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Edwin Williams Gets To Live His Dream (But Can't Understand Casey Rabach)

Posted by Matt Terl on November 23, 2009 – 5:02 pm

Getting to live your childhood dream isn’t the kind of thing that just happens to people. Say, as a purely hypothetical example, that you’re a kid who went to school at DeMatha and grew up rooting for the Redskins. You played football at the nearby University of Maryland, but went undrafted in the NFL.

Even if some team wants you, there’s no guarantee it’ll be the one you rooted for as a kid.

Even if that team does want you, there’s no reason to assume you’ll make the roster.

Even if you do make the roster, you probably won’t ever be active on gameday.

Even if you are active on gameday, the odds against you actually playing are still pretty slim.

And even if you do play, it’s probably not going to be against your favorite team’s biggest rival on the turf of their brand new stadium. I mean, that kind of thing just doesn’t happen.

Except to Edwin Williams, I guess.

“I feel like sometimes somebody’s writing my story for me, you know,” Williams said today. “The only thing that could be different is that I just wish we could’ve won that game yesterday. It’s different watching the game, but when you get into it, it hurts even worse.”

Much to his surprise, Williams even managed to avoid butterflies when he was called into action, at least initially. “To be honest, I wasn’t nervous at all, strangely enough,” he said. “I’m usually Mister Anxiety, but I wasn’t nervous at all until I got to the huddle and everybody was like, ‘You got to go out there and punch people in the face!’ all this, ‘play hard, keep your head back!’ All this stuff.”

He stopped for a beat, remembering. “Then I was like, ‘Okay, I’m nervous now.'”
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Hunter Smith Did Not Have Faith In Shaun Suisham As A Receiver

Posted by Matt Terl on November 16, 2009 – 3:00 pm

Hey, maybe you heard somewhere that punter Hunter Smith threw a touchdown pass yesterday? It’s true!

You’ve probably also heard by now that Smith was a multiple-position threat at Sherman High School, including quarterback — “I was a better receiver than anything, and went to college as that,” he said after the game, before settling into much more standard athlete-speak. “I just count myself as a punter who happened to be healthy enough to be on the field and threw a ball.”

But you may not have realized that — because the play started in field goal formation –kicker Shaun Suisham was running a route as a receiver on the play. Which is not to say that he was a valid check-down option, of course. Read more »

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Monday, November 16: When Does The Offensive Line Stop Being Makeshift

Posted by Matt Terl on November 16, 2009 – 11:24 am

For weeks now, any discussion of the Redskins offensive line has been prefaced with the word “makeshift”. Between guys being lost to injury and guys being shuttled from position to position in relief, there’s been very little continuity on a unit that — according to conventional NFL wisdom — thrives on continuity.

Of course, no one has particularly WANTED to see continuity in an offensive line that seemed at times to be actively forcing Jason Campbell to run for his life, and that Clinton Portis had been unable to run behind. But that changed yesterday, when the combination of mid-season free-agent acquisition Levi Jones, season-long starters Derrick Dockery and Casey Rabach, 2008 third-round draft pick Chad Rinehart, and roving lineman Stephon Heyer finally seemed to click.

This group managed to go through the entire game together, surrendering just three sacks (all in the second half) and opening holes for the Redskins backup running backs to rush for 174 yards against what had been the eighth-ranked rushing defense coming into the game. So I found myself asking when people could stop using the word “makeshift” to describe these guys. Read more »

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The Revamped Offensive Line Is Cautiously Optimistic

Posted by Matt Terl on October 14, 2009 – 11:26 am

If I had to characterize the mood of the locker room today — and I did, actually, when we were taping Redskins Nation for Comcast SportsNet — I’d call it “frustrated.” Not with each other, per se, and not with the coaches. Not with the media, either (Mike Sellers‘s mildly amusing quote notwithstanding).

They just seem frustrated with not winning. This is a team that is firmly convinced — rightly or not — that they’re underperforming and failing to execute. Read more »

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Mike Williams Contemplates Moving Back To Tackle, Away From Casey Rabach

Posted by Matt Terl on October 12, 2009 – 2:07 pm

Head coach Jim Zorn really didn’t waste much time getting to the most newsworthy part of his press conference today, and he didn’t need any prompting to get there.

“The guy that I’m concerned about is Chris Samuels,” Zorn said, after explaining that Phillip Daniels is expected to be able to play despite his torn biceps. “[Samuels] got an MRI; he’s been playing with a stenosis, which is a narrowing — that was three or four years ago, this is something that he’s been playing with; you know, he’s got that big [neck roll] thing to protect himself. But he got popped and he got some tingling and we’re just checking this out. So right now, he will NOT be available to play next week, just to quiet this thing down.”

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Wednesday, September 16: Good News, Bad News From Casey Rabach

Posted by Matt Terl on September 16, 2009 – 9:56 am

Bad news first. I mentioned that I had given Casey Rabach a Flip Camera to get some players-eye-view-video of the trip to New Jersey last weekend. This usually yields twenty minutes of amusing but unusable footage, two minutes of quality behind-the-scenes stuff, and an entire weekend of hassled misery for poor Ethan Albright. This weekend, though, for a variety of reasons, Rabach wasn’t able to get anything. Sad.

The good news is that Rabach has promised to take the camera again on a future road trip and actually use it at that point.

Also, he was excited to show me the stickers that his friend back home had made up for him. It’s not every center in the league who has his own logo and car sticker. All things being equal, I’d still rather have the video.

Open locker room later today, practice this afternoon, as the team officially gets to the business of moving past Sunday’s loss and preparing for the Rams.

