Covering The Redskins

Location: Bloomfield, CT

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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

July 31-- Landry is in, Portis is resting a sore knee

RB Clinton Portis was held out of the practice due to soreness in his knee.. He developed tendonitis during the OTA’s after coming off of shoulder surgery and apparently he is not completely over it.. The team will treat him as day to day for now..

T Chris Samuels prognosis looks pretty good, Joe Bugel and Joe Gibbs both believe he could be back sooner then the initial 4 weeks.. The team is relatively certain without a setback Samuels should be back to full health in preparation for the opener against Miami.. But for now he will rest and certainly will not participate this week or in the scrimmage this weekend..
When the team came out in 11-11 drills, Maryland undrafted rookie Stephon Heyer ran with the first team and took the bulk of the reps there.. he said he was surprised that he was chosen to go initially.. Joe Gibbs, who rarely is definitive about anything with the media warned us not to look into that too much, “we have made no decision on Heyer.” The team will run multiple combinations to find out what they have in terms of depth on the line, Taylor Ehitley will get a shot, possibly Jason Fabini, but Joe Bugel said that Fabini right now is a guard and was alternating between left and right guard for reps..
G Randy Thomas returned to practice but did not take part in 11-11 drills.. he is still resting a sore knee, he did take part in more individual stuff today then he had the past few.. Both Will Whitacker and Jason Fabini alternated taking his spot with the first team on 11-11..
Gibbs said that for now the team has decided to keep Todd Wade at guard as he continues to learn the position.. The feeling is Samuels will be ready by opening day so it is more imperative for Wade to continue to learn his new position, but Gibbs left open the possibility should tackle become a spot where the team is in need, Wade could move back..

LB Marcus Washington was back at practice..
Injuries: TE Tyler Ecker was out with a strained groin, WR Mike Espy was out with a bruised knee, T Chris Samuels was out, knee, FB Pete Schmidt was out with a rotator cuff injury, RB Clinton Portis was rested, tendonitis in his knee.. LB Kevin Jones left practice early to have his knee looked at by the trainers..

We had our first skirmish of camp, it lasted all of of about 1 second as back-up guard Ross Tucker took a swipe at Defensive end Bryant Shaw, nothing came of it..

Call it Brokeback Ashburn, Jon Jansen and Casey Rabach who have become inseparable have an RV that is parked in the lot at Redskins park, where they spend time between practices hanging out.. I don’t want to know what is going on in there and they don’t want me to come in either!

Former Skins CB Barry Wilburn was at the park doing an internship in coaching with the team.. Wilburn was among the candidates on the minority coaching list that Gibbs chose to have come out and work with the team..

S Laron Landry was at his first practice and started with the second unit, but the staff got him and Sean Taylor on the field together for numerous reps.. That is the hope by the first game that Landry will be caught up and ready to make an immediate impact.. Fred Smoot said Landry has to be able to understand the checks and the calls, if he doesn’t know how to place the secondary players in front of him, “Gregg won’t play him.”
Smoot has been praised by his teammates for picking up the defense immediately and being very communicative on the field in his return to the team.. Smoot said it was nice to be part of a defense he knew and that even being away for two years, he hasn’t had any problems picking up the terminology again.. Smoot reminded everyone he played with six different coordinators in 7 years, calling it refreshing to be in something he already understood..

Monday, July 30, 2007

July 30-- Samuels has sprained knee

T Chris Samuels has a grade 2 sprain on the MCL in his right knee.. He will be out for up to 4 weeks..

July 30-- Samuels hurt, Landry signs

T Chris Samuels got rolled up on during team drills in the second practice of the day and suffered an injury to the MCL in his right knee.. At the time I am writing this, the team was taking him to get an MRI to find out the severity, and after they will discuss a timeframe.. Joe Salave’a ended up hitting him low which caused the injury.. Samuels said upon leaving the building that he thought his season was over but he knows now he’ll be fine.. He suffered the same injury against Miami a few years ago when Junior Seau kicked him in the knee and trainer Bubba Tyer believes the old injury left the knee “loose.”
Who the Skins practice at left tackle starting tomorrow will be interesting, Todd Wade is probably their best tackle prospect, but they have committed to turning him into LG.. So maybe it will be Tyler Whitley or Jason Fabini.. Fabini has spent the bulk of work at practice as a back-up at RG in place of the injured Randy Thomas..

Other injuries: FB Pete Schmidt will undergo an MRI after suffering a rotator cuff injury in the afternoon session.. WR Mike Espy was held out of the afternoon practice with a bruised knee, he is day to day.. LB Marcus Washington practiced in the morning but not in the afternoon resting a sore hip.. G Randy Thomas was held out of both practices after receiving a cortisone shot yesterday.. He is coming off an off-season knee scope and won’t be pushed through the summer.. Thomas did some running on the side and may do some individual drills tomorrow but will not return to full practice until later in the week.. LB Dallas Sartz has a mild hamstring strain and was held out of both practices.. LB HB Blades missed the early practice still suffering from cramps but returned for the afternoon session.. TE Tyler Ecker remains out with a strained groin..

S Laron Landry had his flight to Washington delayed.. He was in the process of signing his contract this evening and is expected to practice tomorrow afternoon.. The 6th overall pick received a 5 year deal worth 41 million with 17 and a half million in signing bonus.. Gregg Williams and Joe Gibbs both praised Landry’s work in OTA’s to suggest he won’t be too far behind.. Williams said he would “sequester” Landry for a few days to help him catch up to what has already been installed..

Williams held his first media session of the summer saying the defense was embarrassed by their performance a year ago and refused to use injuries as an excuse, “I’m not going down that road.” He suggested he’s a better coach due to the adversity and the team has responded with the right attitude to re-prove they aren’;t as bad as they were a year ago.. Williams admitted he had to change some of the things he wanted to do based on injury (mainly Shawn Springs and Cornelious Griffin) but again, suggested the performance was at issue, not the manpower..

Joe Gibbs spoke on the passing of former 49ers head coach Bill Walsh saying his legacy is the west coast offense which is still being utilized by some teams around the league and said “had we been able to beat them at their place, we might have been to a couple more Super Bowls.” Gibbs son Coy played for Walsh at Stanford but Gibbs said he didn’t know Bill very well.. Vinny Cerrato worked for nine years in the 49ers organization before coming to Washington, he called Walsh an innovator.. Andre Carter was part of Walsh’s last draft class when he was a consultant with the team, Carter said when Walsh walked into the room, everyone shut up and listened, “Bill Walsh was NFL football.”

