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2006 Rookie Camp -- Day One Observations from Redskins Park


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Kept an audio log during yesterday’s first day of rookie camp … recording brief impressions and vignettes. Some player detail, some free associations, some off-the-cuff stuff and probably some silliness. Please don’t mistake this for a “scouting report.” This is a fan’s eye view.

ES 2006 Rookie Camp vignettes, for your perusal:

DRILLS (simultaneous)

* SNAPS. Center, two guards, H-back starts behind and moves to the slot pre-snap. Same groups of guys repeat drill 3-4 times. Coaches telling them what to look for—how to eyeball the snap from the corner of their eyes, what to be looking for from the D, etc. Coach calls out snap count, the explode together (or not), then reassemble quickly and do it again.

* WIDE RECEIVERS. On the far field, one receiver working on release off the line against 2 DB’s. Coaches timing WR release with stopwatch.

#84 WR Drouzen Quillen, big at 6’5” looks the part of “possession” guy. First impression … “looks great in the uniform. If he can play …” Then “oops.” Slow, tentative release off line, thinking about splitting DB’s but too hesitant and not strong enough.

Quillen again … “84 can’t get off the line, but tell you what; once he gets moving he can go.”

Random quote from our left (offensive line coach?): “Keep yourselves small and play with leverage.”

Joe Gibbs standing alone at 50 yard line, arms crossed. Taking it all in. One wonders what it feels like to carry the lifelong dreams of so many young athletes on your shoulders. Not to mention those of about 10 million fans.

* PUNT RETURNS. Jugs maching lofing balls from far left, one returner dirently in front of us, 5 guys closing on him.

#31 RB Mike Imoh (VT) takes about 3 steps backwards after fielding punt, gets hemmed in. “He’s solid (looking), but his waist looks like it’s about 18 inches off the ground. Legs that look like tree trunks.”

Imoh again … more backwards steps. “He’s trying too hard.”

OFFENSE. QB’s on another section of far field, going what looks like 7 on 7, taking snap, dropping, firing to EZ. Red Zone stuff.

#5 QB Brandon Kirsch taking snaps.

#32 CB Anotimus Wise makes strong play in back of EZ (“strong physical play off the line”).

#46 TE Chris Royal makes “nice catch in traffic”…then “disregard, breakdown in coverage.” Lighten up, Om. The man caught it.

[Observation: “With all these bodies here, you can’t MAKE the team today, but you can probably get cut. Even from the layman’s perspective, you can see certain guys who look and move like professional athletes. Others do not. If we can see it, we know the coaches can see it.”]

* 11 ON AIR: Bugel about 5 yds. deep in D backfield, supervising OL. Going at “maybe half speed, blocking air. Tough to judge who can play in the NFL this way.” Two officials monitoring LOS from either side of field.

Al Saunders:

“Run into the end zone, finish the play!” Very emphatic.

“Start and finish!

“Don’t compromise on tempo.”

“Every time you do something, put your signature on it.”

[Observation: “We will not read any significance into the buzzards circling overhead.”

Note: hawks, actually. But still.]

* LINEBACKERS. Backpedalling drill. Snap, 2-3 step drop, coach whips a ball at them, they snare and return it toward EZ.

#52 Rocky McIntosh. First play, first impression. “****. He dropped the damn ball.”

Later, shadow/mirror drill. Two face to face, helmets almost touching, sliding left and right with chop steps, matching tempo. You’d be tempted to laugh, except then you remember these guys are 6’3”, 240 lb. kegs of dynamite. So you don’t.

* BLOCKING SLED. Linemen only.

#94 DT Anthony Montgomery. “One very large human.” As noted in other report, Montgomery the only lineman to get individual coaching attention during this drill. Working on hand placement.

[Observation: “How many rookies does it take to move a blocking sled? Apparently, all of them.”]

#93 DT Mike Moore. “93 is huge … maybe too huge? Round.”

#77 DT Chris Tucker and #71 DT Arthur Orlebar. “Balance issues. Slipping. Playing too high?”

#92 DT Chris Mineo “looking good.”

#99 DT Brandon Villareal “won’t be here by the end of the weekend” (Ouch. If you’re reading this, Mr. Villareal … John made me say that.)

Random quote … Gregg Williams to our far left, to defensive backfield players:

(Paraphrasing) “Look right, do right. If you look right, you’ll do right. If you don’t, you’ll be outta here.”



Going to simply add these in … bunch of impressions and quick reactions.

