A half day off can be like a whole day off
Monday 3 August 2009 | forty-one days until kickoff
Washington Post Training Camp Tracker: longshot rookie free agent center Edwin Williams, like fellow rookie free agent Scott Burley, played at University of Maryland and was also a teammate of offensive tackle Stephon Heyer, there is no other dedicated center in camp; injuries; Jim Zorn is quote just trying to catch up with blog. I haven't quite got to Twitter yet unquote. Hey coach let me know if you need some help.
Washington Times Training Camp Report: practice was fast paced today; Chad Rinehart played some right guard with the first team; another bomb was dropped, this one by Antwaan Randle El; defensive end Alex Buzbee on returning to the field for the first time since tearing his Achilles on the first day of 2008 camp.
A one practice day today in the heat, in the afternoon in shirts and shells with little contact, the first day of camp with no two a days scheduled.
Continuing a theme on how to improve the running game within itself, meaning how better to use players in the scheme, secondary, note I did not refer to him as backup, tailback Ladell Betts will have a larger role spelling primary tailback Clinton Portis. One area this might be seen immediately is on third downs in passing situations, Ladell coming in for Clinton (ibid.). The stat referenced in the Washington Post piece is Ladell's 53 catches from 2006, a three year old stat, I thought Clinton was a pretty good pass catcher so I do not fully understand this. This might be the world's largest white glove gently removing the last of Clinton's enormous sense of entitlement as it pertains to coming in and out of games, in reality I would expect the rotation not to track to specific down, distance or scoring situations but rather to timing situtations with Ladell taking the field at predictable times, such as start of second quarter, midway through fourth, etc.
Matt Terl at the ORB (Official Redskins Blog) saw an offense that was looking crisper. I hope he did not mean crispier. Matt also echoes discussion here from yesterday, that the disparity between the offense and the defense may be structural.
Second year receiver Devin Thomas continues to draw praise, something I am a little worried about, nonetheless I want to believe it, the coaches seem to think Devin can be the starting Z receiver in this offense (ibid.). Wait, what? Isn't that Santana Moss' position, the Z receiver? Or is he the X? So that means Devin Thomas is presumably moving into the number one receiving spot. Really. See bottom of post for more thoughts on this. For the second day in a row Devin missed a catchable ball deep (op. cit.). This is our deep threat?
Second year offensive guard Chad Rinehart is still not ready to play on an NFL offensive line. John Keim thinks perhaps newly acquired Jeremy Bridges is more suited to guard than tackle and would be a better backup to right guard Randy Thomas than Chad (ibid.). John is really harping on this at this point. Mike Williams had a good session at right tackle.
Veteran receiver Roydell Williams, in a five way fight for the fifth receiver spot, had surgery to insert a plate into his pinkie (ibid.) injured yesterday, that is not good news for Roydell, the pinkie is pretty small and it must be a relatively significant injury if they needed to plate it. He could be out two weeks, I think this spells the end for Roydell at Redskins camp, there are too many other players vying for that spot for them to let him sit out until day nineteen.
The team and prize acquisition defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth played down the significance of Albert's injection of something called Synvisc which sounds suspiciously like Soylent, something about it being similar to knee fluid, whatever that is, and how it cushions the knee like a... brace? against any grinding going on. Wait, what? Grinding? This sounds fishy to me, Chris Mottram at Mister Irrelevant is not so worried and links to the full text of coach Zorn's afternoon press conference where he mentions there are other players doing it which I guess does not make it bad that... the team's highest paid player is already subject to the needle four days into camp? Ryan O'Halloran at the Washington Times did some homework on Synvisc and it is not a routine treatment, it is for arthritic knees that have failed to responde to quote more conservative therapies unquote (op. cit.). I have a feeling there is a growing number of I told you so's out there waiting for Albert to start missing games early.
Second year strong safety Chris Horton is ready for prime time, the game is slowing down for him, if he progresses into his second year as good players do he is on his way to future Pro Bowls, even if he does not and simply keeps his nose for the ball he will win the starting job, seriously, go back and look at game film from after Chris took the job from Reed Doughty, he is somewhere near the ball on every replay.
Cornerback Fred Smoot, a nine year NFL veteran, appears to be moving into more of a leadership role. He walked the cornerback squad with Matt Terl (ibid.). John Keim at The Washngton Examiner looks at linebackers and writes that middle linebacker London Fletcher will be the big winner with Albert Haynesworth's arrival.
Brian Murphy at Homer McFanboy published a great interview with left tackle Chris Samuels, his feelings on Brian's chances for greatness are the centerpiece.
Cornerback Carlos Rogers, who strained his left calf on day three, did not practice at all for the second day in a row (op. cit.). Two days with no practice? I know Carlos is a veteran and all, if it goes to three days I will put a flag on this in my book, neither he nor Albert Haynesworth seem concerned. Defensive tackle Anthony Montgomery was also out with a knee for the second straight day (op. cit.).
Overall the theme continues, this really good defense from 2008 needs to get better in 2009.
New punter acquisition Hunter the Punter Smith is very consistent if not accurate (op. cit.).
I know these terms are fluid and refer to schemes not players but help me out if I am missing something with the whole Devin Thomas is the Z receiver thing. The Z is the speed guy, he lines up behind the line of scrimmage on the same side as the tight end in part so he can go into motion, evade jams at the line or get a jump on his route. His routes are the most vertical and forces the safety to cheat over to provide assistance over the top to the cornerback. This has unquestionably been Santana Moss' position since he got here, and it was Laveranues Coles' before that.
The X receiver lines up on the opposite side of the Z and the tight end right on the line of scrimmage. He is a more physical receiver, expecting to get jammed at the line, and has hands strong enough to pull in a ball while physically engaged with a defender. The X often sets up a run block at the snap or a downfield block when a ball carrier trails or comes through the middle. This has been James Thrash's position, James retired in the offseason.
The Y receiver sometimes refers to the tight end though in most modern NFL parlance, where the tight ends rarely line up wide or in the slot, mainly refers to the slot receiver. He goes in motion regularly and can spoof either other receiver position from the slot. He moves side to side past the line of scrimmage on slants and crossing routes, exploiting short gaps underneath and zone seams down the center of the field. This is Antwaan Randle El's natural position.
Where does everyone line up in the new configuration? I am not sure Santana is physical enough to play the X, he is the deep threat and cornerbacks get tired just from looking at him. Devin may be teh new thing, Santana will continue to be this team's deep threat.
The Redskins do not plan to institute fines or disciplinary measures for players that Tweet in team scenarios. No surprise, number one because Jim Zorn is a players coach and would not dare take away his kids toys and number two because there are a lot of media savvy players on a team owned by a guy that thinks he is media savvy. Dan Snyder knows players Tweeting is free pub for the Redskins.
The Redskins defense: AP photo from here.