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Hilliard Teaching, Learning On The Job

Posted by Brian Tinsman on January 26, 2012 – 5:17 pm

In his first address to the media since joining the club, Redskins wide receivers coach Ike Hilliard admitted that he isn’t necessarily a finished product on the sidelines.

Being only three years removed from his playing days might make this statement obvious, but it’s also unusual to hear in a league dominated by ego over insecurity.

What attracted him to the Redskins job is the fact that he’ll have a chance to work in a situation where he’ll be able to learn on the job, while sharing his expertise.  Check out the interview below: Read more »

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Nationals’ Gonzalez: ‘Hail To The Redskins’

Posted by Brian Tinsman on January 26, 2012 – 4:42 pm

via Nationals.com

For whatever reason, it’s not terribly often that there is legitimate crossover in Washington area sports.  Sure, there’s the occasional Redskins player that throws out the first pitch, or the Capitals owner in the stands at a Redskins game, but there isn’t a long-standing relationship.

Washington’s newest sports figure seems likely to change that, however, as newly acquired Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez has gone all in as a Washingtonian.

The Miami, Fla. native–who spent his first four seasons in Oakland, Calif.–is now a Burgundy and Gold-blooded football fan.  He announced as much on his introductory interview with “The Sports Reporters,” Steve Czaban and Andy Pollin, on ESPN 980.

Have a listen: Read more »

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Kerrigan Talks Senior Bowl, Off The Field

Posted by Brian Tinsman on January 26, 2012 – 3:02 pm

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Earlier this week, I caught up with linebacker Ryan Kerrigan in-between classes, and he shared a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on off the field at the Senior Bowl.

After a superb senior campaign at Purdue, Ryan Kerrigan punched his ticket to the first postseason action he’d had in years.

“I just remember that it was kind of an eye-opener because you saw all of how the NFL Draft process works,” he recalled.  “You’ll be walking through the hotel lobby and coaches will just grab you at any time and ask you questions for a little while, and try to get to know you.

After his Boilermakers failed to finish with a winning season in each of his final three years, Kerrigan was a bit of an unknown to the national audience.  He had put up big numbers in college, but had rarely played on a big stage, which left coaching staffs curious.

“You really saw how every team is really just digging for information and really trying to find things out about you, and they’ll go to any lengths to find it.  It’s really just interesting from that regard, but it really gives you some perspective.”

This game and week of practice was a big stage for a player like Kerrigan, who had risen near the top of many draft boards.  Playing against elite peer competition, Kerriganse seized his opportunity with a strong performance throughout the week.

In addition to meeting with Redskins coaching staff while he was down there, Kerrigan also developed a bond with the Cincinnati Bengals’ coaching staff, which guided his North Team. Read more »

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Shanahan’s Mark Rypien Senior Bowl Story

Posted by Brian Tinsman on January 26, 2012 – 12:28 pm

via. washingtonsportshof.com

After yesterday’s South Team practice at the Senior Bowl, Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan sat down with Redskins Nation’s Larry Michael to discuss, among other things, a distant memory with Redskins great Mark Rypien.

It all began with a reminiscing of the last time Shanahan served on a Senior Bowl coaching staff in 1986, as an offensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos.  In that year’s draft class, there was a senior quarterback out of Washington State University by the name of Mark Rypien.

Rypien was a mid-level prospect with a strong arm and one solid senior season under his belt, but lacked the résumé for an invitation to the Senior Bowl.

That is, until the three quarterbacks in front of him on the North Team went down with injury, including Ken Norseth who came out of the bowl game needing 40 stitches for his mouth.

Good grief, that’s major surgery.

The Redskins-related point here, is that Rypien went from a non-invite to the star of the show.  According to an AP story that ran in LA Times, Rypien went 13-for-17 for 168 yards and a touchdown, en route to a North Team victory.   Read more »

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Memories From Super Bowl XXVI Champs

Posted by Brian Tinsman on January 26, 2012 – 11:17 am

[Editor’s Note: In honor of the 20th anniversary of the Redskins’ victory over the Bills in Super Bowl XXVI, I wanted to put together something that captured the emotion of the season, the title, and the players involved.  With the help of Jim Gehman and his book, Then Gibbs Said to Riggins: The Best Washington Redskins Stories Ever Told, we look back on the magical 1991-1992 Redskins Super Bowl victory.  For much more, I encourage you to buy the book, here.]

