Combine Day 2

Although he wasn't one of the 20 coaches and general managers that made podium appearances -- including New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin (in a rare moment of entertainment) firing back at retired linebacker Tiki Barber -- Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs was available to two reporters Friday morning in the lobby of a downtown Indianapolis hotel.

He answered questions for about 40 minutes, his first extensive comments since his end-of-season Jan. 1 press conference. Some of the highlights are below.

In other Combine news, the workouts finally begin on Saturday. As usual, most of the top players do not work out, opting to wait for individual sessions or their college's Pro Day. Oklahoma RB Adrian Peterson, though, may work out in an effort to improve his stock and Georgia Tech WR Calvin Johnson is contemplating running the 40-yard dash.


Interesting nuggets from Gibbs:

* Salary cap/free agency: "Everybody knows our cap situation. ... Our game plan this year was to take care of the guys on our team and then look at free agency and say, 'What can we do there to help us in key spots?' ... For our team, you can probably say we'll be more focused on defense."

* Drafting No. 6 overall: The draft: "The real important thing for us is, in case we decided that we'll back out of [the sixth overall spot], we have to do a really good job down through the draft. ... There could be a lot involved with it.

... The reality normally tells me that we'll be making that pick. ... At No. 6, you're trying to pick a player that, regardless of what position he plays, will make a real impact and is somebody who will be around and go to Pro Bowls for you."

* Derrick Dockery: "I think we've worked really hard to get that done, and our expectations are that we don't want [him to enter free agency] no matter what. We're operating under the thought process that we can still get something done."

* Adam Archuleta's return: "That's our plan. That hasn't gone the way we would have liked, but we're hoping the end result will be a lot better than what we've gone through so far. After going through the first year, it was tough for everybody. Our goal is to find a way he fits for us and get him doing the things he does well."

* Clinton Portis' rehabilitation from shoulder surgery: "I think he's doing really well. I've talked to him a couple of times, and what I've picked up from Clinton is he has a burning [desire] and he has a you-watch-me-type attitude. He's excited about next year."

* Delaying the start of on-field, off-season activities: "I felt like what we did last year made absolute sense. We started early; went Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; and gave them long weekends. But what they kind of felt, and they are guys I trust, is that they would like to be more on their own from a conditioning standpoint further into the off-season. So we?re going to do that. We'll probably start six [or] seven weeks later."

* Starting training camp early: "Training camp ... will probably be different for us, too. It will probably come earlier."


My impressions on Gibbs' comments.

* It seems the Redskins are open to trading down but not for the sake of picking up picks post-round 2. They want value for their No. 6 pick. What would help them is if Oklahoma's Peterson somehow fell out of the top four. For example, if Oakland at 1 and Cleveland at 3 take quarterbacks, Detroit at 2 takes LT Joe Thomas and Tampa Bay drafts Calvin Johnson at 4. Arizona, with the fifth pick, doesn't need a running back. Teams like Denver and Green Bay would be willing to trade their first-round picks to get in position to draft Peterson.

* Gibbs appeared to be disappointed that a deal for Dockery isn't done. He knows the free-agent guard class isn't great, the Redskins' in-house options aren't ideal and the lack of draft picks means they can't find a guard on Day One of the draft. And the Redskins should be worried that a team with beaucoup cap space will overpay for Dockery, who is just an average player although very durable.

* It doesn't sound like the Redskins are optimistic they can keep CB Shawn Springs. Gibbs was vague about his level of optimism about keeping Springs. If I were Springs, I would be playing hard-ball, too. He has earned that right. If he is cut, the Redskins are in trouble because they then have to think about Michigan CB Leon Hall with the sixth pick if they don't sign Nate Clements in free agency.

* Gibbs has always been a Portis fan but I took him to heart when he sounded excited about Portis' attitude. He said No. 26 has a I'm-going-to-show-you attitude.

* The earlier start to training camp would be radical, maybe just 3-4 days. Since he returned to the team, Gibbs has used a 1-2-1-2 practice schedule -- for example, two practices on a Monday followed by an afternoon practice on Tuesday. I would stick to that kind of schedule. But it will be interesting to see if Gibbs orders more hitting. Having covered all three of his training camps, the only full-contact drill I can remember was during the opening week of the 2004 camp when it was the first-team O vs. the first-team D in a goal-line drill. The intensity was sensational and it ended with defensive coaches high-fiving offensive linemen and linebackers pounding fists with receivers.


* Cleveland Browns general manager Phil Savage does an interesting thing at the Combine. Following his press conference, Savage was talking with reporters outside the Media Conference Room. But he excused himself to re-enter the room to watch Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn answer questions. Savage has made a practice of doing this the last three years. For the record, Quinn was impressive on the podium.

* LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell tipped the scales at 265 pounds and at a shade over 6-feet-5. He is just as tall as Vince Young and quite a bit thicker. Translation: The kid looks like a tank. He will work out for teams on March 14. Russell is represented by Ethan Locke and Eric Metz, the agent duo who scored a giant contract for Maryland TE Vernon Davis last year.

* The NFLPA released a list of rookies and which agents they've hired. Bad news for the Redskins -- Arkansas Jamaal Anderson is represented by Gary Wichard, who also represents Adam Archuleta and is widely believed to be the chief source for the damning anti-Gregg Williams article in late November.

* The trade rumor making the rounds Friday was Byron Leftwich for Randy Moss with a draft pick or two involved. The deal makes no sense for the Jags. Jack Del Rio -- a coach on very thin ice -- named Leftwich his 2007 starter on Thursday and Moss' skills have diminished greatly. The deal makes great sense for the Raiders. If they could get Leftwich, they could possibly trade down and still grab WR Calvin Johnson.


Justin Blalock, Guard, Texas

If the Redskins lose Derrick Dockery in free agency, they might have to consider Blalock if they can acquire a second-round pick. A four-year starter (his 51 starts are more than any player at the Combine) for the Longhorns, Blalock is 6-feet-3, 320 pounds.

One scouting magazine says Blalock is "very effective in a phone booth." But he also has experience as a tackle and the Redskins don't have a player who's versatile and can play both positions.

Ryan O'Halloran covers the Redskins for The Washington Times.

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