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Aldrick Robinson Still A Work In Progress

Posted by Brian Tinsman on August 31, 2011 – 5:15 pm

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This year might go down as one of the hardest years ever for a rookie to make a roster.  From the lack of OTA’s, to the inability to learn the playbooks early, and dramatically expanded rosters, the odds are stacked against inexperience.

But none of these reasons are an excuse for Aldrick Robinson, who knows that he fumbled away his opportunities early in the preseason.

“I’m not making the most of the chances I’m given,” he said.  “I don’t feel like I had a good camp, not a good preseason either, so hopefully I can turn it back around.”

Part of the explanation is a change in culture.

Born and raised in Waxahachie, Texas, Robinson was the big fish in a small pond through high school.  He was a two-sport athlete, and his speed allowed him to excel at pretty much anything on the gridiron.  At Southern Methodist University, he was a top receiving threat against other Conference USA opponents.

This is his first extended stay outside of Texas, and Washington is a long way from home.

“I like the weather here–I actually like the weather right now,” he said a few days after Hurricane Irene.  “But some of the food places aren’t the same. Late at night I like to go to Whataburger but y’all don’t have that.  Then Burger King isn’t open 24 hours a day down here, and Popeyes closes at 11 where as in Texas it closes at 12.”

These aren’t huge complaints, clearly, but it adds up.

“I gotta eat earlier to do what I want,” he said, shaking his head.  “I like the living though, everything is nice.” Read more »

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A Snap-Shot Of Training Camp Competitions

Posted by Ross Leonhart on August 6, 2011 – 9:01 pm

With thousands of fans on hand for Fan Appreciation Day at Redskins Park, I took my up close view to try to capture some things the folks from the hill couldn’t see.

Suited up in their full upper-body pads, it was the first day of full-contact practice.  No more slap and hug tackles, break out some ferocity:

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The Danny Smith Show

Posted by Brian Tinsman on August 5, 2011 – 6:33 pm

AP Image

Ever wonder what you’re missing in afternoon Redskins coverage?

Easily the most entertaining part of afternoon walk-throughs, is watching–and listening to–special teams coordinator Danny Smith.  Smith has a voice that carries well, and he loves to hold court with his players.

One of the things he called for this afternoon during special teams drills was his “all-rookie team.”  With 25 rookies in camp right now, that’s not hard to envision.

The advice that he yelled out to his players as they lined up was, “Your first play in the NFL could be right here.  We put you out there, ’cause we know you can do it.”

And that is the extent of the excitement from today’s afternoon walk-through.

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Danny Smith And Bruce Boudreau Are Pals

Posted by Matt Terl on April 21, 2011 – 3:46 pm

Well, this is something that I didn’t know: Redskins special teams coach Danny Smith and Washington Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau are good friends. I’ve seen (and written about) Boudreau and Caps players attending Redskins games, but this was news to me. Fortunately, Smith showed up on Comcast SportsNet with Chick Hernandez and Julie Donaldson prior to Friday night’s Game Two in the current playoff series and explained how that friendship started up — and what the two coaches actually talk about, among other things.


“I contacted him, actually, to get an opportunity to meet with him and just discuss about how he does with players and things like that,” Smith explained. “And then a co-worker of y’all’s, Eric Schuster, set up a lunch, and we all went to lunch. Just picking each other’s brain as two coaches and how you deal with players. Different uses of video equipment, different strategies in different situations as it pertains to each sport, so it was a great meeting and he I have become great friends ever since.”

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Danny Smith Considers Punting Prospects, Including Larry Michael

Posted by Matt Terl on April 7, 2011 – 11:14 am

Take a look at the picture above. You can tell from the gold pants that it’s from last season, and it’s pretty clearly someone punting the ball … but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if you couldn’t tell me the guy’s name. Four guys punted the ball last year (although one of them was kicker Graham Gano being pressed into emergency duty) and none of them exactly stood out.

Josh Bidwell punted in three games, with a net average of 37.7 yards and 3 punts inside the 20. Gano, in his one fill-in game, punted four times and saw one of them blocked. Hunter Smith punted in nine games in relief of Bidwell, and finished with a net average of 33.7 yards, one return TD against, and 17 punts pinned inside the 20. And Sam Paulescu — he’s the one pictured above, in case you really were unsure — punted 17 times in the last three games of the season for a net average of 33.1 yards.

Nothing catastrophic, but certainly no punter that serves as field-flipping weapon, either. So when special teams coach Danny Smith appeared on Redskins Nation, Larry Michael asked the obvious question: who would be punting for the Redskins next season?

Smith’s answer certainly seems to indicate that the team is casting a pretty wide net. “If you could punt, Larry, we’ll give you an opportunity,” Smith said. “I mean, we’ll take anybody in this building to go out there. We’ve had seven punters in two years. That’s unbelievable. We had three punters in ’09, we used four punters this year if you count the game with Graham Gano in the St. Louis game. I mean, we had four punters punt in the National Football League for the Washington Redskins this year. That’s unheard of.”

