Training Camp Report: August 16

Taylor talks, Smoot Awards are back and what is going on with the OL?

Taylor talks: Redskins safety Sean Taylor broke his silence, speaking for the first time since the OTAs in mid-May.

Why today? We have no idea, though it likely coincided with the annual mandatory media meeting yesterday. Taylor, as we told you a couple weeks back, has appeared more mature to some in the building this summer. They say he's more confident and more comfortable in his surroundings. Taylor is someone who takes a long time to trust others and it shows.

What struck us today is that he's still contentious and defensive with the press. He was asked softball questions today, yet was defensive.

He seemed to contradict a lot of what his coaches had said about him, denying that he had lost weight (he looks thinner); or that he was a mentor to LaRon Landry (Gregg Williams says he has been); or that the Pro Bowl lit a fire under him. However, he did admit that it was memorable.

‘'It was definitely an experience I'll never forget,'' he said. ‘'[But] you know what, I take this job very seriously. You play a kids' game for a king's ransom. If you don't take it seriously enough, eventually you'll say, ‘I could have done this, I could have done that.' I'm going into my fourth year and why not do the best I can? Whether it's eating right or training harder or studying harder.''

Finally, Taylor said it doesn't matter to him that there is now the designation of free and strong safety. ''I'm a safety, man,'' he said. ''I play free, strong, whatever you ask of me.''

Taylor was more well-spoken than in the past, a sign of his increased maturity.

However, Santana Moss said he thinks Taylor is the same as always.

''He's a great person, period,'' Moss said. ''He reaches out to people he doesn't need to. He's always asking how you're doing, what's going on. Everyone should know that. ... People just have to know what he's about.''

How it happened: A TV reporter asked Taylor for an interview yesterday, but he declined. However, he promised the reporter an interview today and stuck to his word (he blew off the press three straight days despite repeated requests earlier this camp). As he spoke, another TV reporter came around and soon other members were summoned as the Redskins knew Taylor might not talk again for a while. It's just how he is.

Quotable: ‘'He did nothing. He played with me; he was a teammate.'' Sean Taylor on former Redskin Ryan Clark.

Smoot Awards: Now that Fred Smoot is back, the Redskins had their little share of gag awards again. For those who had forgotten: Smoot loves giving out the Tyrone Hill award to the, um, ugliest player on the team. This year's recipient?

Offensive tackle Stephon Heyer, who did not seem too thrilled with the ''honor'' when approached by a cameraman. But don't feel bad for Heyer: he won $1,200. There was also the Sam Cassell Award to the player who is sort of ugly. Step on up, Ethan Albright. And the Lifetime Achievement Award for ugliness goes to Phillip Daniels, who won $500. Not sure what Albright got, but it was somewhere in between.

Line talk: We still think Mike Pucillo will start the opener, based in large part on Todd Wade's performance last weekend and his struggles to adjust to a new position. But Al Saunders said not to read too much into Pucillo starting this week in place of the injured Wade. However, it's hard not to. Wade, according to club sources and NFL sources, is not a good fit for the position. Good guy; willing worker; right tackle. That's Wade....

Also, the Redskins worked Taylor Whitley at guard some today, but not with the first unit. And Jason Fabini worked at left tackle. He, too, is best suited for tackle and not guard.

Backup plan: OK, so the No. 2 job is open between Todd Collins and Mark Brunell. No shock there considering how Brunell has played and how well Collins knows the offense. The Skins still like how Brunell manages the game and his huddle presence. They say his elbow is fine. Collins' knowledge of the offense gives him an edge.

Big Joe: Joe Salave'a continues to work with the first unit alongside Cornelius Griffin. The Redskins are loathe to name defensive starters, but it sure looks as if he's passed Kedric Golston.

Big Al: Lorenzo Alexander is very strong. In a full-team drill, he shoved back Pucillo. Later, he had no problem shoving Kili Lefotu back, though Lefotu got him the next two times by showing improved balance.

Up and down: Jason Campbell threw a couple nice passes today, followed by some that were off. He hit Antwaan Randle El down the left seam with a good toss and later hit Santana Moss on a deep ball, beating David Macklin. In between, he and Randle El had a breakdown. Randle El ran down the left seam, but Campbell expected him to cut to the outside. That's where the ball went, but Randle El never cut.

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