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Friday, January 1: Devin Thomas Bids Farewell To 2009

Posted by Matt Terl on January 1, 2010 – 12:07 pm

Devin Thomas hasn’t been practicing this week, which means — unofficially — that he seems pretty unlikely to play in San Diego Sunday. Which means that his season is over and that it’s just about time for him to, as he said yesterday, “look forward to the offseason, whatever comes forth, and make things happen in the OTAs and everything, and get ready for the new season next year.”

But more interesting that the athlete-speak musings about what he had to do moving forward were his ruminations on the year that was coming to an end. Read more »

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Toys For Tots: Fred Smoot, Chris Wilson, and Devin Thomas Debate Big Wheels

Posted by Matt Terl on December 4, 2009 – 3:01 pm

As the holiday season marches inexorably forward, folks attending this Sunday’s game at FedExField are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate to Toys For Tots. With that in mind, I figured I’d ask around the locker room for some toy suggestions. (What the heck, it worked out with children’s books — twice.)

I made it as far as Fred Smoot and Chris Wilson. Once those two got revved up and going, it didn’t matter who tried to interject … as Devin Thomas discovered.

“My favorite toy as a kid,” Smoot began, “had to go between the Big Wheel — I had this Dukes Of Hazzard Big Wheel with the brake on the back, right? [NOTE: That’s it pictured to the right.] I would go fast as I could, hit the brake, spin around. So the Big Wheel was one of my greatest, but I also loved the Etch-A-Sketch. I couldn’t draw a lick, but with that Etch-A-Sketch, I could make a million, just goin’ around, making my cousin mad [by] paintin’ ugly pictures of her. You know, Etch-A-Sketch is a powerful toy.”

Wilson was getting dressed at his nearby locker and overheard the end of the conversation, asked, “Etch-A-Sketch?”

“He asked me the favorite Christmas present I ever got,” Smoot said. “I told him my favorite was my Dukes of Hazzard Big Wheel.”

Wilson was thrilled by this. “I was ’bout to say the Big Wheel!”

“Yep,” Smoot said, “I’m ’bout to tell you why the Big Wheel is essential.”

Devin Thomas had heard enough. “Man,” he said, “not the Big Wheel. Power Wheel!”

Wilson and Smoot were appalled, Wilson nearly shouting, “No, no!” and Smoot adding “[Forget] the Power Wheel,” only, you know, not actually “forget”. 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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Guess Who Got This Week's Special Teams Hit Stick

Posted by Matt Terl on November 19, 2009 – 4:44 pm

Every game the Redskins win, special teams coach Danny Smith awards a “Hit Stick” to the player who delivered the most crushing shot on special teams coverage. The stick — which is an actual carved piece of wood that Smith acquired in Jamaica — then lives with that player until the next time it’s given out, sort of like a smaller-scale, woodier Stanley Cup.

Can you guess who got the Hit Stick this week? Hint — it’s the person who said the following: “We have a Hit Stick every week that everyone’s trying to get. So guys like H.B. [Blades], me, Mike [Sellers], Chris Wilson, are always trying to make that hit. And this week happened to be my number.”

So obviously it’s not Blades, Sellers, or Wilson (although you can read an entertaining account of Wilson’s time last year with the Hit Stick over at the DC Sports Bog). Here’s another hint:


Okay, that was less a “hint” than a “video of the Hit Stick-winning play,” but whatever. Lorenzo Alexander is your Hit Stick winner this week for the hit that nearly sparked a riot at Tuesday’s charity event.

“Danny’s always preaching ‘Same foot, same shoulder, more power,'” Sellers said about the play. “Well, in Lamont Jordan’s case, that didn’t work out too well.” (Sellers claims that he “got tired of” winning the Hit Stick and leaves that stuff to guys like Alexander now.)

Rock Cartwright was also a fan of Alexander’s hit. “I watched it on film here AND I watched at home,” Cartwright said. “That was a MAMMOTH of a hit. It was crazy, because all I heard was a ‘BOOM,’ like somebody shot a gun or something. Next thing you know I see Devin [Thomas] jumping around, and I see Lamont Jordan on the ground. That was a big time hit.”
Read more »

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Tuesday, November 3: Time For Young Guys To Step Up

Posted by Matt Terl on November 3, 2009 – 8:55 am

Last year, as the 2008 season wound down and the Redskins seemed unable to get themselves back in the win column on a consistent basis, head coach Jim Zorn was emphatic about playing his starters to the very end. Every week, reporters (and emailers, and blog commenters) would ask about getting more playing time for the then-rookies, and every week Zorn stuck to his guns.

