Summertime weather and midseason intensity were both on display as the Washington Redskins minicamp opened on Friday.
Al Saunders certainly was in prime form. "Finish with you feet, finish with your feet!" he exclaimed as a run up the middle sort of petered out a short distance beyond the line of scrimmage.
The new offensive guru was giving out some sugar as well. He ran 15 yards downfield to congratulate Brandon Lloyd on a particularly nice move.
After warmups, as usual, the attention turned to special teams. What seemed like dozens of different players, from stars to scrubs, took turns on a tip drill executed with volleyballs, simulating batting the ball back onto the field of play from the edge of the goal line. It became evident at that point that the focus and enthusiasm were at a very high level as spirits were high with successful bats that died near the goal line were cheered loudly.
Special teams coach Danny Smith was as fired up as anyone, yelling about an illegal block during a punting drill. A bit later on he became much quieter as he keenly watched David Lonie and then Derrick Frost field simulated taking field goal snaps from a JUGS machine. In the dozen or so time each of them handled a snap they were both up to the standard of an NFL holder, meaning that they were flawless. If you're looking for a small edge in the punter competition between the two, give it to Lonie. If he can handle the holding duties, that's one more reason for Smith to give the incumbent Frost the boot (so to speak).
There was no contact among players, but the defensive linemen did spend some time hitting a sled. They exploded into the pad, shaped like the outline of a blocker, and pushed it up and back. It took tackle Anthony Montgomery a while to get the hang of it. He was asked to go back to the front of the line a few times he seemed a shade tentative, but he got the hang of it by the end of the drill.
As this and other individual defensive drills went on Gregg Williams rotated between the backs, linebackers and linemen, observing the proceedings and shouting encouragement to his charges.
If you believe that there is a competition for the final receiver spot between David Patten and Taylor Jacobs, you'd have to say that Jacobs had the edge today. Jacobs consistently was getting open and caught nearly everything thrown near him while Patten was hot and cold. Of course, in his three previous seasons in the NFL Jacobs has shown a great knack for looking good from June through early August and then getting hurt and/or becoming ineffective when the real games started. There's no doubt that the coaches will think long and hard about that history before deciding to keep Jacobs over Patten.