To My Fans of the Beltway Heroes:
Welcome back to Skins Serv! I hope you like the changes we at Skins Serv have brought you this year. If you haven't noticed anything different, then I'll point it out for you. I have placed the date, volume and issue on the right-hand margin of the email, and placed the title of the report (in bold) at the center of the email. These variations should enhance your Skins Serv reading experience by limiting the amount of text on your subject line. I will do my best to keep you updated and informed of all the goings-on in Danny's World throughout the next seven months (I"YH): expect a couple more of these updates before kickoff 2008 (only 37 days away), and then hopefully one a week once the season commences. May it be a football year of great health, happiness, and joy for all sons and daughters of the Potomac Warriors (and of course, the players as well).
1) Sunday Wash - My most sincere apologies to those who came out for Skins Serv's first annual training camp tailgate on Sunday. Unfortunately, mother nature got the better of the burgundy and gold, and after one round of sausages on the barby, it was time to pack it up and head home. Leshanah Habah b'Ashburn.
2) The Email Title - As most of you know, I'm doing some freelance sports writing and am covering three Skins rookies for their hometown papers (Buzbee, Schmitt and Palmer). Because of the new gig, I have all-access to camp this year (pretty freakin' sweet).This week I was able to make it to a closed practice Wed. night and catch the end of open practice yesterday while trying to chase down players and coaches for interviews in between. Based on the Wednesday practice, the email title was supposed to be "A View Inside the Ropes: And it Ain't Pretty." But because we are going to keep things positive up here for a little longer, I decided to keep the second half of the title out.
3) The Problem - My biggest issue with Wednesday's practice was what I didn't see: intensity. I was told that Wed. night (the second of a two-a-day) was going to be the fiercest of camp so far. I was looking for hard-hitting, trash talking, and maybe some fighting. Instead what I saw was a lot of walking around, water breaks, dummie defense and a general lack of urgency from players on both sides of the ball. You hear tales of training camp and the energy of a closed NFL practice - I didn't see any of it. And it wasn't too hot either, so they had no excuse. Unfortunately, it seems like the players are winning on this one and Coach Joe's getting soft. In speaking to Jason LaCanfora at practice, he agreed that it was an extremely disconcerting subplot to camp thus far. Today on his blog he discusses the issue at some length. http://blog.washingtonpost.com/redskinsinsider/2007/08/afternoon_update_1.html
4) The Bright Side - I don't want to get too excited about what my eyes tell me from practice, especially after I was convinced Brandon Lloyd was a instant All-Pro after watching last year's camp, but I need to report that Jason Campbell looks amazing. The guy is throwing lasers and has such tremendous pocket presence. He is getting the ball out there faster and quicker and hitting guys over the middle and on the sideline routes (which was a big cause for concern after last year). And I don't need to speak to his deep ball ability - that was something very evident last year. One of the writers was keeping tabs of Campbell in 11-on-11 drills and he said JC was 8 of 13. Not sure what that means, but its good to throw in fabricated stats once in a while.
5) CP - Don't know what to make of my kid Bro Sweets. There are two prevailing theories coming out of Ashburn. One is that CP's inflamed tendinitis is an injury of convenience. The guy doesn't like camp, doesn't like practicing and will do anything to not put pads on until 9/9. The Skins, who saw their stud back break down last year, don't want a repeat. Coach Joe and his henchman may have finally capitulated to DollaBill's liberal summer rituals. The other theory round the Park is that CP's knee could be something that lingers throughout the entire campaign. The tendinitis was something that popped up during OTA's and only subsided with a lot of rest. It then re-inflamed after three days of contact drills - something pretty scary to the casual freelance writer. It's possible this thing could lead to scopes, fluid draining and missed games, or it could be CP's dream scenario: only putting on pads one day a week all year.
6) Samuels and Thomas - Timing seems to be everything with these injuries. My sense is that Thomas will be perfectly fine and that Samuels got injured early enough that he won't be a problem for the opener either. Lets just hope Campbell won't get killed by then.
7) The Trick Play - LaCanfora says that the whole close practice notion in BS (they only allow DC reporters). He says Gibbs and co. are paranoid and that no outside beat writers are going to steal plays. That being said, I did see something awesome I had to report. The Skins ran an halfback option to Betts, and instead of going upfield to a receiver, he went back the other way to a streaking Campbell up the sideline. Campbell went up over a smaller DB and hauled the pass in before going hard to the floor. It was pretty amazing to see. I wonder if they'll break that out during the regular season.
8) Misc - The secondary looks good. Healthy, fast, and forcing turnovers in practice. They are just so deep back there this year, lets hope they can compensate for a lousy front four...Its good to see Cooley running deeper routes and going over the middle more. I saw a couple of drops sprinkled in there, but i sense he's getting more comfortable with the Tony G type role...I got frustrated by all the "in the flat" passing during last year's camp. Seems like the coaches trust Campbell's arm and decision making more, as they appear to be going away from that.
That's all I got for now. I'll be back in Ashburn n Wednesday and will give you a report after that.