Jason Campbell was as sharp as he has been since camp began.. Gibbs pointed out how he liked the deep shots Campbell was hitting.. The thing that has stuck out to me the first couple of days was Campbell adeptness of hitting the out pattern to Santana Moss, he has been able to thread a couple of those in, a very good sign.. Still, Campbell’s play has been spotty, but Gibbs said the timing often takes a few practices to sure up..

Former Skins linebacker Mike Barrow has been here the past few days doing an “internship” with Gregg Williams.. He is the new Linebackers coach at the University of Miami..
Williams ripped new LB’s Dallas Sartz and HB Blades for “not knowing how to practice.” Both missed some time today based on not understanding hydrating themselves and being succeptable to cramping.. Blades returned in the afternoon, but Sartz is out with a mild hamstring strain..
The team released kicker Tyler Frederickson who one reporter told me she saw him talking back to Danny Smith yesterday.. She claimed he was asked to do something that he believed he'd never practcied before.. Smith didn't agree.. Tight end Jake Nordin was signed to take his roster spot..

Sunday, July 29, 2007

July 29-- Rain comes, Landry doesn't

Fan Appreciation day was washed out when a nasty storm cell came through Ashbrun right around practice time, so the fans were sent home.. There is a second fan appreciation day scheduled for Wednesday night.. Joe Gibbs apologized to the fans but felt safety was necessary first..

The practice was delayed for about an hour and fifteen minutes and the team only spent about 55 minutes on the turf when the rain started again..

The Offense was a little more crisp on the turf then they had been in recent days and (while this is always just perception) Joe Gibbs and Gregg Williams were particularly spunky today, this was as vocal as they have been during any of the first four practices of camp..

There are two practices tomorrow here at the Park..

G Randy Thomas was held out of practice, he received a cortisone shot in his surgically repaired knee and that will keep him off the field for at least a couple more days..

During practice today, Vet Jason Fabini was used in 9-9 and 11-11 drills as the starting right guard in place of Thomas.. Through the first three practices Will Whittacker manned that spot.. Whittacker was a player who one source told me the team likes very much, but needs to get tougher.. This is the first sign he hasn’t quite gotten to the point the coaches want yet..

LB Marcus Washington “felt something” and was held out of practice.. Washington admits he is coming into camp not at 100%, he had serious hip surgery in the off-season and is going to periodically rest during camp with the hopes of being fresh by the regular season..

WR Brandon Lloyd appeared to have a slight limp during the offensive drills, he twinged something after one 11-11 play but did not miss a rep, just something to watch..

Rookie TE Tyler Ecker has a strained groin and did not practice..

LB HB Blades and DE Bryant Shaw both returned to practice after missing yesterday’s second practice with cramps…

S Laron Landry remains unsigned despite Adrian Peterson, the 7th overall pick coming to terms with Minnesota yesterday.. Joe Gibbs continues to say he believes a deal with get done “any second” and said that he would be surprised if it isn’t completed this evening..

Among practice changes that came to camp, a number of the suggestions apparently came from the players, there was no specification, however while the coaches have demanded a longer and supposedly “tougher” camp (although the latter part if arguable to this point), the players have continued to have a good amount of say of how day to day regimens are treated.. The players sought and received the coaches blessing to use more of the off-season away from Redskins Park.. In turn the coaches said the team would return earlier and would have more intense practices.. Now comes the revelation that some of the drill work was from the players suggestions.. It’s an interesting look at a team that has no qualms with communication about how preparation should be handled.. Not all coaches would be as amenable..

OK men..

Saturday, July 28, 2007

July 28-- Lloyd speaks, Brunell won't be dealt, Campbell's drawl

Joe Gibbs says he expects to have a deal with S Laron Landry “any minute.” Landry missed both the practices of the first two-a-day of camp as his contract continues to be hammered out.. There is one lone practice tomorrow at 4PM..

Asked about the growing rumors that Atlanta might be interested in QB Mark Brunell, Gibbs said he has not received any calls from the Falcons and intimated the team wouldn’t be interested in any deal, “I’d say we like our quarterbacks..”

TE Tyler Ecker has a pulled groin, his status is undetermined but he likely won’t practice tomorrow..

LB HB Blades was held out of the afternoon practice after cramping in the morning sessions.. Same goes for Defensive end Bryant Shaw..

G Randy Thomas was held out of both practices of the day, he is resting his knee and may continue to rest it periodically through the early parts of training camp..

S Pierson Prioleau has been the starter during 11-11 drills with the absence of Landry and looks like he is back to full speed.. he tore an ACL on the opening kickoff of the regular season and missed the year.. He says physically he is 100% and feels as fast as in the past.. Mentally, he told me there is still some apprehension but he says it’s nothing that won’t be fixed after a couple of live plays in the pre-season..

Gibbs described the day as very sloppy for the offense.. There has been little spark for the offensive unit and Jason Campbell it is safe to say is off to a slow start at camp..

In my opinion, the start to camp doesn’t have that ferocious feeling I suppose I expected when the coaches talked so openly about making this a more strenuous camp.. The team has yet to wear a full uniform through three practices, they have worn shoulder pads for all three but hitting as you might imagine is extremely limited.. So it appears there remains a balance of being safe and getting the team in shape.. This is not a brutal camp, the only difference from last year appears to be the amount of extra practices the staff added..

WR Brandon Lloyd spoke to the media for the first time since last year, he had a self imposed media blackout through the OTA workouts.. Lloyd looks considerably larger in terms of muscle mass and said he used a personal trainer to work out six times a day.. He says he will be playing at about 8 pounds heavier and says he is no longer using camp to get in shape because he’s getting older now..

When asked about being the #3 receiver, Lloyd said the team has numerous three wide packages and that “many passes would come his way.” And he is only interested in improving his output from last year by doing “whatever the team needs.”

Asked about last year and what happened (the few catches, no touchdowns, the benching) he said next to nothing claiming he “didn’t know” what happened..