The stage was set for the biggest game of the year, featuring a matchup between the Washington Redskins and Buffalo Bills.  For the Redskins, it was their third trip in a decade, and their first appearance following a full regulation season without work stoppages.  For the Jim Kelly Bills, it was their second of what would be four consecutive trips to the Super Bowl (each in defeat).

The two teams were similar in stature, both boasting a Top-4 offense, with the Bills ranked No. 1 overall.  The Redskins had finished the season with a red-hot 14-2 record, balanced by their No. 3 ranked defense in the NFL.

The two teams would meet in the Metrodome in frozen Minneapolis, Minn., only the second time in Super Bowl history that the game was held north of the Mason Dixon Line.  A deep freeze put fan travel in jeopardy, but according to rookie runnning back Ricky Ervins, helped to keep the Redskins focused on the task at hand (via Gehman):

“We never got a chance to experience the whole week. We had it inMinnesota, and there was nothing but snow there,” laughed Ervins. “When you go to Super Bowls now when they have them inMiamiorPasadena, the whole week is a festivity of things going on. We never had that NFL experience.

“Once you get to the game and all the hoopla that’s going on, the singers and the balloons inside the building, it hit me. That year, we were constantly winning, so I was used to winning. So when we playedBuffalo, it was just another game. But once the game was over with and you see tapes that they make up, that’s when it hits you. Wow! I actually played in that game.”

The first man to put points on the board that evening was Redskins kicker Chip Lohmiller.  Despite the social deep freeze of holding a Super Bowl in the Twin Cities, this was a homecoming party for the kicker, who had played at the Metrodrome his entire life (via Jim Gehman): Read more »

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Redskins Park Tribute To Army-Navy Game

Posted by Brian Tinsman on January 25, 2012 – 4:53 pm

This week, the Redskins added this commemorative Army-Navy football to the display case in the lobby of Redskins Park.

For fans of amateur athletics, this Dec. 10th game was an absolute gem, befitting the game’s first trip to the Nation’s Capital.  Both teams resorted to a ground-n-pound offense that’s become synonymous with academy play, and the game came down to the final minutes of the fourth quarter.

With 80,789 people at FedExField to see the Nation’s Greatest Rivalry, it was the rivalry’s largest attendance in nearly three decades, since the game went west to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. in 1983.

All in all, it was a great game, and a big win for the Navy Midshipmen.  Now, it will also be remembered forever, here at Redskins Park.

Whether you “Hoo-rah!” “Hoo-yah!” or “Oo-rah!” (or some variation thereof), congratulations and thank you for your service.

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Chris Samuels Heads Back To The Gridiron

Posted by Brian Tinsman on January 25, 2012 – 3:10 pm

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When most student assistants join an NCAA football staff, there’s a worry about making a good impression and getting up to speed with the responsibilities of the job.  There’s the apprehension of being respected by the players and being an asset, rather than a hindrance to the coaching staff.

But no student assistant has ever had quite the résumé of Chris Samuels, the latest addition to the National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide’s coaching staff.  As Matt Scalici of AL.com reports, he’s come a long way to end up back with his alma mater:

“I’m really excited about the opportunity to work with this group. Coach Saban is the best head coach in college football and his staff is second to none,” said Samuels. “For someone like me looking to build a career as a coach, this opportunity is a real blessing. I can’t wait to get to Tuscaloosa and start learning and doing what I can to help these guys win another championship.”

Samuels’s coaching journey began after his retirement from the NFL, serving as a coaching intern during the 2010 Redskins training camp.  In 2011, he served as the offensive coordinator for the Blount High School football team in Prichard, Ala.

As Scalici noted, the Blount Leopards score 390 points en route to a 10-2 record, and a trip to the second round of the 6A Alabama high school playoffs.

