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Samuels: Something to Prove

By Gary Fitzgerald



Chris Samuels has become a regular presence at Redskins Park this offseason, putting in extra time in the weight room as well as the classroom learning the offense's new blocking schemes.

The 6-5, 310-pounder is eager to put a disappointing 2003 season behind him.

Joe Bugel, assistant head coach-offense and the architect of 'The Hogs' offensive line of the 1980s, has noticed Samuels' renewed approach. Bugel believes Samuels is working as if he has a chip on his shoulder.

Responded Samuels: "I have a boulder on my shoulder. I just feel like I have something to prove. I have to get back to where I should be. I feel like I struggled last year and it was hard on me mentally because I know what type of player I am and what type of player I can be."

Samuels is entering his fifth NFL season since the Redskins selected him with the third overall pick in the 2000 draft. He participated in some positional drills at last weekend's mini-camp, but since he recently had off-season shoulder surgery, he mostly sat out contact drills.

"I'm just working out--the same routine as everybody else, but a little extra here and there," Samuels said. "My shoulder feels pretty good, but we're just letting it heal up."

Throughout his career, Samuels has always been steady and reliable. At Alabama, he did not yield a sack in his final 42 games, earning him the Outland Trophy award as college football's top lineman in his senior year. In the NFL, Samuels picked up right where he left off, starting all 16 games in his rookie season. In 2001-02, he earned Pro Bowl trips.

Last season, opponents attempted to disrupt the Redskins' passing offense by employing heavy blitz packages. Bugel, who returned to the Redskins last January when Joe Gibbs was rehired as head coach, said he has noted that NFL defenses are "more tenacious" than ever and that offensive linemen need to be able to identify and adjust to blitzes quickly.

Said Bugel: "It used to be when you lined up it was your seven against their seven. Now they're lining up 11 people on the line of scrimmage and they're blitzing. They're very aggressive. You better be able to get the football of and you better be able to protect."

Samuels knows that's his job. Last season's struggles were a matter of execution, he said.

"We just didn't execute well last year--really the last two seasons," Samuels said. "I think everybody struggled. Only a few of us had great seasons."

Late in the year, Samuels sat out three games with a knee injury, but he still came back to start the last two games of the season. Overall, his play was still good enough to earn him a nod as a third alternate to the Pro Bowl.

Samuels has higher standards--and he knows he'll need to elevate his play with such defensive ends as Simeon Rice, Jevon Kearse and Marcellus Wiley on the Redskins' 2004 schedule.

As with all of the offensive linemen, Bugel has certainly made an impression on Samuels. He brings an old-school approach to offensive line play and with that comes a return to the fundamentals.

"This year, I'm focusing down and working harder," he said. "There's a focus on the fundamentals this year, so I'm going back to square one and working harder this offseason.

"I really like the coaching staff--they're preparing me well. So I'm expecting a big season."

Added right tackle Jon Jansen: "I think Chris is as excited as everybody else to play under Coach [Joe] Gibbs and Coach Bugel."

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how can anyone reconcile the comments of the players since January with the hiring of Gibbs with the statement by Champ Bailey on is way out the door that the Redskins would have been fine if they had just been willing to listen to Spurrier and do what he asked? :)

I wonder how Gibbs and Co. are able to get the players to listen in the first place?

Doesn't that say something about their abilities even before we get to the X's and O's? :D

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Originally posted by skin_finatic

Portis and Whoever the qb is will reek all the benefits :)

:laugh: Man, I really hope that's a typo and you haven't gone through life thinking it was "reek the benefits" and not "REEP the benefits."

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Most of the Offensive Lineman were playing somewhat timid last year. Thanks to other teams recognizing Spurrier's weakest points. In return, the lineman and the undersized backs were unable to block at points of attack and Spurrier was unable to adjust for a long period of time.

It took for the Offensive Coodinator to finally step up and tell Spurrier he needs to implement better blocking schemes. Spurrier had a very large ego and had to be beaten into oblivion by defenses creaming his QB to finally adhere to what everyone was saying, witnessing and feeling.

So the OL was playing timid, not knowing if the bleeding was gonna ever stop. Or if the coaching staff, the ones coaching and telling you what to do, would ever help them find a remedy. It was a mental laspe by almost the entire OL at one point. A OL that was in the midst of shattering the NFL record for the most sacks allowed by a football team in one year.

It was so sad at one point I had to laugh it off during the season. And the laughter wasn't from it being funny, but to merely keep me from crying at one point.

We will see a dramatic improvement on the OL, mark my words.

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