For Albert Haynesworth stuff, go here.
ASHBURN, V.A. - It only took one day for fans to be greeted with a couple of surprises as the Redskins lined up for their first 11 on 11 drill in training camp.
Those surprises? One was that the team's first unit included 38-year old Joey Galloway - and not Devin Thomas or Malcolm Kelly - as the second wide receiver. The other was that Lorenzo Alexander lined up as one of the outside linebackers, and Andre Carter, a team leader coming off one of the best seasons of his career, was relegated to the nickel package.
Galloway was brought in as a low-cost signing this summer, and at 38, his career is probably coming to a close, so his inclusion on the first team was a mild surprise. But the absence of Carter on the first-unit defense was more striking, because it was a switch to a 3-4 that prompted Carter to leave the 49ers for the Redskins. Carter is an outstanding 4-3 defensive lineman, but he may be a potential casualty to the team's decision to switch to the 3-4.
Then again, it was just the first practice, and both Mike Shanahan and Donovan McNabb admitted it wasn't nearly as intense as future practices. Shanahan said cut practice short by 10 minutes because he was worried about the wet playing surface.
"It's hard to evaluate a day like this. We go through a whole day of meetings then we come out here for an hour and change to practice flying around. I think things will start to be competitive more tomorrow and as the days continue on. We look forward for tomorrow," McNabb said.
More training camp notes:
Speaking of Kelly, it didn't appear as if he would even take the field today because of a hamstring problem. However, Kelly did participate in every drill, though there were a couple times where he seemed to be favoring the injury.
"I didn't really think I was going to practice today, [but] I came out today and I was running full speed and stuff like that," he said.
Kelly said the injury felt much better today than yesterday and isn't concerned "because if I was going to be out a week, maybe I would be concerned but I'm not concerned."
Shanahan said he didn't see much of Kelly, but said Kelly wanted to "push through" his hamstring injury
One of the first questions Clinton Portis was asked today was about how he's made bold proclamations in the past and what might be on his mind right now. Portis' answer was simple.
"Having fun," he said.
Portis spent most of the practice with the first unit and looked to be in much better physical condition than he's been in the past. He's fully recovered from a concussion he suffered last season and feels rejuvinated by the presence of his former coach. So much so that he placed the credit on Shanahan when asked about the effect McNabb has on the vibe around Redskins Park.
"I wouldn't say that it was Donovan that rubbed off on guys. I think it was the organization," Portis said immediately. "With Coach Shanahan coming in setting the rules, everybody abiding by the same rules, I think that it has players buying in."
But of course, no Portis media session is complete without a dig at his critics.
"With myself having a concussion which was an unfortunate situation, it was like all of a sudden I disappeared off the face of the earth due to a concussion," he said. "Everybody felt like I fell off, [and then], you really see people's true opinions. Everybody wrote me off, everybody felt like I was over and done with, but I had a concussion, I recovered, I'm back, I'm healthy and I'm looking forward to helping this team win."
Welcome back, CP.
This is a post for another time, but it's worth noting that Chris Cooley and Fred Davis both lined up together on the first team. It'll be an interesting challenge to see whether the two will be able to play together next season, especially considering they have similar skill sets.
I talked to Davis after practice, and he said he's very excited to be a part of new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's offense because of its ability to incorporate two tight end sets. That's why he's not concerned about Cooley coming back and lessening his impact, even though he said that fans who got on him in the past didn't see how he had to sit behind Cooley.
"You have to tune out them, because sometimes, those fans are wrong," Davis said, adding that the biggest difference in his game last year was just getting the opportunity to show his skills.
For his part, Cooley deemed this experiment "an unbelievable opportunity."
"I think it's an unbelievable opportunity for both of us and this football team," Cooley said. "There's not a lot of teams that have a great starting tight end, and I think right now, we have two. It really gives us an opportunity to run the ball, because we can both block, running routes, catching the ball. It could be huge for both of us."
The thing to remember, as Cooley notes, is that Kyle Shanahan could line those two up together anywhere on the field, whether it's on the line, in the slot or in the backfield. And, as Santana Moss notes, the nice thing about Shanahan's offense is its flexibility.
"He runs schemes that are not always so finely stitched," Moss said. "Sometimes, you get an offense where a guy has something written and he says 'This is what I want you to do,' even though he knows defenses in this day and age are going to play differently. He's one of those guys that has [the play] written, but he'll also say, 'Hey, if you can make something out of it differently, let's do it, because we want to make a play out of it, we don't want to just throw it into coverage.' He's one of those guys that's very flexible on how you get open, as long as you and the quarterback are on the same page."
The craziest part of today might have been the fact that nobody asked Mike Shanahan any questions about McNabb. Something about Albert Haynesworth will do that to you.
Anyway, McNabb of course comes here after taking his wide receivers out to Arizona to train with him last week. He mostly answered questions about the trip in a series of cliches, but did credit the youthful energy of the team here.
"Just from being around the guys, it's an energizing bunch. Obviously they're young, but still, we have a lot of great athletes that are just ready to explode. Given the opportunity and the offensive and defensive scheme, you give them that opportunity to be able to make a lot of plays for you in the game," he said.
Moss said that what makes McNabb great is his ability to see the other wide receiver options in a given play.
"The good quarterbacks look backside and say 'That third read might be first read.' That's what separates offenses in this leauge. You look at some guys and you ask 'Well, how did he get that many yards.' But he didn't get all those yards from being first read all the time. He got it because when defenses were in off coverage and gave him a mismatch, that offense had a good quarterback and knew where to find him. I feel like that's what Donovan brings us," Moss said.
At the same time, McNabb is learning a new offense, something he's ready to admit.
"A lot of times, 'West Coast Offense' gets thrown around, but this isn't the West Coast offense. But it's an opportunity for me to learn something new," he said.
The result today was a couple wobbly throws during the scrimmage. At one point, a couple fans were even calling for Jason Campbell of all people. When asked about that, McNabb took things in stride.
"I've been connecting with the fans the last couple weeks. We're very close," he joked.