The Keim Report:<BR> First Week Analysis

One week closer to the regular season. One week closer to the things that matter. One week closer to seeing what kind of magic Joe Gibbs has left. But before we go forward, let's look back at the first week.

Best sight: the aggressiveness of the defense. It could be the reason for the offense's struggles. Oh, wait, I take that back. The best sight is seeing Joe Gibbs and his old cronies on the field coaching. Not sure how that can be topped.

Most troubling sight: the offense hasn't looked sharp yet. But how much is because of how aggressive the defense has been? We'll find out starting Monday night.

Most incredible sight: 20,000 fans attending Saturday's practice. Thousands of fans have attended these workouts, probably more than the past four or five years combined. It's been unreal.

Worst prediction: by the ex-Gibbs players who predicted a physical camp unlike anything we've ever seen. Sorry, but that hasn't happened. Norv Turner's camps did more hitting as did Marty Schottenheimer's. The Redskins have had only one four-play sequence in which they went full-go with hitting.

But the difference in Gibbs' camps, especially compared to the last two years, is the attention to detail. That will make the biggest difference.

Still waiting to see: How good are the cornerbacks. To me, the secondary is the key to the defense. We already know the line will be suspect. Therefore, the backs had better cover. And I'm anxious to see if they can.

Better get back on the field: RB Ladell Betts and WR Taylor Jacobs. Both have some potential. Both have been hurt too much. One thing Joe Gibbs treasures more than anything is finding players he can count on. You can't count on guys who are hurt. And both have missed too much time in the first week with injuries.

Haven't noticed: Chris Samuels. That's a good thing. It means he's not getting beat. Then again he's not facing elite rushers yet. Still, I've never seen him this determined to have a good season.

Best advice for fans: if you want autographs, at least know the players' names. One day, as I talked to Darnerien McCants a few feet from autograph seekers, a fan kept shouting for ''Darnell! Darnell!'' And No. 3 quarterback Tim Hasselbeck has been confused for his brother, Matt. That shouldn't happen by his own fans.

Best newcomer: Clinton Portis. He'll be electric. The guy just makes people miss. He also has a fun side, witness the Run, Clinton, Run T-shirts (OK, that's also a business side). With his personality, Portis could really be a big star here.

Best newcomer, runner-up: Linebacker Marcus Washington. Very athletic. Has looked good in coverage, at least in practice.

Rockiest start: Isn't it obvious? Maybe not. While Sean Taylor has made headlines off the field, it's hard to gauge his effectiveness on it. After all, the Redskins haven't done much hitting and that's one of his strengths. So we'll wait for the games to decide if his on-field start truly is rocky.

But the one that troubles me is Mark Brunell. If he were a few years younger I wouldn't be concerned about how he's looked in practice. But he's 34 and hasn't looked sharp in practice, aside from a few throws and a couple days. He can add a lot if he still has something left. Maybe he'll show that when the games start. I do like how he leads receivers on short routes.

Most curious newcomer: OK, Taylor gets the call here. In many ways his start mirrors LaVar Arrington's. We heard rumors about how much fun he was having off the field before his rookie year. Then Arrington missed a week in June for the birth of his child, whick irked the coaches (who spread their displeasure). Arrington did not like the media his first season. But what I liked is that no one knew it because Arrington didn't reject any interviews (though I remember Deion Sanders coaching Arrington in this area, even arbitrating a dispute he had with a Post reporter).

The difference between Taylor and Arrington, though, is that the latter loves the attention and has a lot to say. My guess is that Taylor just wants to be left alone. That's too bad because this isn't all that difficult. Fortunately every other player has been nothing but helpful. And we can live with that.

Best performance by a longshot: Corner Garnell Wilds, a rookie from Virginia Tech. Seems to make a play every practice.

Player most likely to annoy the offense: Safety Matt Bowen. Always making an extra shove or push on a play. Seems like a different offensive guy every day is the victim.


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