Sunday, August 8, 2010

Training Camp Report 8/7/10

-(Writer's Note) I'm going to do my day at Training Camp in two parts. Part 1 (Training Camp Report) will focus on the actual practice and my thoughts on the Skins based on what I saw. Part 2 (My Day at Training Camp) will focus on my day there and all the sights and sounds of Fan Appreciation Day.
Also, click on the pictures for a higher resolution. 
(All photos in this post taken by Walking Deadman)

Outlook and Atmosphere
One of the questions I was asked about camp was about the overall energy and feel of the team. I would say the answer is clearly upbeat and motivated. According to the training camp schedule, practice was to start at noon and proceed for 90 minutes. I saw players out on the field as early as 11:35AM and the practice didn't end until 2PM. Maybe this was to get some extra snaps, maybe this was to give the fans (approx. 29,000 plus according to the Redskins) a little extra as thanks for coming. For all I know, the schedule was wrong. Either way, the players were on the field early and stayed late. All good signs of a team that has bought in to their coach's philosophy.
(Graham Gano was the 1st player on the field)
The team seemed to come out focused and motivated. There was a rhythm to how things went. Units split up and did individual drills (some on the field facing me, other on the field- I missed many of the defensive drills but saw a lot of special teams). There was a time clock and a play clock for certain 7 on 7 and 11 on 11 drills. Each drill ended with the blast of an air horn signaling the team to move to their next drill. While many will note the players jogging to their next spot on the field, what impressed me the most was the staff. No, not the coaching staff but the assistants and waterboys. When the airhorn blew, many of these guys ran full speed, grabbing coolers or pushing carts and moving them to their next destination coinciding with whatever drill the Skins planned next. It almost looked like a race. Mike Shanahan has everything choreographed down to where the coolers should be located. That is impressive. None of the players/coaches/staff seemed the least bit affected by the extra fans or the crowd noise. It was like there was nobody there except the players, coaches and the task at hand.

Mike Shanahan is Stoic
(Coach Shanahan watches Gano attempt a FG)
I had heard/read reports on Shanahan from various sources (Skinscast being one that comes to mind) as a coach that watches the practices more than interact and later addresses performance (both good and bad) during film sessions and meetings. That seemed to be the case today as he watched practice taking mental notes. Same could be said about D-coordinator Jim Haslett. Pretty much, they looked on from a distance and let the position coaches coach their players.
(Coach Haslett watching the drills)

It's interesting to note that coach Shanahan was intently watching the special teams drills today. Special teams played a major role in  at least three of our losses (Dallas, New Orleans, Carolina) last year and just didn't look that great overall. Hopefully, it will be much better this season.

Special Teams
Since I got to see the ST drills the most, I'll talk about them briefly. There's been a good deal mentioned about kicker Graham Gano and I can see why. He has a cannon for a leg. Every kick he made had plenty of distance. I expect a few touchbacks this season with Gano doing kickoffs. Many have said he's been almost perfect as well in his FG attempts. He missed 2 (or was it 3?) today in the drills (both wide left) but overall looked good. Josh Bidwell made some good punts (very nice hang time and decent distance) but some were line drives and shanks (nice hang but very, very short). Didn't see any work on kick offs, but I did get a chance to watch some punt returns. Looks like the group in contention consists of Terrence Austin, Brandon Banks, Phillip Buchanon, DeAngelo Hall and Santana Moss (I think Anthony Armstrong may have been in the mix as well). Hall only took a few snaps. Buchanon made all of his catches. Moss muffed a few to the dismay of the crowd. Banks and Austin look like they have the most potential based on speed and agility but also dropped a few. Keep an eye on Banks in the preseason. Because of his height it's hard to see him in a crowd. If he can get into open space with a cut.....he will be very, very hard to catch.
(Phillip Buchanon awaits a punt, Brandon Banks gets ready to go again)