There were a couple of strange exchanges today, one reporter asked Al Saunders about dealing with Jason Campbell’s difficulty with enunciating the plays.. The question wasn’t meant racially, at least it didn’t come off that way.. But it was too easy to assume it might have been and have been using it as material all afternoon..

Amazingly, during the Lloyd presser, this new reporter I’ve never met actually asked Lloyd about Jason Campbell’s improvement in “enunciating” the plays in the huddle.. Lloyd also didn’t take it as a Black/White question and said the whole team understands the offense better..

This was the most absurd line of questioning I’ve heard since Kwame Brown was asked the day he was drafted by the Wizards by one reporter how he “got to be so well spoken?”

Listen, Campbell has a Southern accent but I’ve never had a problem understanding him.. This is worth looking into since it was a line of questioning, but it borders on bizarre..

Saunders said Brett Favre got a speech coach when he was young because guys couldn’t understand his Louisiana Twang..

OK men..

July 28 Post AM practice, Saunders says ARE #2 WR

Rookie LB HB Blades left the field dealing with cramps, we will see if he returns for the afternoon session.. Rookie TE suffered a strained groin and was taken off the field, we’ll get the severity of it later in the day..

T Chris Samuels turned 30 years old today..

Offensive coordinator Al Saunders says Antwaan Randle-El is the #2 WR heading into the pre-season and Brandon Lloyd is the #3 because “that’s how it ended last year.” Saunders says he believes the team has three qualified starting WR’s and that on many occasions the team will have 3 wide sets, however “until he starts doing things more consistently, which he is going in that direction,” he will remain behind Randle-El..

Saunders said the perception that the offense changed mid-season when Joe Gibbs had his talk with the team was unture.. The offense wasn’t shifted but scaled back because of the unfamiliarity of the offense for Jason Campbell.. Campbell’s progression has been vast according to Saunders but there is a level of familiarity that still needs to be reached.. Campbell’s pocket presence was lauded by Saunders who called him very courageous.. The team is also looking forward to taking advantage of Campbell’s downfield passing abilities, but last year Saunders admitted the team kept 7-8 blockers in to help protect Campbell, whether they loosen up that plan will be known when the pre-season begins..

Saunders says Clinton Portis is the undisputed starter at running back and that Portis offers a game breaking ability when he breaks into the second level of the defense.. Saunders says he wants to see Portis grow as a pass receiver and that would make him less one dimensional.. They aren’t looking to turn Portis into a Bryan Westbrook or Reggie Bush per se, but if he were used in the flat more then usual, it might help loosen up the D’s who treat him as a good pass blocker…

Chris Cooley can be expected to run more deep patterns this fall, that is the part of his game that the team hopes to exploit more.. Cooley told me he is not concerned with the state of contract extension talks which have been quiet around here lately.. The team would like to lock him up this summer.. Cooley said because he has never been through it before he has no concerns over how or when it happens.. Cooley readily admits that he and many of the offensive teammates weren’t comfortable with their knowledge of the offense heading into the regular season because of a lack of reps in the summer.. He feels much differently about the state of the offense come this fall..

Santana Moss said he took much of the summer off to be safe about his ever ailing hamstrings and groin.. Groin was the bigger issue for Moss who has taken part in both practices of camp thus far, but any tweak will get the staff’s attention.. The staff remains worried about keeping him healthy.. He is a lynchpin for the offense, Moss admits the way it is structured, he “could be a beast in this thing.” Saunders described him as “that guy 89 can do anything.” He didn’t say that about his other players..

Kudos to Mike Wise who had the shirt of the day wearing a burgundy T-shirt that read "Homeland Security, protecting America since 1785" Something like that.. It had a picture of American Indians on it.. I wanted him to approach Dan Snyder in that shirt just to see what would have happened..

Friday, July 27, 2007

July 27- Camp Opens, Portis wants 2006 behind him

S Laron Landry was not in camp and remains unsigned.. Joe Gibbs believes that a deal likely will get accomplished by the weekend as other first round picks around the league are signing the deals.. Gibbs believes the waiting for the slotting of the salaries is the main hold up in a deal for Landry..
He was the only player absent from the lone practice of the first day of camp..

G Randy Thomas left practice early, he did not leave the field and claimed that a bathroom break was one of the main reasons he stepped away but he was spotted talking to trainers.. Thomas is coming off a knee scope and is not going to be pushed hard through camp.,. Randy claims he was just being safe hoping to avoid any setbacks and no one seems ultimately concerned with his status at this point, he'll be one to watch this weekend.. When Thomas was out, Will Whittacker replaced him at RG during practice..

WR Keenan McCardell accepted a one year deal with the Texans so the Skins decided to sign 9 year vet Corey Bradford who was most recently with Detroit.. McCardell was hoping for a longer deal from Washington, when they relented he accepted the same money from Houston because he lives there.. Bradford will battle Mike Espy mainly for the #5 WR spot..

Fans were tailgating in the median on Loudon County Parkway leading up to the gates at Redskins Park upwards of five hours before the start of the first practice.. This was not as heavily an attended first day as in the past, but still a large contingent was present.. The 5PM start and threats of rain may have kept some away..

LB Marcus Washington is not claiming to be 100% after coming off major hip surgery but was on the field and says he will take each day as it comes, he like Thomas is hoping not to suffer any setbacks before the start of the season.. Washington says his motto this summer is to be like "Clubber Lang," The character played by Mr. T in Rocky 3 who did little to no media work before crushing Rocky..

CB Fred Smoot was greeted with the Smoooootttt chears as he took the field as a Skin again, when asked if he had a hard time resigning with the team after they let him go via free agency a couple of seasons ago, he said no because the Skins are always "50 cents under the salary cap and I needed to be a little greedy back then." He continues to call this home..
When the first 11-11 drills were run, it was Smoot and Carlos Rogers on the corners, Shawn Springs joined in as well.. Smoot and Rogers both say there is no deliniation of who the #1, 2 and 3 CB's on this team are..

Springs says he has no ill feelings toward the team despite the fact that they were shopping him around this off-season.. he said he would be more concerned if no one wanted him.. Calling himself "an independent contractor," he says remaining in Washington after contract talks and balks plus the possibility of being dealt won't affect his play.. He says he is as close to 100% as could be expected and hops the sports hernia issues are behind him.. Springs also had to overcome a broken shoulder suffered late last season.. At first glimpse, Springs appears back to being healthy, but like Thomas and Washington could be expected to see extended rest to be sure of his health come September..

