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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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Fred Smoot Explains His Hand Gesture, Sort Of

Posted by Matt Terl on August 29, 2009 – 12:49 am

For as much time as I spend on this blog writing about Fred Smoot — his hypothetical reality show, his bad suit award, his jawing at Marko Mitchell and everything else — it’s easy to sometimes forget that he’s actually a pretty solid football player. He finished tonight with two tackles (and one assist) along with two passes defensed, and had more of an impact than those numbers would seem to indicate. Read more »

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Friday, August 28: The Dead Man Suit Award

Posted by Matt Terl on August 28, 2009 – 9:20 am

In the run-up to this year’s Welcome Home Luncheon, I talked to a few of the guys about their memories of last year’s event. They gave the answers I expected: good to meet the fans, great way to kick off the season, and so on.

Not one of the mentioned what is apparently one of the biggest draws of the day: the Dead Man Suit award.

Since Rocky McIntosh was the first one to spill the beans, on his Twitter feed Wednesday night, I’ll mash together a few of his updates here and let him explain what the award is about:

Dead Man Suit Awards..its givin to the player who wears a ugly 1960’s suit that looks like they stole it from a body at the graveyard. Past 2 yr winners were Andre Carter(sorry) and most recent Justin Tryon…Rick James was left freezing in his grave last yr cuz of this guy. Who will b next??? Stay tuned….. I will have flowers for this years winner.

And then this, from the bus on the way to the event:

Omg there r 2 many contestants for this years dead man suit awards.it’s going 2 be funny to see who wins we might have a repeat award winner. From d lineman to kickers nobody safe were checking all funeral homes for break-ins cuz we have suspects right here on the team……

At the event itself, I started asking who was likely to “win”; a lot of candidates were mentioned (Anthony Alridge and Eddie Williams being the most-suggested), but everyone said the final decision came down to one guy: Fred Smoot. Read more »

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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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Potential Redskins Reality Shows

Posted by Matt Terl on August 20, 2009 – 3:30 pm

I will give you one guess how this one ends.

Anyhow, once I got over being completely and utterly dumbfounded that Santana Moss is a fan of Gossip Girl, the conversation moved on to his other favorite TV genre: reality shows. It would’ve been easy enough to let the subject drop, but in honor of the season premieres of Top Chef (which I watch) and Project Runway (which I don’t) — along with the fascinating experiment in psychological torture that is this season of Big Brother — I figured I’d press for some details.

“I’m a fan of a lot of reality shows for sure, man,” Moss said. “I also watch the E! Channel a lot. I watch the Kardashian show, I used to watch the Girls Next Door show. I watch all that crazy stuff, man. It’s just reality TV, you know? It’s stuff that’s going on right now and that — you can tell some of it they’re probably acting on certain parts, but some it’s just their life, you know? Their reality. So I be tuning in to see what’s going on with them.”

So the obvious question, when an NFL wide receiver tells you he’s a fan of reality shows, is: have you ever considered getting one of your own?
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Fred Smoot Talks About Playing Safety

Posted by Matt Terl on August 16, 2009 – 2:24 pm

Fred Smoot
has been getting the occasional look at safety this preseason, including some time during Thursday night’s game against the Ravens. Being Fred Smoot, he has accepted these additional responsibilities with the quiet assurance you’ve come to expect. “”I’m just smart, man,” he said today. “You have to realize that I’m the oldest DB and I’m the smartest. So Coach feels like putting me in there sometimes can help because I can line everybody up.” He shrugged. “Just a lot of knowledge back there.”

Watching the defensive backs — and listening to them tease each other push-ups and dropped interceptions and the like — I had always assumed there was a slightly internicene rivalry there, but Smoot brushes that concern aside. “It’s a whole different mindset and a whole different skill set,” he says, “So I wouldn’t say it was a rivalry. We work together too much to say it’s a rivalry.”
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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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Sunday, August 9: Fred Smoot, Disciplinarian

Posted by Matt Terl on August 9, 2009 – 8:24 am

Seventh-round draft pick WR Marko Mitchell was one of the offensive bright spots during yesterday’s scrimmage, catching three passes for 32 yards. And he was characteristically humble about this. “I think I did a good job out there,” he said, “think I could’ve done a little bit more.”

He also was one of the bravest guys on the field, not because he took a whole lot of big hits — although he did — but because he made one of the most ambitious decisions any player on a football field can make: he started yapping with Fred Smoot. Read more »

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Afternoon Practice – Coach Fred Smoot?

Posted by Matt Terl on August 3, 2009 – 5:50 pm

Things finally seemed to come together for the offense a little bit during this afternoon’s practice. Jason Campbell was getting rid of the ball quicker, the receivers were mostly doing a great job hauling it in, and everything just looked a little crisper on the offensive side of things.

Of course that means that the defense was — by definition — looking less effective. (Or, as someone observed to me yesterday, “When DeAngelo Hall intercepts the ball in practice and the crowd goes nuts, does that mean that they’re excited Jason Campbell threw a pick?”) But there’s a lot more leeway for the defense to look a little less effective — and, of course, Albert Haynesworth was held out of today’s practice.

The question of this training camp thus far has been “Is the defense that good, or is the offense struggling?” It’s starting to look more and more like the defense might just be that good.

Also out again were Anthony Montgomery (sore knee), Carlos Rogers (calf), and Roydell Williams, who had surgery on his fractured pinkie.

Like yesterday, Campbell’s best pass of the day was a 50-plus yard bomb that hit his receiver in the hands. Like yesterday, his receiver — Antwaan Randle El this time — dropped it.

But the most interesting thing I saw in practice today was Fred Smoot, still acting as a sort of de facto cornerbacks coach on the sideline. Five days into training camp and we’ve hardly heard from Smoot at all, which has to be some kind of a record.

I caught up with Smoot to get his thoughts on the defensive backfield and his new role, but I had to start by asking why he’d been so quiet.

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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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