Now that he has found his new calling on the football sidelines, Samuels was also inspired to finish up his undergraduate degree.  During his first stint in college, he was a Human Performance major.  According to Scalici, his return to the classroom has been a long time coming:

“I’m really looking forward to it.  I haven’t been in a classroom other than an NFL classroom in a very long time. Back when I was at Alabama, I had my heart set on making it in the NFL so I kind of took some things for granted. I’m glad I have the chance to go back and do it right.”

“I always planned to go back and finish my degree and I knew that if I wanted to be a college or high school coach, it was something I needed to do,” Samuels said. “I was asked to come introduce the captains at the team banquet this year and while I was there, Coach Saban sat down and talked with me a while and told me he’d love for me to come be a part of their staff. It was an opportunity I couldn’t say no to.”

Redskins fans will remember Samuels as one of the great left tackles of his generation: a first-round pick, turned six-time Pro Bowler, with one All-Pro selection and 141 starts.  Injuries forced him to retire prematurely in 2010, but his many years in Washington helped to prepare him for this next step.

Samuels was available at yesterday’s Senior Bowl practice, and spoke to the assembled Washington media (via Ryan O’Halloran of CSNWashington.com):

“I thought it would be easy because I played, but it was totally different.”

“I learned a great deal from playing all those years and I’ve been around a lot of great coaches,” Samuels said. “But a lot of players don’t realize it’s different playing football and coaching football. The Redskins [coaching staff] taught me about shifting different personnel groupings and different concepts in the passing game.

The best of luck to Chris as his strong work ethic carries him into the next step in his great football career.  If the desire is there in the future, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him back in the NFL someday.

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London Fletcher Touches Down In Hawaii

Posted by Brian Tinsman on January 25, 2012 – 12:46 pm

In anticipation of his role in this Sunday’s Pro Bowl, Redskins linebacker London Fletcher has landed in the Honolulu International Airport, where he was greeted by Redskins fans.

He shared pictures and thoughts via his Twitter account (@LFletcher59):

Aloha! HTTR!” said the first tweet, followed shortly by, “I love the fans!Read more »

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Kerrigan Back At Purdue Finishing Degree

Posted by Brian Tinsman on January 25, 2012 – 12:09 pm

AP Image

The NFL season is a grueling five month endeavor that begins in a fiery August and ends in a frozen January (or February).  Along the way, players get understandably tired, and use the first few weeks of the offseason to decompress and relax.

Some go home to reacquaint with family and friends, while others fly to remote locations to get away.

And then there is rookie linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, who flew back to West Lafayette, Ind. to finish up his undergraduate degree at Purdue.  Classes began on Monday, Jan. 9, a mere eight days after the final pro game of his rookie season.

“I’m taking five classes this semester and then I’ll have a little bit more to go after that,” he told me last week.  “I switched majors late in my career, so that kind of set me back a bit, but I’ll be able to graduate with a few more classes after this semester.”

It’s been 13 months since Kerrigan sat in a Purdue classroom, but a lot has changed for him in that span.  He put his final semester of college on hold to train for the NFL Draft process, improving his stock to a mid-first round prospect.  He played in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., competed in the NFL Combine in nearby Indianapolis, Ind., exhibited at the Purdue Pro Day, and flew to New York for the NFL Draft.

When he finally got to Washington in August, his learning process was just beginning, as he transitioned from a down lineman to the outside linebacker position.  The classroom setting may have changed, but his practical education has been working overtime.

“It’s good to keep the brain going, I guess,” he said casually.  “I just got out of class and took like three or four pages of notes.  At first I thought, ‘Man, I haven’t done this in a while,’ but then I remembered, ‘Oh, yes I have.’  It’s just different from a curriculum standpoint, but it’s similar in importance.” Read more »

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Tuesday Senior Bowl Notes: The Coaches

Posted by Brian Tinsman on January 24, 2012 – 8:30 pm

via NFL Network

There were many reasons to be excited about watching today’s NFL Network coverage of the Shanahan-led Senior Bowl South Team’s practice.

For media, this was the first time since training camp that they’ve been privy to a practice in its entirety.  For most fans, this was the first opportunity to see how Redskins coaches interact with their respective group of position players.

I just thought it was pleasant to watch a “Redskins” practice from my living room.  I’m all about the simple things in life.

Here are some screen shots taken from today’s television coverage, with a focus on the Redskins coaching staff: Read more »

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