Joe Gibbs says there have been no internal discussions about free agent DE Simeon Rice and one Redskins source said his back and shoulder issues will likely keep them away from Rice.. Still, he is an option at the thin end spot..

RB Clinton Portis was very open and honest about last year saying that essentially being a year away from football has re-energized his love for the game.. He said after two years of being forced to remain at Redskins Park by the coaches made him lose some of his lust for playing and that he started to take things for granted last summer.. "I got to miss football. I'm excited." The injury in the first pre-season game forced him to re-asses his priorities.. He and Al saunders didn't exactly see eye to eye on the scheme, he says the two have spoken and now "I have to buy into this system. I have to adjust to the scheme, not the scheme adjusting to me."
Portis says he makes no assumptions as to who the #1 back on the team is but Gibbs called Portis his undisputed starter and Ladell Betts agreed.. But Portis admitted he won't mind it if Betts is having a big game and he watches from the sideline.. Betts agrees that whoever is hot that particular week should see the carries..
As for the mistakes he made commenting about Michael Vick in the off-seaosn, he made a casual mention of not being happy about being criticized about "something I wasn't a part of." He also said he isn't interested in talking about the past whether it's about his play or his comments, he wants to move forward with whatever the future is which he believes will be the Clinton Portis of old..
At first glance, Portis is moving very well, no indication that the knee tendontis that he dealt with in the summer is still hindering him.. he looked as fresh as he has since last camp before the injury..
Portis's clothing deserves a mention, he was wearing a shirt that read "Pimp Stic. Stikcing it in easy" on it.. Eeewww..
Brandon Lloyd practiced without shorts only boxer briefs, strange, Chris Cooley also went with the unusual tight fitting brief look as well..

Quick notes on LLoyd: It's hard to say how much has changed for Brandon Lloyd, but he obviously has put on some muscle mass and he appears (and this could be me just seeing it for the first time in a while) faster.. He speed off the line was noticeable to me, but I will watch closer to see if what I saw on day one was a figment of my imagination..

T Jon Jansen in his 9th camp all with the Skins says he still gets excited and still loves playing football here because of the offensive line tradition in DC and the history of the franchise.. He lost a few pounds and is listed under 300, it is noticeable.. Jansen says he has been dealing with some lingering injuries the past few years and decided it was time to drop some pounds and rededicate himself to a better body shape..

Jason Campbell didn't particularly stand out in his first camp practice as the undisputed starting QB.. he did say afterward he wasn't nervous at all although admitting this certainly was different.. He thanked Mark Brunnel for making the transition as seemless as it could.. It doesn't appear as if the QB heirarchy will change, I have no expectations that Jordan Palmer or Casey Bramlett will beat out Todd Collins for the #3 spot and there doesn't seem to be a lot of momentum to the growing rumors that Brunnel could be dealt to ATL who needs a Mike Vick replacemnt..

And we are off...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

July 26-- Bugel talks on eve of camp

Redskins Lunch with me and Larry Michael returned to Redskins park today on the eve of training camp, we opened the show with a visit from Assistant Head coach Joe Bugel who says jokingly "I don't want to have to change Nascar tires." He of course was amusingly discussing the prospect of the gang going all their own way if the Skins don't bounce back from a 5-11 season.. Bugel also said the team is focussing very hard on winning games in the pre-season and won't be hiding anything this summer as they try to get off to a much faster start then last year when they went 0-6 including the 4 exhibition games..

Bugel on his OL: Calls Chris Samuels and Jon Jansen great tackles.. He said the team will not be pushing G Randy Thomas particularly hard this summer as he is coming off of a knee scope but at least he is past the broken leg ("The guy made every practice with a rod in his leg last year")
As for LG: Bugel calls the Todd Wade experiment a "project." He said Wade's focus this off-season was to be somewhere where he could start, that opportunity was here for him but only as a guard barring an injury to one of the tackles..
Bugel said he thinks the depth on the line is much better then a year ago, the team added veterans Jason Fabini and Ross Tucker, still the experiment at LG could be a sore spot.. Young up and comer Will Whittacker better get tougher if he wants a shot to steal the position or win a back-up slot, Bugel made that very clear..

Safety position preview: The hope the Skins defensively have for Sean Taylor is to find a way to give him opportunities to get his hands on the ball, that would suggest that they may move Laron Landry up closer to the line in the hopes of getting Taylor is some positions to make interceptions.. Easier said then done, a pass rush would be a significant help on all fronts..
Landry figures to ultimately win the starting job due to his versatility as a blitzer.. The team wanted Adam Archuletta to play this hybrid role of blitzer and cover guy, but Archuletta failed in the latter, it ultimately was a misjudgement of his ability to play the role, the team believes Landry will be a perfect fit for their aggressive scheme, he just needs to sign and get here..
Pierson Prioleau is coming off a torn ACL suffered on the opening kickoff of the first game.. He is back to as close to 100% as he's going to be.. He's a stalwart on special teams and is a likely starter is Landry is late getting to camp or is slow learning his responsibilities..
Omar Stoutmire returns after one year in New Orleans.. he is a likely back-up.. Reed Doughty made the team as a late round pick a year ago and finally showed one of his pateneted hits late in the season on a teams play.. The sheer numbers at the position suggest he'll need help to keep his job..Vernon Fox resigned here as well, he was the main starter after the benching of Archuellta and injury to Prioleau.. Again, a special teams standout, but again limited in coverage skills although he held his own.. It would be interesting to see how he performs with a better pass rush whether it be from the line or in some form of combination with blitz schemes..

This will ultimately be one of the most hotly contested spots on the roster, Taylor and Landry are obvious locks.. Prioleau is in as long as he can show he hasn't lost a step, if he has, he will have a hard time beating everyone else out.. I like Fox's chances over Stoutmire's because of special teams.. Although both are likely to make it if Prioleau can't be his old self.. Doughty is probably a numbers casualty.. This position is stacked with viable options..
Right now, I'd go with Taylo, Landry, Prioleau and Fox, but if either of the other two are on the roster heading into week 1, it wouldn't be a surprise..