It’s a theme that Smith would return to again later, in a way that doesn’t exactly serve as a ringing endorsement for Paulescu. “We’ll take anybody at this point,” Smith said, “because I think anything would be an improvement, to be quite honest with you. I really do. But you’d like to get a veteran who has some games under his belt.”

Mildly amusing answers aside, Smith is keenly aware of exactly how important this issue is.

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Danny Smith On The New Kickoff Rules

Posted by Matt Terl on April 5, 2011 – 10:47 am

It’s understandable that special teams coach Danny Smith would have some strong feelings on the new kickoff rules. On the one hand, his teams have always excelled at kickoff coverage — something that’s going to change dramatically when the spot of the kick moves to the 35 yard line. The other side of the equation is no good for Smith either: he’s finally got a potentially gamebreaking return man in Brandon Banks, and suddenly the league has moved to reduce the chances of a gamebreaking return.

Smith recently sat down with Larry Michael on Redskins Nation, and took the opportunity to explain exactly how the changes would affect the Redskins special teams units — and if you’ve ever heard Danny Smith talk, you know it wasn’t boring. (If you’re in the DMV, you can catch a second part of the interview on today’s show at 5:30 and 11:30.)

“It’s gonna have quite an impact, I think,” Smith tells Michael. “Just to give you-without boring you with a lot of facts and figures-17 percent of kickoffs were touchbacks last year. 39 percent of kickoffs touched the endzone last year, so they’re decision-making ones – do I bring ’em out, do I not bring ’em out.

“Now if you move it up five [yards], those numbers are obviously gonna increase. So there’s gonna be some kickers that just kick it out of the endzone and you’re not going to get an opportunity to return. And there’s others that you don’t mind kicking to. Everybody in this league is a quality returner, obviously, or they don’t make it to this level. But some are better than others. So there’s some strategy involved in this decision, as well, for special teams coaches, in my mind, of who you wanna kick to and who you don’t. Or do you have a guy that can knock it out of the endzone, or knock it 7, 8, 10 yards deep?”

Which all makes a lot of sense, but is also pretty general. So how will it affect it the Redskins in particular? Read more »

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Danny Smith Looking For The Best Guy

Posted by Matt Terl on August 15, 2010 – 5:31 pm

When the Redskins added long snapper James Dearth to the roster today, I just sort of naturally assumed that it had meant the release of long snapper Nick Sundberg. This, as you can see from the picture above, was incorrect. “You know, you feel good about veterans,” special teams coach Danny Smith explained, “but I’m not opposed to a rookie if he can do it. All we did was establish competition at the position and we’ll keep the best guy.”

A number of people have asked me if the team has considered bringing back longtime long snapper Ethan Albright, so I put that question to Coach Smith. Read more »

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Specialists Receive Mixed Reviews

Posted by Matt Terl on August 4, 2010 – 2:10 pm

Today was the first practice day that actually FELT like training camp, at least from the oppressive-heat-and-humidity standpoint. A whole mess of players — including Santana Moss, London Fletcher, Clinton Portis, Joey Galloway, Larry Johnson, and Jammal Brown — were given the day off to rest, and watched their teammates from the sidelines. Albert Haynesworth wasn’t practicing today, and I can only hope that some intrepid media outlet will find out why not. As a result, the practice felt a little sluggish at points, a little ragged at others.

The most interesting part, in fact, came afterwards. Special teams coach and all-around excellent talker Danny Smith held court for a bit, and in the process gave the end-of-week-1 reviews of his three specialists. And those reviews were decidedly mixed.

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Danny Smith Talks After Practice

Posted by Matt Terl on August 19, 2009 – 6:17 pm

The most interesting information from Coach Danny Smith’s post-special-teams-practice talk this afternoon was probably that the two kickers are going to be splitting time again during Saturday’s game, but listening to Smith talk isn’t always about specific bits of information. He’s one of the most entertaining speakers on the team, and you can get at least a little bit of the flavor of that from this video of today’s talk, courtesy of Redskins.com TV.


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About The Cooley Punting Thing….

Posted by Matt Terl on August 12, 2009 – 5:21 pm

I caught up with special teams coordinator Danny Smith on his way out the door, ready to board the buses and head to the team hotel. But I’ve received enough emails about Chris Cooley being listed as the #2 punter on the team’s depth chart that I had to ask Smith for at least a quick comment.

Smith, never at a loss for words, answered immediately: “If Cooley gets in there to punt, look for me on the sidelines in a trenchcoat and sunglasses, trying to be in disguise.”

Soooo … probably not something to watch for, then. Read more »

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