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Redskins Kill Time By Doodling

Posted by Matt Terl on December 1, 2009 – 4:55 pm

Renaldo Wynn
‘s “Holiday Wishes Come True” event was a big success today. Wynn, along with his wife LaTanya and a huge number of his teammates, escorted local children in need through Target, providing each kid with a hundred dollars to use toward whatever they wanted for the holiday season.

Byron Westbrook was one of the players who helped out with — and enjoyed — the event. “This was a great event today,” he said, “being able to help these kids who can’t get some of these gifts all the time get some of what they did want for Christmas. And it helps the parents out as well, gets something to make their kids happy. The kids had big smiles on their face the whole day.”

Westbrook and a few of his teammates, though, did run into some downtime before the event got started, and they amused themselves by tracing their hands on the disposable tablecloth in front of them and autographing the handprint. Read more »

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Tuesday, November 24: The Likely New Kickoff Backfield

Posted by Matt Terl on November 24, 2009 – 12:35 pm

With the injury to Clinton Portis, Ladell Betts became the primary running back. This removed Betts from his duties as upback on kick returns and put Devin Thomas in that spot. Rock Cartwright, of course, remained as primary deep back return man.

With the injury to Betts, Cartwright becomes the primary running back. This moves Thomas to primary kick returner, and cornerback Byron Westbrook to upback.

At upback, Westbrook’s role is fairly straightforward. “Sometimes I make sure the closest guy doesn’t hit the returner,” he says. “Sometimes I actually have a specific person to hit or to block. So it’s just dependent on the type of coverage we’re running that game.”

But — despite the fact that he worked at return man during his first season with the team, when there were no designated speed guys in training camp — Westbrook says that he’s not secretly hoping for a short kick to show off his skills. “Not really,” he says. “They kick it short, I’m still gonna give Devin the chance. Sunday when they squib kicked, if I really wanted to go attack the ball and get it, I could have. But at the same I know that if I caught the ball, it would’ve been impossible for Devin to get in front of me to make that block. So if the ball can get to him, he’s always the first option.”

It helps that Westbrook seems completely confident in Thomas at kick returner. Read more »

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Scout Team Defense Color-Coordinates For Motivation

Posted by Matt Terl on October 8, 2009 – 4:39 pm

It’s been another zany one here at Redskins Park. Defensive coordinator Greg Blache is no longer speaking to the media, for what Coach Zorn describes as “personal reasons” and “a needed break”. Wide receiver Malcolm Kelly discussed a thumb injury, which Coach Zorn describes as “ongoing” and something that the receiver has played with. A scant two or three sentences later, Zorn talked about how Devin Thomas is “coming on.” Thomas has looked good in practice — better the last two weeks than he has in quite some time, honestly — but saying that he’s “coming on” feels a little premature at this point.

As I mentioned earlier, the team is watching some of the most unpleasant preseason football I can remember for motivation. And it turns out that the scout team defense has taken to color-coordinating their outfits as yet another motivational tool.

Read more »

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What Happened On Byron Westbrook's Punt Coverage

Posted by Matt Terl on September 17, 2009 – 4:45 pm

It’s been mentioned more than once that the Redskins had only four offensive plays in the first quarter of Sunday’s game in New Jersey. What hasn’t been discussed as much is what happened at the end of those four plays. It shows up pretty simply in the play-by-play: (5:04) 3-H.Smith punts 38 yards to end zone, Center-67-E.Albright, Touchback.

The person who is most clearly eliminated in that description is CB Byron Westbrook, who seemed to be in position to down the ball when it bounced at the 2-yard line, mistimed his jump, was still resettling from his jump when the ball landed again at about the 2-foot line, and was unable to stop the ball from rolling into the endzone.

It was a bummer of a play for Westbrook, playing in his first game on the active roster after spending last season on the practice squad. The move to the active roster was a big deal for Westbrook. “It was a goal that I set out for myself before the season,” he told me, “and I definitely accomplished it, but it was just one of the many goals that I set for myself, so now I’ve gotta continue making plays on special teams.”

And he did contribute a couple tackles on kick and punt coverage; unfortunately, the more memorable special teams play was the one he didn’t make on that first punt.

“I just mistimed my jump,” Westbrook said simply. “As a punt goes down — and the football is already oddly shaped — you’ve just gotta judge the jump. I didn’t expect the ball to go up that high, and so when I did jump, I just mistimed it. Those plays are gonna be there all year, so next time I’ll make the play, make it happen.”

What interested me was how some of the other special teams aces on the team would respond to this. Would they sympathize with Westbrook? Criticize him? Mock him outright?
Read more »

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Cornerbacks Do Push-Ups

Posted by Matt Terl on July 30, 2009 – 1:20 pm

Last year, the defensive backs had a bit of a rough time holding on to interceptions and, well, it certainly seemed like everyone noticed. Carlos Rogers definitely got the worst of it (see here, here and here for examples), but when DeAngelo Hall signed midseason and immediately picked off Tony Romo, it was definitely a change from what we’d been seeing.

The old joke is that if they could catch, they’d be playing at wide receiver, but … the defense only had 13 picks last year, and that’s exactly the sort of big play they’re hoping to see more of in 2009. So every time a cornerback drops a ball in drills, he has to drop and give ten push-ups.

“You drop a ball, you do push-ups,” Fred Smoot said. “Point-blank, that’s where we going out there.” But this wasn’t just one of those things where Smoot was joking around about it after the fact — it’s also his idea. “I’m the oldest guy in the secondary,” he explained. “I just feel like we dropped too many chances last year — if we just pick off the ball we had chances to pick off, we’d’ve been top in the NFL. So now we gonna keep it going, and hopefully we’ll hold on to all these balls.” Read more »

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Some Redskins Comment on The Acquisitions; Then There's Rocky McIntosh

Posted by Matt Terl on February 27, 2009 – 12:23 pm

Even though the activity level in the building is much higher than it has been, and even though the media presence has increased enormously (from “zero” to “a whole lot”), there still aren’t that many players here. Still, it seemed worthwhile to see if any of them had anything interesting to say about last night’s two big signings.

Mostly, no.

Kedric Golston was excited about Albert Haynesworth, his new defensive linemate:


(That’s Intern Bridgette asking the question, by the way — I haven’t undergone a startling and unexpected voice change.)

Chris Samuels was also enthusiastic about Haynesworth, but you couldn’t hear him on the video with Golston shouting in the background. Read more »

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Wednesday, February 11: Two Transactions

Posted by Matt Terl on February 11, 2009 – 11:04 am

Well, the 2009 coaching staff appears to be complete, barring some sort of unexpected shakeup, with the signing today of Chip Garber as the defensive quality control coach, replacing Arthur Smith (who departed for a career in the military).

Like new tight ends coach Scott Wachenheim, this hire has a very Jim Zorn feel to it: a coach with long experience (28 years!) at slightly unusual places (Hamilton Tiger-Cats! Hofstra Pride! North Texas Mean Green!), including some overlap with Zorn himself (defensive backs coach with the Minnesota Golden Gophers while Zorn was the QB coach there). Garber also has local ties, coming from Winchester, Virginia, and having gone to college at the University of Maryland. Read more »

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