Camp tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

July 25-- Landry news and the CB's

Laron Landry, the Skins lone unsigned draftee might have a deal done as early as tomorrow.. I stress that there is no deal parameters in place just a suggested confidence from the guys I have spoken to at the park that there is not a lot of concern of getting a deal done before the start of camp on Friday. Landry is not alone in being a potential holdout, as of right now there are only 5 signed first round draft picks.. The league needs to address this in their next round of the collective bargaining agreement to maybe put a cap on rookie salaries, offer restricted free agency sooner and allevaite themselves the annual bickering over how much of an increase does the 6th overall choice get from last year's 6th overall choice who doesn't play the same position as the last guy picked..

Cornerback preview: Shawn Springs when healthy is among the best CB's in the league (my opinion of course) but probably not far from reality. Now at his advanced age and injury history, it's hard to expect Springs to remain a full go for 16 games, but to his credit, and partially because he thought he was going to be released, Springs spent an inordinate ammount of time with hsi personal trainer in Arizona.. He needed to get himself in remarkable shape in case he was a free agent and obviously in line for only one more potentially big contract.. Springs was asked to take a pay cut after his injury riddled 2006 season, he called the Skins bluff and after Washington failed to land Dre Bly when Detroit sent him to Denver instead, the Skins were left without a replacement top CB.. So Springs returns without a change to his expanding cap number.. This is likely the final year for him in DC, but then again I thought that after last year.. Of course if a deal for Ble was accomplished, he would have been released.. Springs knows all this but appeared to have handled it as professionally as possible..
Number 2 is a toss up right now, back comes Fred Smoot off a borken jaw that ended his second year in Minnesota early and a dirty boat experience that soured his stay in his first year with the team.. Smoot is back home and back among the media who like talking to him for his odd southern drawl and penchant for sound bytes.. The Redskins decision to let Smoot go as the Vikings overpayed proved to be true.. Now that he's back at a lower salary, all be it not on the cheap, Smoot will need to prove he can still be a number 2..
He's fighting Carlos Rogers for that spot.. Rogers is a physical corner, same as Smoot and Springs, why they are all well liked by Gregg Williams, but his cover skills were certainly at issue last year and he certainly did not necessarily step up as the number one when Springs missed time due to a sports hernia.. Rogers is under pressure now to perform..
The fourth corner should be an interesting battle as well, Jeremetrius Butler was brought in from St. Louis after 2 long years with injuries.. He's a long shot to make it because of the injury history, however this was a guy the team signed to a deal as a restricted free agent a few years back only to have St. Louis match.. They've had their eye on him for some time..
David Macklin comes in from Arizona, he should provide some depth as a back-up and is a more likely solution then Butler, but if Butler regains his form and appears healthy, Macklin might be in trouble.. Ade Jimoh is a special teams standout and a liability when playing defense.. But his special teams work has helped him keep his job since Spurrier was coach.. Joe Gibbs loves teams, don't underestimate it..
John Eubanks was a practice squader who was promoted to the main roster at the end of the season due to injury.. Leigh Torrence is another newcomer they like and Byron Westbrook, brother of Eagles RB Brian has a shot to impress as an undrafted free agent.. I don't expect any of these young guys to make the team unless there is a rash of injuries..
Corner is a flux position, some teams keep four, some five, I'm guessing with the question marks after Rogers I assume the team keeps five, if for no other reason due to injury history of Springs and questions of reliability for the 3-5 positions..
Springs, Smoot and Rogers are locks, I am going with Macklin right now and Jimoh but Butler has a real shot, he just has to show his injuries are behind him..
I would expect either Eubanks or Westbrook to make the practice squad as well..

OK men.. Redskins Lunch returns tomorrow from 12-1.. Joe Gibbs will be joining us weekly this fall..

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

July 24-- The DL and Vick news

From the folks I spoke with who are not in the Atlanta organization, but are in the know, Michael Vick won't be playing football again for the Falcons.. None of these people would I consider a firm source for information as such, but it's enough to put it into this blog.. Vick was going to be suspended by the Falcons, the league talked them out of this for whatever reason because they could slap a much harder punishment on the ATL QB..
What would be quite interesting is if Vick is available come next off-season having served all possible punishments and the Redskins aren't singing the jason Campbell praises.. Would Vick be a possibility here? Hmmmmm...

Onto the Skins, lets preview the DL, probably the most interestingly ignored unit on the team.. Injuries have saddled Cornelious Griffin the past two seasons, it is my belief that Joe Salave'a will not make this team and if he does, he is the back-up to the back-up to the back-up, his body is done with this business..
So Kedric Golston, who's been getting rave reveies for his off-season workouts is the prime candidate to get the nod as the starter oppostie Griffin.. Golston was a nice find last year as a 6th round pick, great motor, very aggressive and obviously wanst to learn..
Anthony Montgomery lost some weight this off-season, pudgy might be the best way to describe him a year ago.. Golston's aggressiveness also placed Montgomery in the unenviable position of trying to prove something agianst his draft mate.. This ultimately is a good thing and apparently motivated Montgomery, problem is, no one knows if he can actually play.. We'll find out this summer, he and Golston figure to see a lot of reps..

At DE, Phillip Daniels retursn healthy, or so they want you to believe, lets see the guy had surgery on just about every major joint, this past off-season specifially to one wrist and two ankles.. That doesn't sound good.. He plays hurt and can be a force when healthy, but that seems like an illogical assumption at this point of his career..
The team loves Andre Carter, they like the idea of being smaller but certainly faster on the edge.. Carter is a workout machine, he also is not exactly an everydown end without a stout middle, that's where Golston, Montgomery and Griffin need to hold up their end of the bargain.. On stretch plays, the team likes Carter's range, run right at him, and yikes..
Renaldo Wynn took a paycut and figures to be the team's primary back-up for one last season.. Wynn has never been a major prodcuer, but he's a well respected leader and one of the so called "core Skins" He also is not a selfish player and understands his time has passed even on a team that needs DL help.. I expect him to make the roster and be a fill in guy, possibly a DT if the two young guys don't step up..

