You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net
Here are my observations on Friday's training camp session. I recorded a more detailed account as the activities progressed. They are broken up here with an audio comment following each written entry. The AudioBlog continues in to post-practice interviews. For quick access, the audios of those interviews are listed here.
Player/coach interview audio
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Cedric Killings, a defensive tackle who is fighting for his job against, among others, two draftees in Anthony Montgomery and Kedric Golston, looks a little heavy and out of shape. He just doesn't seem to be as nimble as some of the other big guys.
Wide receivers have a reputation for being lone eagle types, performing on the edge of the hard hitting taking place in the middle. Santana Moss is no exception to this stereotype, but that doesn't mean that he is absent of leadership qualities. Certainly he's not the rah-rah type; he rarely says a word out on the practice field. But as he makes his way through drills you can very much tell that he's leading by example. He runs his routes with precision, he hustles in a smooth, almost effortless fashion, and he looks the ball into his hands every time. You can see the younger players imitating him. Apparently when you gain nearly 1,500 yards receiving in a season your actions speak louder than any words you might come up with.
It's one thing to hear that someone is a perfectionist and it's another to see that tendency put into action. The quarterbacks were lobbing fade passes into the corner of the end zone. Brandon Lloyd, pictured with Saunders above, and Antwaan Randle El both made what looked like perfect catches of their passes for what would have been touchdowns. But Saunders went up to each of them, demonstrating something with his hands, perhaps telling them where better to position them. The fact that something may have worked isn't good enough for Saunders.
Mike Espy is the early favorite to claim the role of the guy that seems to be too good to cut but he'll probably have to be because there's no place to put him. He's catching everything thrown in his direction and is proving to be very coachable.
On the other end of the scale of long shot wide receivers is Avateus Cash. The guy simply hasn't done much to garner any notice besides drop some passes at the worst possible times. [MEDIA: 339028]
Mark Brunell wasn't sharp to start out with, at least not on longer passes or on touch passes. Once he started just winding up and firing the ball in, he found his stride and started to hit his targets.
Todd Collins didn't seem to be very sharp at all. In contrast to what one would think a quarterback with several years in Saunders' system to throw, he seemed to be almost mechanical, thinking through every part of every motion. Perhaps that is Saunders' perfection tendencies having him think too much, but it doesn't seem to be natural or particularly effective. It could just be seeing a different style, but it's something to keep an eye on as the preseason progresses.
The offensive and defensive linemen, mostly the reserves as it turns out, went at it in a one-on-one pass blocking drill, pictured above. Nothing fancy about it, one of Blache's guys lined up against one of Bugel's guys and they went at it. Bugel's guys appeared to get the best of it as no rusher got through.
Jesse Lumsden certainly looks the part of an NFL running back. He has nearly ideal size at 6-2, 219. He's elusive, quick, and works hard. If there is a running back spot available on this team, he seems primed to grab it.
This is what the Redskins want to see with great frequency this year. Brunell drops back, sees Moss with a couple of steps on his defender, and puts the ball into the streaking receiver's arms for six.
Rock Cartwright is learning from the likes of James Thrash and Marcus Washington. He's pure hustle, running out every play even when he could probably take it easy as his spot on the team is reasonably secure.
Lemar Marshall was once again in the right place at the right time, snagging a pass that bounced off of a receiver's hands. After you see that enough, you start to understand that it's not just luck.
For much of the offseason I've been saying that Jason Campbell is more ready that most think to play in real games if necessary. I'm not retracting that statement yet, but I will say it with less confidence now. He just doesn't seem to be able to make decisions nearly quickly enough. I'm not selling my Campbell stock, but I'm not buying any more either until we see more.
The stock I'm buying is that of Kedric Golston. He's playing with power and a high degree of confidence for a rookie. On one play he busted through the line and was standing in front of Clinton Portis as soon as he got the ball.
Warrick Holdman is an eight-year veteran, but he's certainly not above being coached. After one play Dale Lindsey called him over and demonstrated how he should have put a chuck on Chris Cooley.
Talked to Holdman, pictured above, after practice. I did so with some trepidation as last year I had said that the Redskins could have done just as well with a well-placed trash can on defense instead of Holdman. The good part was the he essentially agreed with me, saying that he did not expect to get another opportunity with the Redskins considering how poorly he played in 2005.
Caught a little bit of an interview with Espy. He'll have plenty of people rooting for him, including myself, but he does face some long odds.
Another long shot to make the team is offensive lineman Jasper Harvey, pictured above, who also is a rookie free agent. At least he's competing at a position where there are some openings. He came to the Redskins because he wanted Joe Bugel to coach him.
I came in at the tail end of an interview with Dale Lindsey. He clearly threw down the gauntlet at the feet of Robert McCune, saying, "He's not where we want him. Robert turned out to be a good special teams players last year, and if you're backup linebacker here we expect you to be a good in that area. But we expect him to rise this year when he's playing middle linebacker. And right now, I don't see him where we want him, and I'm not taking the blame for that."
Mike Sellers was in pretty good spirits. He seems to like his role in Saunders' offense.
Randy Thomas seems to be healing up well. Both of his ankles were rather heavily taped and he said that the ankle was aching, but overall he was pleased with his progress.
Not much to talk about with Gibbs after speaking with him every day for a week. He had one of his grandsons in tow, Ty, about two or three years old, and he had a funny little story to tell about him.