As Sunday’s game against the Falcons approaches, it appears that this year will be different; this next game is shaping up to be a flashpoint for this year’s rookie class AND the largely-underachieving crew from 2008.

In some cases, such as rookies CB Kevin Barnes, LB Robert Henson, and FB Eddie Williams, this is because of injury, not by design. With H.B. Blades and Byron Westbrook out this week following surgeries, Barnes and Henson are getting more work in practice, Zorn said yesterday.

“I know Henson and Barnes are both getting reps,” he told the media after practice. “There is going to be a lot of conversation before I make the final decision on inactives this week. It will be because of Eddie [Williams] coming up, Quinton [Ganther] still developing … Barnes, Henson, with two tight ends, less offensive linemen and more defensive linemen, I am not really sure where I am headed yet. I couldn’t put it together for you but they will be under consideration for sure.”

At this point, all of this year’s draft picks that remain with the team are currently signed to the active roster, and they all have a chance to be active on Sunday. (And, before anyone asks, I haven’t heard any news about more playing time for Marko Mitchell this week.)

But it’s not just this year’s rookies that find themselves at a potential crossroads; the big three from last year — Fred Davis, Devin Thomas, and Malcolm Kelly — also need to represent in Atlanta.

Read more »

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Kickoff Coverage Has A Spot For Everyone

Posted by Matt Terl on October 16, 2009 – 4:27 pm

Over at the Washington Times, David Elfin has a solid story today on the impact H.B. Blades and Reed Doughty are having this season on the Redskins special teams, in which Blades says, “People think special teams is a bunch of crazy guys running downfield, but there’s a lot of preparation and film study.”

This is true.

But after ALL that study is done, it all tends to come down to a bunch of crazy guys running downfield. That run downfield, though, is not the unorganized melee that some people believe. Each of those guys starts in a specific, numbered position — from 1 to 5 on each side of the kicker — and each of those positions has a specific responsibility on the play.

And all of the aforementioned crazy guys have a favorite spot in the lineup.
Read more »

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Devin Thomas: "Feels Good To Get Back There"

Posted by Matt Terl on August 29, 2009 – 1:13 am

Devin Thomas
was in the locker room looking aggravated. This was not an entirely bad thing — this time, it wasn’t because of his performance in the game, which he graded out at “a solid B,” but because he was standing in an enormous pile of talcum powder.

Read more »

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Sunday, August 16: Morning Practice – Marko Mitchell Gets Into It Again

Posted by Matt Terl on August 16, 2009 – 1:44 pm

Morning practice in full pads today, the first such practice since Thursday night’s loss to the Ravens. Practices in pads are always higher-tempo than practices in shorts and shells; that’s just the nature of the thing. But today’s seemed especially high-energy. The running backs were running with burst — it’s the first time I’ve really noticed Domonique Dorsey‘s natural speed translating to the football field — and, as always, the linemen’s 1-on-1 drills were pretty vigorous.

And all of that was before Marko Mitchell and DeAngelo Hall started going at it. “It’s hot out there,” Mitchell said. “I held DHall a little bit. He got a little frustrated and got mad, and then we got into a little scuffle.”

This is the second such scrum for Mitchell — you might remember that he also got into it with Fred Smoot at the Fan Appreciation Day scrimmage. Which seemed odd, because he comes across a perfectly pleasant, friendly guy, someone with a genuine smile who’s not entirely used to the level of fame that comes with being in the NFL.. Read more »

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Leftovers From Today

Posted by Matt Terl on August 4, 2009 – 7:14 pm

Just some last notes, links, pictures and what-not from today. Click to enlarge the pictures.

That’s head coach Jim Zorn and running back Clinton Portis, hanging out talking before practice. I have no idea what they were discussing, but it went on for some time. Also, it looked perfectly normal and cordial. I put this up just because I don’t think we hear nearly enough about the times that Zorn and CP just kinda shoot the breeze. Read more »

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Devin Thomas Helps to Close Down Vibe Magazine

Posted by Matt Terl on August 3, 2009 – 7:18 pm

The final issue of Vibe Magazine hits newsstands this month, and Devin Thomas is featured in a couple of pictures in a spread pairing NFLers with female R&B stars. Here’s one of Thomas and his back tattoo, minus any female R&B stars.

More in the magazine, or over at TheYBF.com. Read more »

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