Guys to watch, Chris Wilson came from the BC Lions.. In 18 games for the Grey Cup champs, he had five sacks.. The team is atking a flyer here, but they need to take some and hope they work out..
Justin Hickman is a smallish end out of UCLA that the team had some buzz about when they got him as an undrafted free agent, he has a shot.. Demetric Evans understands his role on the defense, which gives him an edge over the newcomers, but this team obviously needs difference makers and he may never be one.. I give the nod now on expereince, someone starts flashing some promise and demetric could be looking for a job..The only thing I know about jamal Green is he is from the U, which on this team obviously means something..
Ryan Boschetti has stuck on the team for a couple of seasons, they like his motor, Golston has surpassed him, he's a longshot..
The "Who?" awards go to Lorenzo Alexander out of Cal and Jared Clauss out of Iowa..

Local guy done good so far is Alex Buzbee out of Georgetown.. He's the Gregg Williams keeper so far, lighter then his listing at 265, probably more like in the 240's so we'll see if he can hold up.. Plus G'Town football doesn't typically pipeline pro players in this sport so this is a real flyer, but the team really liked what they saw during rookie camp and he figures to have a shot at practice squad bare minimum..

So If I had to guess right now, Daniels, Carter, Griffin, Golston and Montogmery are locks.. Wynn is close to a lock.. I'll take a flyer on Hickman and Buzbees as potential ends of the future and give Evans an edge as a vet..

Bottom line here though is this spot could have and in my opinion should have been addressed during the off-season, the team passed on every DT available in the draft and every DE except Gaines Adams to take Laron Landry.. Nothing against Landry but this team has an expensive secondary that might be left hung out to dry without a pass rush..
The Skins brought in no one of note to even compete for the jobs left by a line that was horrible against the run and 31st overall.. The coaches love this group, Greg Blatche has openly talked about the charcter and will of these guys.. This is beyond moral support though, this is a firm declaration by this organization that they believe last year was an anomoly for this group.. The addition of London Flecther at middle linebacker should help the run schemes and the team is looking to scheme people to him, more on that in the coming weeks..
But the line represents what appears to be the biggest weakness of this team.. There are two predominant questions heading into 2007, is jason Campbell as good as the team is suggesting he'll be? And, did the Redskins blow their chances of having a competitive defense by not addressing an aging injured defensive line?

OK men, see ya tomorrow.. Redskins Lunch returns to Triple X ESPN Radio, ESPN Radio 950 in Richmond and 102.1 FM the Game in VA Beach starting Thursday at Noon.. So tomorrow is the last Bram Weinstein show for a while.. Sad.. For me at least..

I'll also be posting a total Skins preview article on soon and will have some redesigned site features very very soon..
You can e-mail me anytime at

Friday, July 20, 2007

July 20-- Checking out the LB's

Before I hit the beach for the weekend, I figured I'd continue a look by position at the revamped linebacker core...

Gone is the potential playmaker of a LaVar, now what we have is a solid group with what appears to be some depth..
Middle lineacker is London Fletcher, a tackle machine who figures to play prominently in the overall scheme of the defense.. The lack of beef up front and questions about the overall play of the line suggests teams will continue to try to run the ball up the middle on Washington.. What the Skins believe is they have a sure tackler there now, someone who understands gap defense.. Now they hope he is their stopper while attempting to find alternate ways to get to the quarterback..

SLB is Marcus Washington, his role will change dramatically if his body can stay healthy.. Washington has hip surgery after he struggled to get through a year where during pre-game wramups in Houston, a trainer accidentally stretched his hip joint too far.. Washington is said to be 100% but I do expect the team to be very cautious with him and give him some days off.. Washington is planned to be utilized as a rush end at times hoping to find a way to generate a pass rush.. Washington was also on the Juggs gun the other day hoping to improve his skills after numerous drops of potential interceptions..

WLB is Rocky McIntosh, the way Gregg Williams spun his off-season workouts, it made it sound like he's finally come around after being releagted to the bench for the bulk of his rookie season.. This also comes off an off-seaosn where the team openly tried to replace him with Lance Briggs.. McIntosh is very quick and if he gets it, should be a help.. Lemar Marshall figures to fight him for playing time and I would assume that four linebacker will be utilized often if and when Washington plays rush end.. Are you buying what Gregg is selling on Rocky? I'm not, not until I see it.. He has been a work-a-holic this off-seaosn whihc is a good sign..

The aforementioned Marshall will make the team it's prime and most versatile back-up.. He can play any of the three positions and may indeed push Rocky for time at weakside..

Rookie HB Blades comes in with some big hype, some draft experts called him a sixth round steal.. He was the Big East defensive player of the year.. He's got NFL lineage in his family and obviously knows how to play but listed at 5-10, 236, both appearing to be generous numers, his size will be a question. Can he take the NFL punishment, will he Dexter Coakley or Sam Mills, or will be he too small to handle the rigors.. He'll be an interesting one in pre-season to watch..
USC rookie draft pick Dallas Sartz obviosuly has a decent shot of making the team as well considering the lack of true depth.. He looks more then roll then Blades, but it's Blades aggressiveness and speed that makes him a more firm candidate for actual playing time especially on special teams.. Sartz isn't particularly quick, but he has size and has played on a high level collegiate program.. I expect him to be the whipping boy for Gregg Williams this summer..
If nothing else, khary Campbell's play on special teams almost practically ensures him a job..
Kevin Jones and Matt Sinclair are longshots.. Anthony Trucks was on the practice squad for a short period of time last year, he'll need to show vast improvement to have any chance..
This race appears pretty clear cut.. Fletcher, Washington and Rocky start, when the team goes 3-4 or moves Washington up into a pass rush situation, expect a fourth LB Marshall if not having Sean Taylor a little closer to the line should Laron Landry show some promise as the centerfielder.. landry by the way is a gifted blitzer as well..
Marshall is the prime back-up.. I think Blades in in, Campbell should keep his job due to teams but could be in trouble if Blades is a teams demon and Sartz shows big time promise..

OK, have a great weekend, I'm off to the beach for a final rest before camp next Friday..

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

July 18-- Ramping up and a look at the OL

So Larry Michael and I went to dinner tonight to settle a bet and to talk about the upcoming season.. I bet Larry around week 10 that Brandon Lloyd would score one touchdown and well, I lost.. Brandon owes me dinner at the Palm now.. He's the one who got the 10 million dollar signing bonus..

We have some cool news regarding the upcoming broadcasts of Redskins Lunch which begins Thursday the 26th but I'm not supposed to talk about them so maybe I shouldn't have even brought it up.. Soon enough..