* Earnest Byner earned some “regular guy” points. Running backs were sprinting out to the right flat for a quick pass and taking the bullet pass from EB. He missed low on a couple in a row, and was all about “my bad, I ****ed that one up.” No worries on loss of quality practice time for the rooks, btw … the rest from there on out were dead on. Just pretty damn cool to see a Super Bowl champion mixing it up and being humble with a group of guys whose faces, as of today, you’d not pick out of a lineup. I’d play for EB.

* #31 CB Michael West has ball bounce off his hands. No excuse. As we keep saying, you can’t MAKE the team today, but you can sure speed your way OFF it by losing focus. Only so many opportunities to catch a coach’s eye. When you do, you don’t want it to be one where he’s thinking in four-letter words.

* #25 CB Roland Humphrey catches my partner JimmiJo’s eye. We’ll assume it was for a good play ...

Observation: “The press, interestingly, is gathered around talking about the Wizards game.” This was not isolated. It was a very small group to begin with, and most of them, for pretty much the whole time, were not really watching. Clearly the assignment, or at least the approach, is different on the first day of rookie camp for the guys who HAVE to be there as opposed to the guys who WANT to be there. I know it’s old hat to those guys and all, but it definitely resonated. Aren’t they there working for US? Just sayin’.


Interesting drill … two huge hula-hoops (probably 8 feet in diamter) on the ground about a yard apart. Lineman in stance, coach calls snap count. Player releases, goes between the 2 hoops and digs hard around the outside of one, 270 degrees, then sprints away. Coming up out of their stance, a coach stands inside the hoop and holds out two large foam rubber mallets, one high, one low. Player has to swat them both hard, first low, then high, using opposite hands, all the while digging hard in a tight circle. TOUGH drill. Need balance, hand-eye, low center, quicks. Especially whey you’re 320 pounds.

#96 DE Joe Sykjes “working hard. Good leverage, keeps his body low.”

#97 DT Robby Valenzuela knocks a paddle out of the coach’s hand. Strong work.


#12 QB Darrell Nesbitt “rifles one.” I generally try to avoid cliches, but it’s apt here. That ball hummed.

#5 QB Brandon Kirsch alse gets noted for showing some arm.

* Observation: (talking about guys having a chance at making the team) “very few wideouts have a chance to make this team. You see a guy like #18 Jakari Wallace out of Minnesota … 5’8”, 172. Nifty hands, fairly quick feet. You just wonder if he’s even got a chance.”

#49 LB Spencer Havner unfortunate first impression. Beaten cleanly off line by RB and can’t catch up.

#59 LB Ray Henderson gets smoked by #40 FB AJ Harris (who flashes a couple times today)

#17 WR Mike Espy ran the wrong pattern. Deep in, but QB went over the top up the left sideline. “My guess is the QB got that one right.”

#47 LB Jermaine Walker “did NOT do a good job containing, RB got off the line clean.”

#85 WR Andre Thurman works hard up the near sideline, twice. Gets good position and makes strong plays on the ball. Man stood out to both of us all day. Guy who has been in an NFL camp before (NY Jets), and it shows. All business, flying around and leaving nothing in the locker room. One to keep an eye on.

#37 S Reed Doughty gets beat on an out by a TE (Brandon Sebald) who is HUGE (6’6”, 251). Doughty reminds one of Matt Bowen in his uniform, but will need to dial it up a bit to take the comparison any further.

#52 LB Rocky McIntosh’s one “bad” play of the day … aforementioned FB AJ Harris (hmm) beats him clean on an out, then reverses field and gets away again. “Tough position to put a rook LB in, though. That Harris is pretty quick.” Good news is, we both agree Rocky was closing as they sprinted upfield.

* Random Quotes, Al Saunders:

“That’s Redskins football!” The first time the man has been on a Redskins field. Interesting.

“Play with an attitude!”

#59 LB Ray Henderson picks off Brandon Kirsch over the middle. Bad decision by QB, lobbed it into traffic.

#80 WR Glen Holt snags nice ball. Crossing left, ball is high and behind. Twists in the air, reaches back with both hands, makes the catch, secures and then holds on when he hits the ground. Definition of “flashing” for the coaches.

QB Kirsch “redeems” himself a bit. Two straight very nice balls over the middle, to pretty well convered guys. What you’re supposed to do after falling off the horse.

* HOF Head Coach Joe Gibbs separates from some coaches he’s been talking to at the back of the zone far right, and strides purposefully toward the tree line. Some things can’t wait.

#90 TE Brandon Sebald gets props from Al Saunders. Catches a nice 15-yard out, turns upfield and gets free. Saunders is right behind him 20-yards downfield, letting him know he did a great job. Credits “quicks” on the play for the success. Worth repeating: Sebald, the 6’6”, 251 lb TE, getting loud props for his “quicks.”

