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Free At Last

Posted by Brian Tinsman on July 30, 2011 – 8:25 am

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Last year, did you know that there are actually other Redskins on the roster besides Donovan McNabb and Albert Haynesworth?

I often had to check twice to make sure.

In all seriousness, the Redskins finally got the opportunity to cut the cord on two of the biggest distractions in team history, and they did so.  Better than that, they got value in return for both players, which was more than many football experts were predicting.

Head Coach Mike Shanahan said he made dealing Haynesworth a priority before camp bagan.  “I think after being with someone for a year, you figure out where they fit in your scheme, or they don’t fit.  We would have released him if we hadn’t traded him.”

So basically the Redskins picked up draft picks for free.  And better yet, they’re finally free of the McNabb, Haynesworth saga.

Let me be very careful to not present these two players as cut from the same stone, because they are not.  Haynesworth was brought in on a historically large contract and never reached his potential.  Questionable work ethic and insubordination, followed by offseason legal troubles made Haynesworth expendable regardless of his abilities.

McNabb was a far more sympathetic character, one who just didn’t fit the system in Washington.  He was a consummate professional: good to the fans, good to the media, and never let his frustrations come out in public.  Even as his results deteriorated, he stayed steady.  That’s commendable for anyone, and it likely earned him future opportunities in this league.

There are several reasons why everyone should like these trades: Read more »

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Three Defenders Start Camp On P.U.P.

Posted by Brian Tinsman on July 30, 2011 – 8:08 am

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In layman’s terms, the Physically Unable to Perform list is like a temporary Injured Reserve, or the disabled list in baseball.

Players on this list are able to go through meetings and do drills off to the side of practice, but may not actually practice with their teammates.  As soon as they’re cleared by the medical staff, they can be taken off the list and everything is Hunky Dory.

Putting a player on the P.U.P. is a coach’s decision, and the Redskins start camp with three players on the list: safeties LaRon Landry, Kareem Moore, and linebacker Robert Henson. Read more »

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Come One, Come All

Posted by Brian Tinsman on July 30, 2011 – 7:38 am

This morning marks the first day of open practices of the 2011 training camp.  Fans are already pouring into Redskins Park and the players are eating breakfast before a big day.

Yesterday was more of a getting-to-know-you session in the morning, and players only really moved at jog pace.  This morning, with an audience, I would expect to see some of the guys feed off of the excitement a little bit.

It should be in the mid-90’s before the end of practice, so your mother told you to pack water bottles and sunscreen.  And be home before the streetlight turns on.

Here’s the players thoughts as they get set for Day 2: Read more »

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End Of Day One

Posted by Brian Tinsman on July 29, 2011 – 11:01 pm

What a day!  I’ve prepared an ice bath for my fingers after a long day of typing and I’ll be available for a media session soon.

In real news, players have a good feeling about how today went, and they should.  Head coach Mike Shanahan said in his evening news conference that five players needed to see the trainer after practice, and that was just IV’s for dehydration.

In addition to the work on the field, Shanahan also anticipated filling up his allotted 23 roster spots in the next couple days, so stay tuned for team announcements.

Here are the players in their own typed words: Read more »

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Mike Shanahan Gets Downright Funny

Posted by Brian Tinsman on July 29, 2011 – 8:27 pm

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You don’t have to drive all the way out to Ashburn to realize that head coach Mike Shanahan is an intense guy.  He has the sternest poker faces in all of pro football, and could probably stare down Clint Eastwood himself.  Whether he’s patrolling the sidelines in front of 90,000 fans or stalking to the kitchen to refill his water bottle, he is one of the most focused people I’ve ever met.

But sometimes he makes jokes–and nobody knows if they can laugh.

That’s what happened at tonight’s media session, on several occasions.  I don’t mean to say that the man doesn’t have a sense of humor, but he often has to clarify that it was a joke afterwards.

He started off his comedic shtick tonight talking about the effort he saw out of John Beck today:  “John’s done a good job on the first day of practice.  I wouldn’t put him in the Pro Bowl yet, but he’s close…That’s a joke.”

Okay Coach, maybe you’re not ready for the Apollo, but that’s a solid start.  What else do you have?

When asked about how the heat affected the players out on the field today, Shanahan shot back quickly with: “I think just the coaches were affected by the heat.”

This time it was accompanied by a smile, and the gathered media knew to laugh.  He was on a roll.  I could smell more wittiness on it’s way.

When asked about the more-intense-than-usual rush on free agent negotiations, Shanahan talked about spending the night on a cot at the Redskins facility last night: “Yeah, I have one of those rollouts.  It’s about $200.  I charged it to Dan though.”

Shanahan wrapped up the media session with a witty remark on solving the punter crisis by signing veteran punter Sav Rocca:  “I sure hope we did.  Well, first of all, I’m hoping we don’t have to punt.  But if we punt, I’m happy it’s him.”

Comedy gold.  Good for Shanahan, for showing a more relaxed side.  I think that now that he’s in his second season with the team and the media, combined with the return of football, Shanahan is right back in his element.

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Donovan McNabb, Revisited

Posted by Brian Tinsman on July 29, 2011 – 7:27 pm

I guess the good news for football fans is that Brett Favre won’t be returning to Minnesota for another year (sorry ESPN).

For the first time tonight, the organization confirmed and announced what many of you already knew: that Donovan McNabb is headed out of town.  It has been a hot topic to sit on, and one that we can finally provide some information about.