Onto the OL.. Should be an interesting race for the LG spot..

Lets get through the easy ones first, LT is Chris Samuels, RT is Jon Jansen, RG is a much healthier Randy Thomas who last summer was coming off a broken leg and though he worked his tail off through the off-season just wasn't himself at the start of the season, expect him to take it easy this summer but don't be fooled, he's in better shape then he was a summer ago..
Center is Casey rabach who isn't dealing with a bizarre injury of his own this time around either..

Not unlike a summer ago, back-ups are at major issue as the Skins move forward, but unlike last summer there is no certainty of ho will play LG.. Todd Wade was penciled in, and I say Penciled as a major overstatement now.. He is no lock whatsoever to win the job and essentially he's a stopgap until the Skins figure a better solution.. Wade is a natural tackle who performed well as the back-up to Jon Jansen when he missed the New Orleans game late last year but the fact that he resigned here when he openly discussed trying to find a tackle job says a lot.. It's been a rough transition for him.. I certainly don't blame the Skins for letting Derrick Dockery when he signed a massive contract with Buffalo, but they might have been able to sign him last summer to an extension that would have been mich less cost prohibitve.. But then again Dockery certainly didn't show his professionalism until last year, a contract year.. It turned into a catch 22..

Will Whittacker, a seocnd year guard out of Michigan State is the one to watch this summer is someone is going to step up and steal the job.. Wade is a lock to make the team as the onlt true back-up at tackle and considering the age and health situations of Samuels and Jansen the last few years, he'll probably see some snaps.. Whittacker has been the one who's been receiving the good reviews thus far and if I had to guess, he might steal the starting job..

Ross Tucker out of Princeton started his career here, he bounced around a few different places and is likely a back-up at best.. Taylor Whitely caught Joe Bugel's eye last year when they picked him up, I'll give him a maybe at this point to compete and get a roster spot.. Mike Pucillo is the back-up center and found a niche as a goal line sixth blocker, he's a keeper but not seen as a starter..Kili Lefotu was a late round pick last year who suffered a seizure in the dorms last summer and gave the team a good scare, I'm surprised he's back..Stephon Heyer is one of the massive bookends from Maryland who went undrafted, he performed very poorly at the combine, the reason no one took a chance on him, based on his size he has a chance.. Jason fabini is a ten year vet, I always like that typ of player's chances when back-up spots are on the line.. Calvin Armstrong is 6-7, that will make him stand out, but as a first year player, we'll see if he can play..

Right now If I had to guess, the intial four, jansen, Smuels, Rabach and Thomas are locks, I'm going to go on a hunch and say Whittacker steals the LG spot.. Back-ups are definitively Wade and Pucillo, probably Fabini and then, well, take your pick, probably Whitley right now.. This thing is way up for grabs and the truth is depth remains an even bigger issue as everyone just got a year older.. Like a season ago, the health of the line will be an integral part of whether the team can remain competitive..

OK men..

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

July 17-- A look at the WR's

No news today, with only 1 first round draft pick signed in the league thus far, the Skins are likely to wait to see how Laron Landry at 6 is slotted before committing anything to him.. This is pretty much par for the course annually, unlike the NBA, there is no cap limit on the first round pick contracts.. The NFL might be well instructed to try to get that into a future bargaining agreement considering there is always a litany of early camp holdouts due to their signing process..

The WR's are an interesting bunch, in some ways underachieved, and then in other ways showed potential.. The Skins appeared non-plussed about the lack of a true possession WR, they did offer Keenan McCardell a league minimum deal last month, the Texans did as well (McCardell lives in Houston) so he ha a choice to make.. But considering he need not be in a rush to get to anyone's camp McCradell might be wise to sit back and wait to see who gets an injury in camp and then may be in line for a better payday plus skip as much of camp as he has to.. The Skins certainly aren;t the favorite here, but he certainly would be a help in my opinion pushing the younger players and Brandon Lloyd..

Number 1-- Santana Moss, unquestioned.. The only serious hang up is the fact that he has a penchant to get leg injuries, specifically groin and hamstring.. When healthy, Moss is uncoverable and has some of the best hands and ball adjustment skills I've seen.. His health is key for this team not seeing 8-9 men in the box.. He's the threat that forces teams to play Jason campbell staright up.. Moss missed a lot of OTA work and the mini-camp dealing with a slight hamstring strain and groin pull.. The team was being careful with him and not wanting it to turn into anything more so they essentially rested him.. His history of hamstring issues is the reason the jets made the move to reacquire Laveranues Coles from Washington.. Moss may not look like a number one, but he is, a threat to have the highest yards per catch average in the league when healthy..

Number 2-- This one is very much up for debate, but Brandon Lloyd plays the position so I guess he gets the nod.. Team management went out of it's way to praise Lloyd's off-season work and the condition he is in.. That's never been his problem, Lloyd is a workout fiend and health nut, he remains constantly in top shape.. The rumor is he has gained some weight which should help him be a little more aggressive.. If Moss is the team's best potential play maker, Lloyd is a close second with phenominal hands and great leaping ability, but keeping his head in the game is a problem.. He had issues with his coaches calling out WR coach Stan Hixon for not knowing why he was benched late in the season, had RB Clinton Portis call him out publicly for being a problem in the locker room, even Moss had little kind stuff to say about him and that's saying a lot considering Moss is as PC as it comes when talking about teammates..
This guy has to come back and get on board with the program.. One unnamed member of the organization used to refer to him as "Slapdick" last season.. Lloyd had private meetings with Joe Gibbs, never a good sign because if Gibbs is revealing he had to take you aside then you have to be a huge disturbence.. Lloyd had no TD's a year ago, maybe a second year in the O and an obvious off-season dedication to tuning his body will help him forget year one in DC.. The Skins did little with the WR position starpped with his 10 million dollar bonus as a cap albatross should they have wanted to part ways.. The two are stuck with one another, hopefully, the results will be better..

Number 3-- Antwaan Randle-El, an extremely well liked figure in the locker room who has broadcasting aspirations ahead of him.. He was what the Skins thought he'd be, the change of pace match-up problem for the defense.,. His punt return ability is also very threatening, a bit of a risk taker, but then again he's getting paid a lot to be a utility man so why not let him use a little of his ability.. Randle-El will never post big WR numbers, one because he plays the slot, two because this team is run first, three, he's not supposed to, he's the guy who gets 3 catches for 68 yards including a 30 yarder and you're happy.. In that regard with another year under Al saunders, I'm expecting Randle-El to figure more prominently, he's going to steal a couple of games for this team before this year is over..