LB Spencer Havner makes nice play, get’s “sack” on QB with quick, decisive close.

#30 RB Brett Biggs doubles up. First get’s beat on a deep out by #17 WR Mike Espy, then follows it up by grabbing his helmet in frustration rather than touching the man down. Espy’s up and running. Not good. For one of them anyway.

#87 WR Jon Doucette makes an unfortunate drop, wide open up the deep middle. No where to hide on that one.

* Observation: “Tell you what, Vinny Cerrato’s been working out.” It’s true. The man’s lean and mean. Figure someone will find a way to somehow twist that into a bad thing (“he should be scouting, man, not doing lat pulls”), but I’m thinking the man deserves to have this mentioned. Looking good, Vinny.


After practice, most players head toward the showers en masse. Notably held behind on the field are all draftees and select UDFA’s. No documentation on this, but my guess is, this being their first “official” appearance as Washington Redskins, they are being coached up about both what TO expect from the media, and what is expected of them in dealing with the media.

Joe Gibbs holds court briefly. Patient, but clearly more interested in heading in to review film and see who did what, than answering “so who looked good today, coach?” questions from pros who know by now what his answer’s gonna be. I see the man eyeing the feathered X on my cap. I brace for Possible Interaction, but the moment passes and he’s gone.

Yeah, but for a second there … :)


That’s it for Day One stuff. Day Two is in the books and far more timely now. Enjoy.


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OM, I know this is only Rookie camp, and you stated that some look like pros and others don't, but as a fan, do you see some good things happening; good potential?

Just curious. Thanks for the updates.

Absolutely there are good things happening.

Overall, these guys are getting indoctrinated from Minute One in the Redskin Way. The coaches and atmosphere are dead serious, totally professional and VERY vocal. The attention to detail jumps out right off. Foot placement, where they should be looking, what they should be thinking. I guarantee you that not one of those guys showed up TODAY, after going through that yesterday, figuring they could coast through this thing. Not only is the eye in the sky working, but the coaches are all over every little aspect.

Some of the best things to me were ... watching guys getting coached; both in terms of what that suggests about the coaches, and what is expected of the players. Also, seeing the degree of focus on the part of so many of the players. There were only a few I saw all day who simply didn't look like they were giving every bit they had to give. Those guys will be gone quickly, and that lesson will not be lost on the rest.

And you see SPEED. The WR's and DB's look like an athletic group; most are quick off the line and have notable top-end. I've been to enough camps now to know that you don't always get that sense of speed ... I did yesterday.

The thing I wish I could tell you MORE about is line play. Depth along the OL and DL may well dictate just how far the team goes this year ... but we won't know about any of these guys "for real" until they suit up and go full bore in full pads in training camp. Until then, all we can do is look for signs of physical presence, athleticism and effort. And there was plenty of that out there ... one or two guys didn't seem to be leaving it all out there, but everybody else did. Until we can start measuring their heart and quicks and stamina when it gets real later this offseason, that's going to have to be enough to tide us over.

Now back to these silly notes. Back soon ... :)

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Observation: “The press, interestingly, is gathered around talking about the Wizards game.” This was not isolated. It was a very small group to begin with, and most of them, for pretty much the whole time, were not really watching. Clearly the assignment, or at least the approach, is different on the first day of rookie camp for the guys who HAVE to be there as opposed to the guys who WANT to be there. I know it’s old hat to those guys and all, but it definitely resonated. Aren’t they there working for US?

There's a HUGE difference. I can only imagine how these guys are at a rookie camp, feeling put out by it and upset they are forced to cover something no one cares about. They become cynics of the highest order and hate their jobs, therefore beats. They never fully grasp just how good they have it :).

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One last blurb to add that almost got away ...

Defensive Drill.

Eleven defensive players vs. Gregg Williams and one RB in the right flat. Williams simulates snap, fires ball to RB, and all defensive players converge. Gotta be about flow to the ball, angles and/ro staying in lanes. Can't even imaging what is looks like from the RB's standpoint. “High paid smear-the-queer.”


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Saunders is amazing....Om's dead-on. You guys are going to love him - a total fireball out there. I really think he shares Gibbs/Williams philosophy, which is, when you're on that field, any field, in a Redskins uniform, you'd better leave it all out there. Whether its a rookie mini-camp, or a playoff game, doesn't matter. Saunders continued to scream bloody murder today when guys stopped on plays. 'All the way to the endzone!!!' was a frequent refrain. And he was equally effusive when someone made a great play.

We have the best coaching staff in the NFL guys. And this offseason, it got even better :cheers:

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