by Matt Terl on August 29, 2010 – 1:58 pm

Larry Johnson got his wish on Friday, some extra playing time to help make up for his disappointing performance against the Ravens the week before. “I knew I needed that second game just to feel a little more comfortable going out there against another tough defense and be able to put some things together,” Johnson said, and put some things together he did.

Johnson finished the game with 9 carries for 42 yards and a fifteen-yard catch-and-run on a screen pass for a touchdown, which certainly helps Johnson’s preseason stats as well as his confidence. But Johnson doesn’t seem to think it had much effect on the coaches’ decisions either way. “I think it helped me out, but camp lasts longer than one preseason game.”

Johnson celebrated his touchdown by dunking the ball over the goalposts, which created an attractive picture for Saturday’s Washington Post Sports section (and video, below) but which might have seemed a bit excessive for the fourth quarter of a preseason game.

But Johnson doesn’t see it that way. Read more »

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Redskins @ Jets – Final Checklist Review

Posted by Matt Terl on August 27, 2010 – 10:07 pm

So I think I like the fundamentals of this checklist gimmick. It needs some refinement, but I think there’s a seed of a good idea here, and I’ve got a whopping one more preseason game to iron out the wrinkles. If you have any thoughts, drop a line and let me know.

Anyhow, let’s see how the remaining items on the list wound up:

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