Daniels Hurt as Training Camp Begins (Updated)
Phillip Daniels injured his left knee a little over an hour into practice, which ended at about 10:10 (lasting a little more than 90 minutes), and was taken off the field on a cart. He and the guys were doing nine-on-nine drills and it wasn't clear exactly how the injury occurred. He lay on the field for a few minutes with players and trainers around him; Andre Carter came over and gave him a hug. Demetric Evans stepped in for Daniels, but he's the only guy with any real experience to play that defensive end position.
Lest anyone thought there would be repercussions for Shawn Springs missing OTAs, put that out of your mind. He was on the field in his usual spot with the first-team defense in 11-on-11s. Coach Jim Zorn had said that Stephon Heyer would come in to spell Chris Samuels and that already has happened. Heyer is in there in the 11-on-11s.
Devin Thomas (No. 11) has scored points with the crowd, at least. He beat Matteral Richardson for a nice gain on a slant and got a big cheer.
The Redskins have added a new wrinkle to camp...enormous tubes that are covered with tarps, providing shady spots in which players can seek relief from the heat and the sun. Lots of veterans are congregating there and they're the talk of the fans in attendance...or they were until Daniels got hurt.
All the players who were expected to be on the field were present. The only ones not participating in drills were, as expected, Erasmus James and Carlos Rogers, both of whom are recovering from knee injuries. Neither was in pads, although, interestingly, Rogers was wearing a helmet. James was working with trainers; Rogers was hanging out with the defense, listening to the coaches, while players did drills. About 45 minutes into practice, players were moving into scouting drills: offense vs. offense, defense vs. defense.
Just a note on how we're doing business during training camp and in practices beyond: Jason La Canfora and Jason Reid are on the field, phoning and texting me (Cindy) with updates.
This will almost undoubtedly be a more intense and physical camp than what we've seen in the past four years. Even with Zorn giving the veterans many afternoon practices off, the mere structure of the practices - as well as their length on many days - points to a more physically demanding preseason.
The structure of camp is similar to what Mike Holmgren does in Seattle, other coaches said, and other West Coast teams like Tampa, Philly and Green Bay have a similar philosophy. The morning session is the toughest, and though Zorn spoke about pushing to three hours, players and coaches say two hours is the norm. The afternoon is much more specialized, often focusing on special teams, which allows for rest for the veterans. That practice is closed to the public.
Often in the afternoons there will be brisk 10-10-10 sessions, with players running through two cycles of offensive, defensive and special teams plays, and, again, with ample break and recovery time built into the practice. There won't be much one-on-one, nine-on-nine or seven-on-seven work in the afternoon, either, which is some of the most strenuous stuff out there, and often when injuries occur as well. Variety will be the key in the afternoon.
One thing players groused about under Gibbs was how long their days were. With meetings starting late, the day often ended after 10 p.m., giving them very little time to even make a few phone calls in the dorm before curfew (11). Under Zorn, their day will end at 9:30 for the most part, and generally once a week veterans will be excused from some portion of the evening meetings, giving them a day that ends around 6:30.
So that's a little primer on how things will go. With just 80-men on the roster (no NFL Europe exemptions anymore) and with an extra few weeks of training camp (with the extra preseason game because of the Hall of Fame Game), minimizing injuries will be vital, and one of Zorn's primary chores. As he said Saturday, he's walking a very fine line between getting players used to being pounded, and being ready for real contact in September, yet also keeping an older team - lacking depth in key spots - fresh and healthy for the real deal.
Jason Reid and I will send in more updates once practice gets going at 8:30. I've got a lot of stuff to get caught up on with you guys as well after taking my vacation time, and want to hit on a bunch of topics over the next few days, including the departure of my homeboy Jerry Coleman from 980 (still not over that one; this place ain't gonna be the same), Rocco taking his belated first steps, the perils of trying to sell a house in this crumbling economy (killing me slowly), my trip to Fenway Park to see the Sox in the Dunkin Donuts suite (first time sitting in a luxury suite, and it rocks beyond belief), and a bunch of other stuff.
Hope you guys are having a great summer. Bring on the football.
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