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Inside Redskins Park: The Lunchroom Suggestion Board

Posted by Matt Terl on August 31, 2009 – 12:31 pm

The crowdsourcing trend has finally hit Redskins Park, in a somewhat unexpected spot: the dining room. Before last week, there was a line of chafing dishes containing an assortment of different main dishes, sides, starches, followed by a sandwich platter and usually a wrap or two, and a salad bar.

At some point this preseason, though, the catering company decided that it was time to solicit some opinions from their customers and a dry-erase board went up with the title “Requests From The Chef”. The suggestions have ranged from the quotidian (“chicken parmesan”; “flounder”) to the more exotic (“oxtail stew”) to the non-food-related (“rest”). I was curious about the oxtail stew, but had no way of narrowing down who would be interested in something like that.

But when “poutine” was written on the board one day, I could immediately narrow it down. Poutine — french fries covered with beef gravy and cheese curds — is a distinctly Canadian dish, so I knew we were looking at the Canadian Contingent: actual Canadian Shaun Suisham, and former CFL players Dominique Dorsey and Chris Wilson.

Dorsey had never even tried poutine. “I looked at it, and I was like, ‘What is that?’ People keep telling me to try it, but….” He trailed off. During his time in Canada, he stuck to tastes of home. “I just ate the regular stuff they had up there: KFC, Popeyes, and all that good stuff. I never branched off too much,” he said. “I know my limits.”
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Friday, August 21: A Horse Named Captain Chaos

Posted by Matt Terl on August 21, 2009 – 9:41 am

Now that the roughest grind of training camp has let up, I have a chance to go back and use some stuff that somehow fell through the cracks over the last few weeks. This is one such item.

I don’t know much about horses. I vaguely remember one stepping on my foot once at summer camp twenty-five years ago, but other than that, they’re big, mostly-inedible animals that run in circles three times a year and sometimes inspire unsettling outpourings of emotion from the general public. (NOTE: Parts of that assessment may not be entirely correct.)

But the people who do like horses tend to like them quite a lot, and they put tremendous thought into every aspect of their horses’ lives, from housing to cleaning to naming. So when Amanda Schroeder shouted from behind the ropes at training camp that she had a horse named after Chris Cooley, I was somewhat intrigued.

“I just love [Cooley],” Schroeder told me. “He’s my favorite player.”

The horse isn’t actually named Chris Cooley, but instead goes by the nom de horse of Captain Chaos. “He’s living up to his name now,” Schroeder said. “He was not like this before I named him Captain Chaos.”

This struck me as somewhat unusual. Nowhere on the About.com Guide to Choosing A Horse Name does it suggest “name your horse after your favorite athlete,” after all. So I asked Schroeder and the people she was with what other things one might name a horse after. The girl behind Schroeder shrugged. “I named mine after a movie: Blue Steel, like Zoolander.”

That didn’t make the Captain Chaos moniker seem any less unusual to me, so I did what I always do in these circumstances: I went straight to Fred Smoot. Read more »

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Thursday, August 20: More About The Goalpost Tapings

Posted by Matt Terl on August 20, 2009 – 8:28 am

The recent spate of rookie hazing prompted a little more concern from people than I thought it would. I was actually excited to see the hazing in the same way that I was a little pleased to see Marko Mitchell’s fights earlier in camp: these are things that show some spark, some fire, some liveliness beyond the basic nose-to-the-grind work ethic of training camp. I like them from a blogging perspective, yeah, but I’m also of the opinion that they’re good for team chemistry, too.

But it’s not my opinion that really matters.

“Absolutely it builds camaraderie,” London Fletcher told me, “because, you know, you’re in training camp. You’re out here working so hard, grinding, and it’s just a part of the whole experience, the training camp ritual that you pass down from year to year.”

Casey Rabach agreed. “It’s part of training camp, you know? Everybody kinda pays their dues, and that’s just one of ’em.”

Mike Sellers feels the same way, but also raised the larger question: “You know, Coach Zorn doesn’t believe in that stuff, and I don’t know how those guys got away with it. He made sure last year that the hazing stopped.” Which, obviously, has changed. Read more »

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Monday, July 27: Casey Rabach Needs A New RV For Training Camp

Posted by Matt Terl on July 27, 2009 – 12:19 pm

The law of unintended consequences is about to catch up with Casey Rabach.

When Rabach’s friend and offensive-linemate Jon Jansen was released (and signed with Detroit), Rabach took a philosophical,”that’s the way this business works” approach to the situation. Which made sense at the time, because … well, that’s the way this business works. But in just a couple of days, there will be a very physical, very tangible reminder of Jansen’s absence: no RV at training camp.

It had become a training camp tradition: Jansen would park an RV on the outskirts of the parking lot at Redskins park, and a select group of players — mainly offensive linemen — would use it as a mid-day escape from training camp.

“Jon brought his RV here, which was a Class A RV. It had satellite TV, air conditioning, bathroom facilities, kitchen facilities, and fridge. And during practices and time off, we’d all get out there, catch a snooze, catch a little movie time … it was just a place to kind of hang out and get away from football.”

Not having this getaway represents something of a problem for Rabach, so he’s determined to do something about it.

“I’m putting out some feelers here. I’m hoping there’s a die-hard Redskins fan out there that won’t be using their RV during training camp. And if so, if they want to lend it to some of their favorite Redskins — you know, me, Chris Cooley, some other guys that might be sprinkled in there — we’ll gently use it, keep it in immaculate shape, but maybe they can hook us up for an oasis away from camp. We’ll definitely have power out there, but a generator would also be nice in case, you know, we have problems.”

Rabach does not expect anyone to do this sort of thing out of the goodness of their hearts, though.
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