Mini Camp Report: Day 2

A couple years ago all the talk centered on the linebackers. A big name resided at each position, with Jeremiah Trotter, LaVar Arrington and Jessie Armstead. But one is gone, another will follow and there's no longer any talk about this group being dominant. Yet this group could be very good, starting in the middle with Michael Barrow. He was a solid player in New York.

He won't make a ton of highlight plays, but there's no need for that. He'll make the plays that need to be made and do his job. That's a welcomed change in the middle.

It's why defensive coordinator Gregg Williams likes him. Williams coached him for four seasons as the linebackers coach in Tennessee. ''He's one of the smartest guys I've had the opportunity to coach,'' Williams said. ''We handed him the playbook less than a week ago and he came back to camp and knows it probably as well as the guys who have been here a month. That's how smart he is and how serious he takes his job. Coach Gibbs talks about being students of the game. Here's a guy who comes in and backs up being a student of the game. He's one of the best game plan preparation guys I've been around. He'll teach young guys how to watch film and understand opponents. He's very valuable to what we're doing.''

. . . The offensive linemen have a new drill, one that's commonly used in baseball. Coach Joe Bugel rolls a softball from one side to another as the player shuffles back and forth, grabbing it and tossing it back to Bugel. Just another drill to emphasize footwork.

. . . The linemen also spend a lot of time on drills where they must stay low and punch with their hands.

. . . In one drill, the linebackers had to backpeddle, then break on a ball thrown near them. Nobody looked as smooth doing this as LaVar Arrington, who looked like a tight end grabbing the ball.

. . .Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams bristled when asked about Arrington playing defensive end.

''He's going to be a defensive player. One thing I'm concerned about is do we want to tell the Giants right now? Do we want to tell the Cowboys right now? Maybe he plays free safety.''

. . . The Redskins installed 124 pages of their defensive playbook Friday, another 45 today and plan to do another 40 to 50 Sunday.

. . . The Ralph Brown watch has begun. Didn't like him in the past and haven't seen much to like, at least not yet. He grabbed and tugged at O'Neil Wilson's jersey on one route. The tryout receiver had beaten him pretty good.

. . . Joe Bugel on what he likes about Chris Cooley: ''Athleticism. He was the leading receiver at that position in the country. One thing that was impressive was the run after the catch. He didn't get tackled as soon as caught the ball. He could make people miss and that was a determining factor. He was quick to make that move and be able to run over the defender.''

. . . Wilson keeps getting open, at least against lesser corners. Still not sure if he's played well enough to earn an invite to training camp.

. . . The defensive back who has looked good at times: rookie Garnell Wilds from Virginia Tech. In a couple one-on-one drills he did an excellent job in coverage, easily stopping receivers like John Standeford and then against Wilson. It's a start.

. . . Safety Ifeanyi Ohalete continues to break well on the ball. He broke up a pass this afternoon, tipping it in the air. Fred Smoot made a diving grab, bounced up and ran for about 20 yards. Naturally Smoot didn't say anything about the play.

. . . Rod Gardner toasted Shawn Springs on a deep corner route.

. . . When the defense started blitzing, the backs took it as a challenge. Some complained a little on the sidelines so running backs coach Earnest Byner told them, ''Don't let them come back there! They're making us look bad so let's make them look bad. They want to play like that? Let's go! Pick it up!''

A few minutes later Ladell Betts blocked rushing linebacker Billy Strother hard, prompting Byner to shout, ''There you go! There you go!''

. . . Best catch of the day: Receiver Gari Scott grabbed a pass after getting hit by corner Rashad Bauman then falling to the ground. Scott kept his concentration.

. . . Jon Jansen and Cory Raymer both played for Russ Grimm. Now, having spent some time under Joe Bugel, they see where Grimm got most of his stuff. And they can now look back and see Bugel's influence.

''To play in Washington is special,'' Jansen said. ''And to play for a coach like Joe Bugel and be part of his history is an honor as well.''

. . . Receiver James Thrash missed practice because his infant child had to be taken to the hospital. Thrash returned to the facility this evening so we're assuming his baby is OK. Let's hope.

. . . Numbergate continues: Clinton Portis said he's moving up in the number chain, wearing No. 6 this time after donning No. 3 last minicamp.

''I hope by the time the season starts to be in the 20s,'' he said.

As for attempts to get No. 26 . . . ''Negotiations have stalled,'' Portis said. It doesn't seem that Ifeanyi Ohalete will be giving up that number any time soon.

. . . And how's this for numbers: two players were given Bruce Smith's old No. 78 -- defensive tackle Cedric Killings and offensive lineman Quinn Christensen.

. . . I love watching Chad Morton get the ball in the open field. His presence makes me wonder how the Redskins will consider him. Will he count against the running back total? Or will he just be the special teams guy. It appears they might only keep three running backs (no more need for a fullback). That would mean Rock Cartwright and Trung Canidate could be in trouble.

. . .Guard Dave Fiore is not ready to think about retirement, despite his knees still not being 100 percent.

''Right now I'm focused on returning,'' Fiore said. ''And that's it. I've never quit anything.''

. . . First in line in the barbecue tent near the field: Randy Thomas. As usual.

. . . We once again apologize for the lack of audio updates. The wind has been bad enough to make it difficult to record anything.


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