Like I said before, I didn't get to see as much of the D drills. But I can tell you that our D-line looks pretty impressive. They gave the O-line fits in some of the drills I saw and this was without Haynesworth. Expect to see teams have many problems running inside on us. I was asked to keep an eye on London Fletcher and see how he was handling the 3-4. He looks fine as far as I can tell and is still a tackling machine (this is a no tackling practice, but Fletcher had a guy wrapped up on a play anyway, but let him go). Plus, the Skins have a great deal of player movement. It really is hard to tell who's coming from where. Brian Orakpo coming off the edge standing up will be a nightmare for LTs and TEs. There was a great deal of pressure coming from the D during 7 on 7s and 11 on 11 drills.
(Be very afraid)

It looks like Lorenzo Alexander was with the 1st unit during many of the plays I saw. Although I think that Alexander will probably switch off with Andre Carter on more passing downs. Here's what looks to be our starting front seven: Orakpo, Golston (eventually Haynesworth), Kemoeatu, Carriker, Alexander, McIntosh, Fletcher. That may change a bit but right now that looks like the team. As for the secondary, it looks like Haslett and his staff have done something to improve upon the interceptions. MikeSR619 of BGO was asking about how Landry was looking and to be honest I didn't notice him too much. But unless, he's making major INTs that should be a good thing to note. I didn't see him burned for any deep passes.
(Sorry Mike, but here's a picture of Landry instead)
It was hard to see many of the plays develop based on formation and because I was behind players during many of the drills, so I can't tell you that much about individual plays. I guess I should have gone up the hill at Redskins Park to watch and take notes, but I was busy taking pictures. I will say that if you're familiar with Mike Shanahan's schemes, then you won't be too surprised. I did see Davis and Cooley on the field at the same time (see above Landry photo). I can see why Joey Galloway is still at the top of the depth chart. The guy is still fast for his age and can beat corners. Can Galloway be the offensive version of Darrell Green? I'll be curious to see what he does on Friday against the Bills' corners. Again Austin and Banks made some nice moves. Terrence Austin might make this team as a WR and not just as a specialist. Of course, I'd like to see how they do when the ball isn't coming their way (ie. blocking). Devin Thomas just didn't look like he had a great day. He seemed to have trouble getting separation at times. I can see why people are saying nice things about Anthony Armstrong as well. He made a few nice catches on the field. Of the running backs, Larry Johnson seemed to stand out the most.

The biggest concern I would guess would be the accuracy of Donovan McNabb. He threw some classic McNabb passes and a few not-so-classic passes that led to interceptions (one being a major overthrow). But it's early and we'll see if this remains a problem throughout the season. I'm not that worried about it as of right now.

John Pappas mentioned that I should keep an eye on John Beck during the practice and from what I saw, I can see why the Skins made the trade for him. First, it seems like Beck has a strong arm. Maybe not Jason Campbell caliber, but he can throw hard accurate passes in close spaces. Beck has a quick release and is mobile (both important in a Mike/Kyle Shanahan system). He made some mistakes but I'll be curious to see how he looks by week four of the pre-season.

Who Stood Out?
1. Fred Davis- He caught practically everything and nobody could cover him. He could be the Redskins secret weapon this year. He just looked awesome and had amazing separation on guys trying to cover him.

2. Byron Westbrook- 2 INTs. He looked good. If he plays like this during the pre-season, he probably makes the team.

3. Trent Williams- Stood out and looks like he really is the real deal. Can't wait to see him in full contact.

Plays of the Day
1. Joey Galloway vs. DeAngelo Hall: Galloway got open on a deep bomb while being covered by Hall. I don't think he got the ball however.

2. Byron Westbrook- INT for a TD. Once he got it, he was gone.

Final thoughts
- The D still looks ahead of the O. Not a real surprise, it's still very early.

- I didn't even notice Willie Parker on the field.

- Haynesworth is fine with his teammates. He was talking to both Phillip Daniels and Brian Orakpo on the sidelines. Haynesworth was even congratulating Orakpo on a nice play. If Haynesworth practices like expected everything will be perfectly fine.


John said...

Good stuff, thanks for checking on the LBs!

Special Team Sports said...

Good Stuff man we hung out in VIP all day too so you were prob about 5 feet from me the whole time haha

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