At tonight’s press conference with head coach Mike Shanahan, he discussed the process that it took to deal McNabb after only one season.

“I thought he did fit within our system and did the right things that he could be a top notch player for us,” he said.  “At the end of the day, it just didn’t work out quite the way we wanted it to.  We would have had  to make a commitment of three or four years and I was not wanting to do that with the year that I spent.”

Essentially this confirms what pundits had predicted all along: McNabb didn’t fit the system and the money that he was going to be receiving made it a deal breaker.  Shanahan then went on to explain how much of a good guy he thought Donovan was.

“Doesn’t mean that Donovan can’t still play at a very high level,” he said.  “I think the world of him. He really handled himself in a class manner. In the best interest of this organization in evaluating everything I thought it was better to go on.”

That’s pretty high praise for a guy that the organization traded for a pair of sixth round picks.  This calls for a trip down memory lane to establish where it all went wrong.

Background- Welcome to town:

Donovan McNabb’s tenure with the Washington Redskins was a brief one, but it covered the full emotional spectrum.  He was brought here to be a savior and provide the team with an opportunity to win now.  Throw in the fact that he was the former franchise quarterback of a division rival, it was a dream scenario in the district.

Nine months later, those dreams had turned to nightmares, as the team finished at 6-10 and McNabb was benched for the last three games.

On the season, McNabb had a 58.3 percent completion rating for 3,377 yards and 14 touchdowns with 15 interceptions in 13 games.

Maybe the the pieces around him weren’t up to snuff.  The running game was sputtered and struggled to stay healthy, forcing the offense to become one-dimensional.  The receiver corps also struggled with injury and and a bad combination of youth and age.  The offensive line took time to develop in the zone-blocking scheme and McNabb had no time to look downfield.

At the end of the day, for many reasons, it simply didn’t work on the field.  Complicating matters off the field, was the fact that McNabb was due a large contract as part of his extension, an albatross under the new salary cap.

Why the trade makes sense: Read more »

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Leonard Hankerson Fishes His Numeric Wish

Posted by Brian Tinsman on July 29, 2011 – 6:59 pm

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Redskins rookie wide receiver Leonard Hankerson has always been No. 85 on the football field.  In high school, 85.  At the University of Miami, 85.  And now as a member of the Washington Redskins, he will rock the same digits.

Hankerson was informed of his number on Monday night after talking to the coaching staff on the phone.  He finally showed off his new digs today in practice.  Ever since the draft in April, the team had earmarked the number for him, knowing he was interested.  Hankerson celebrated on twitter (@HankTime85):

Before he ever set foot in Washington, Hankerson has already appeared in a No. 85 Redskins jersey as part of the Topps trading cards phot shoot (via twitter):

Looks like he gambled correctly on his jersey numbers or those cards would be worth a lot of money someday.  Maybe.

The good news is that No. 85 officially belongs to Hankerson.  If all goes well, No. 85 will be an occupied number on the roster number for a long time.

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John Beck Talks Up Teammates After Practice

Posted by Brian Tinsman on July 29, 2011 – 1:50 pm

John Beck looked sharp in practice today and looked especially accurate on plays where he rolled out the pocket to avoid the blitz. Depending on the composition and development of the Redskins offensive line, this could be a very good skill to have.

After practice, he addressed the media and talked about how he thought practice went, as the top quarterback on the depth chart.  One interesting nugget was his assessment of center Will Montogmery.  Montgomery could be moving back to the middle after spending 2010 at right guard.

“As a quarterback, you just have to trust those guys,” he said of his linemen.  “You have to, you have to believe in them.  I think that Will today, did a good job.  I have a lot of trust in Will because I saw him come in last year and battle like crazy.

“I think he did a good job at guard, and now we move him to center, which he’s played before.  So I do have a lot of confidence in him, a lot of confidence in the guys in front of me.”

What do you think the Redskins offensive line is going to look like this year?  Check out the video of the full media session below: Read more »

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Atogwe Selects Number 20 [Updated: video]

Posted by Brian Tinsman on July 29, 2011 – 12:39 pm

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To follow up on an item from yesterday, anyone that guessed No. 20 in the Redskins Facebook contest is eligible to win an autographed OJ Atogwe jersey (I hope no one actually submitted No. 137).

Atogwe addressed the media after practice and was clearly very excited to be a Redskin.  He was sporting his brand new burgundy practice jersey and a Redskins cap as he talked about his decision to switch numbers. Read more »

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Brandon Banks Had An A’ight Morning

Posted by Brian Tinsman on July 29, 2011 – 11:54 am

Receiver/returner Brandon Banks figures to be the favorite at returner going into camp, but he got a lot of looks at wide receiver today too.

By his own casual assessment, “Eh, I did a’ight. On routes, coming in and out of routes.  I’m just out there trying to catch that ball and get my timing down with John Beck.”

Banks looked good on deep balls, but made his cuts a little gingerly during passing drills.  Banks said he felt good, but going to be careful about his routes for a while.

“Y’know, I just came out of knee surgery so I’m really trying to get my leg back strong,” he said.

In return drills, Banks tracked the ball well and showed flashes of his familiar speed.  His strategy for returns was relatively simple: “Oh yeah, as long as I catch every return I’m good.”

I guess that would be the most important part.

Banks reiterated that he was pleased with his first showing of the year.  “I feel good about it, the first day. Hopefully I’ll do better tomorrow.”

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