Number 4-- Tough call, but by default James Thrash, true professional, fabulous special teamer, not a good replacement should one of the top 3 get hurt.. Thrash isn't as quick as he used to be.. Certainly he knows what he's doing but the drop off is precipitous when he comes in as a WR especially in the Moss or Lloyd positions..

Number 5- Would likely be McCardell if he signs if for nothing else, insurance if Lloyd blows a gasket or an injury occurs.. This team could use a possession WR veteran to solidify the core.. If he signs elsewhere, probably Mike Espy right now.. he was a nice surprise in camp last summer.. The talent isn't jumping off the field at you, but hard work can pay off.. He is well liked by the coaches and may get the spot by default.. Steven Harris would have had a shot if he didn't blow out a knee ligamen during mini-camp.. He's on IR..
Jason Mcaddely, jason Willis and Burl Toler (just signed from NFL Europa) at least have some NFL expeience.. Maryland WR Dan Melendez is a long shot as are Carl Berman and Kyle Brown.. Ryan Hoag comes from the most obscure place ever, Gustavos Adolphus, I'm rooting for im just I can say Gustavus Adolphus daily..
The five spot on this roster, assuming they keep five WR's is wide open in my opinion, should an able bodied vet get cut during camp, the Redskins almost have to look at him..

OK men.. See you tomorrow..

Monday, July 16, 2007

July 16-- Draft picks sign and I'm back for good

OK OK, vacation is officially over for me.. So it's back to doing the blog for the upcoming 2007 season.. I promise to get back to the grind daily..
11 days away from training camp the Skins news of the day was the official signing of 3 late round draft picks, Carson Palmer's quarterbacking brother Jordan, and LB's HB Blades and Dallas Sartz..
The team also released former Maryland quarterback Sam Hollenbach.. To be perfectly honest, I was stunned he was kept around following mini-camps.. It's one less body for what should turn into an interesting competition for the third QB spot between Todd Collins, Palmer and NFL Europa's final Wold Bowl MVP Casey Bramlet.. I'd lay the odds on this one right now at 50% Collins, 45% Bramlett and 5% Palmer with Palmer a candidate for practice squad..

As we lead up to training camp, lets do a position by position breakdown.. Lets start today at RB..
The positions are pretty much set, Clinton Portis (assuming 100% health) comes in the starter.. I know you saw Ladell Betts do practically remarkable things when Portis ended the season on IR.. But the Al Saunders offense returns this fall, the team may incorporate more of the Gibbs power run attack, but the essence of the offense is more finesse then push, at least under Saunders.. In that regard, with more stretch plays, pitch outs and the like, Portis is the home run hitter who fits the mold.. He also is a better pass blocker.. Now if only we could work on his hands as a pass WR and maybe he'd become the Marshall Faulk esque threat Saunders would love him to be.. The team won't push Portis this summer, he'll take time off to ensure the tendonitis in his knee is cleared up and certainly are hopeful nothing freakish like the subluxation of his shoulder happens again..
Number 2 is Betts, proven to be a good change of pace for Portis.. Should the Skins get leads, and I think that's a possibility this year with a more wide open and dangerous offense, Betts might be the workhorse who grinds out games ala Gibbs style.. Get a lead, punch them in the mouth, this is where the Saunders-Gibbs marraige might just work.. That of course is predicated on them getting leads which ultimately will have a lot to do with whether the defense improves, but that's another story for another day..
What Betts certainly proved is he can be a number one (fumbleitis aside) and I would expct to see more change of pace to help profile both players styles.. But this is not a debate, more of an ability to give Portis a much needed break.. Betts is the number 2..
Number 3 is definitively Rock Cartwright who solidified himself as a potent return man on kickoffs not unlike the way Betts did the season prior.. Give Special teams coach Danny Smith this, neither Betts nor Cartwright were particualrly proficient at kickoff returns yet both became viable options for the team.. Cartwright's speed and versatility makes him what Joe Gibbs calls a true Redskin.. I think this year we won't be talking about whether Rock makes the team or not..
Number 4 is Derrick Blaylock.. He's a cheap insurance policy.. The former Chief had a nice stint as the back-up to Priest Holmes under the Saunders system when Holmes's career was on the deline.. He signed a free agent deal with the Jets which went nowhere.. This is the right spot for him, he just needs some help finding a roster spot with the people ahead of him.. Should a pre-season injury occur, Blaylock is a better option then a TJ Duckett.. Ultimately, if he's on the roster, something went wrong..
Youngstown State RB Marcus Mason has little to no chance of cracking the roster..

At FB Mike Sellars is a stalwart, a devastating blocker and a team leader and clown all at the same time.. Should Sellars get injured there is no replacement.. Pete Schmidt is a rookie from Wisconsin-Whitewater, I'm expecting him to have a difficult track to steal a spot but with Nehemiah Broughton on IR after a mini-camp injury he'll have to be watched.. If there is an injury to Sellars, it will be interesting to see if the team searches for a true fullback or converts one of their many young TE's including seventh round pick Tyler Ecker who's a blocker first..

Programming note for those of you who listen to Triple X ESPN Radio, ESPN Radio 950 in Richmond and 102.1 FM the Game Virginia Beach, 12-1 PM will revert to Redskins Lunch with me and Larry Michael starting Thursday July 26th, the day prior to the start of training camp..
You can read more at where I will have interviews, articles, pictures and more.. You can always e-mail me at

One final thought, Bears LB Lance Briggs and Patriots CB Asante Samuel did not sign long term extensions with their team meaning they must play this season under the franchised tender offer of one year.. Both players have stated they plan to hold out until week 10 under those terms.. The Skins obviously attempted to trade for Briggs and it woulnd't surprise me for a second if the Skins found long term interest in Samuel considering this is liekly Shawn Springs last season with the team.. And as we have all learned in the Dan Snyder era, anything can happen.. If there is an injury at CB or LB this summer, expect the Skins to be dangling next year's draft picks..

See you tomorrow..
Bram Weinstein