Thrash Fits Nicely With Gibbs

Maybe six or seven years ago before training camp -- I can't remember the season, but it doesn't matter -- I stopped down by the weight room at Redskins Park, hoping to talk to the strength coach. Most of the weights had already been packed and trucked to Frostburg State.

But, posted on the door, remained a telling sheet, one that charted the offseason participation in the weight room. Among the players who participated the least: receivers Albert Connell and Michael Westbrook.

One receiver, though, had near-perfect attendance: James Thrash.

That's why it's easy to see why Thrash remains in the league while Westbrook and Connell aren't. He worked harder than almost anyone else on the team. In many ways, he's a perfect Joe Gibbs player. Gibbs constantly mentions Art Monk's attendance record in offseason workouts; it's clearly important to the new/old coach.

And it's why the Redskins wanted Thrash for a second time, completing a trade with Philadelphia for a 2005 fifth-round pick. In Thrash, the Redskins get a quality player, one who can help on special teams and on offense.

He's not a No. 1 receiver and never should have been. He's much too mechanical as a wideout to scare re defenses. But as a No. 3, he'd be more than adequate, even if his reception totals have decreased each season with the Eagles.

Besides, he's not coming here to replace Laveranues Coles. Maybe not even Rod Gardner, though there is talk about a possible trade. On a sidenote, should they trade Gardner I'm not sure about elevating Darnerien McCants to a No. 2 role. The majority of his catches have come when he's faced a third corner or, in goal-line situations where he ran routes similar to a tight end, a safety or linebacker. He can help, but as a No. 2? And we haven't seen anything from Taylor Jacobs to suggest he'd be fine in that role either.

Back to Thrash.

I like that Thrash can help with special teams, too. In many ways he could become Patrick Johnson -- only much better. Johnson was a good special teamer who was limited offensively. Thrash is a good special teamer who can help more offensively.

Thrash is limited and clearly not one of the NFL's best receivers. He was, after all, traded for a future fifth-round pick. But for a guy like Thrash everything depends on the role he's asked to perform. I'm guessing in Washington he'll fill that role nicely.

This move also provides yet another glimpse into what's important to Gibbs. He values special teams and this is a move that will boost that unit. It will also help when the Redskins add another safety, allowing safety Ifeanyi Ohalete to once again be a key player on special teams, where he's a bigger help.

Clearly Gibbs understands that the Redskins must be competitive in each phase in order to win. In today's game, marked by tight contests, teams that have an edge in two of the three phases usually win. The Redskins are moving nicely in that direction.


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