With the Washington Redskins’ OTAs (Organized Team Activities) behind them, their mini-camp, which begins Wednesday, June 16th to the 18th, is the next step towards the team’s most anticipated season in years. Redskins’ head coach Mike Shanahan is happy with the team’s progress on both sides of the ball, but understands it’s a continual process.
“Yeah it’s a continual process,” said Shanahan. “We’ve thrown everything at them over a 20-day time frame, and it’s a constant learning situation… It’s a long process, but we’ve got most of the OTAs out of the way. We’ve got a minicamp coming (this week) up to get the chance to look at some more players and rest up and start camp.” Learning the system is the challenge Shanahan posed to the players, but he knows it will take some time and he has made some adjustments. “It takes time, it’s a constant adjustment,” said Shanahan. “Anytime you put in a new system it takes a while to get to know it, and it will be a constant adjustment all the way to our first game of the season, and what you do there is you isolate on the gameplan and obviously shorten the package from what it is now and players don’t have to think, they can react. But right now we’ve got everything thrown at them so we challenge them mentally.”
The Redskins were able to sign safety Reed Doughty last month, signed three out of their six draftees from the 2010 NFL Draft last week, offensive linemen Erik Cook (seventh-round pick, 229th overall) and Selvish Capers (seventh-round pick, 231th overall) and fullback/tight end Dennis Morris (sixth-round pick, 174th overall) and added veteran defensive lineman Vonnie Holliday to help anchor and provide his expertise at playing in a 3-4 defensive scheme.
“A lot of these guys have not played in a 3-4 before, so a part of my role on this team is to help those guys along too,” said Holliday. “So for me, all I wanted was an opportunity and I got that opportunity. The competition is great and that pushes me as a player, and that’s what you want. You want the best guys on the field or be able to take the field with you. I feel pretty confident that I am one of those guys but we will see what happens when the chips fall.”
Holliday is a skilled,13-year veteran who is familiar with various 3-4 defensive schemes. The only thing that is different about this scheme for the Redskins is the terminology. “I’ve played in probably three or four variations of the 3-4, the hybrid defense,” said Holliday. “I played in it with Nick Saban in Miami. I played in it with [Dom] Capers. Last year, I got a chance to play out in Denver (Broncos) with Coach [Mike] Nolan. A lot of different looks. Right now it’s just more terminology. A lot of defenses I have run before and been a part of. For me it’s just a matter of learning the terminology. [It’s] very aggressive, moving a lot, a lot of good things for a guy who is a little undersized in the 3-4. This gives me an opportunity to rely more on my technique and some quickness at times.”
After signing wide receiver Mike Furrey, making it 11 receivers on the roster, and the good impressions made by the other pass catchers, like Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas, rookie receiver/kick returner Brandon Banks’ speed has definitely caught Shanahan’s eye. “I think he has done a good job,” said Shanahan of his speed guy. “He has been an excellent returner, obviously not very big but very fast. We ran him in the forty and he broke 4.4 out here on the turf when the rookies ran. He is catching the ball really well too as a wide receiver. So he is competing right now and we will let time take care of itself, and watch to see what he can do in the preseason games.” Hopefully, Banks can continue to impress Shanahan and the coaching staff with his performance throughout camp and if so, his ability will be the boost the Redskins’ special teams desperately needs.
A tremendous boost for the Redskins’ defense was accomplished today by the signing of linebacker Rocky McIntosh to a one-year deal. The Miami Hurricane second-round draftee from the 2006 NFL Draft (35th overall) appeared in 62 (45 starts) games for the Redskins. Entering into his fifth season, McIntosh registered 346 tackles (205 solo), three interceptions, five sacks, seven forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery, but out of his career total tackles, 115 were earned last season which was the second highest behind linebacker London Fletcher (142). The Redskins did not disclose terms to the deal, but the burgundy and gold signed a committed individual for a least one more season – offensive lineman Paul Fanaika and kicker Justin Medlock were waived today.
Redskins Park has been quiet this off-season, in terms of not breaking the bank, and despite trading for quarterback Donovan McNabb and the HGH allegation surrounding wide receiver Santana Moss which made major headline news, everything is positive. But the only circus or distraction was centered around last season’s big name acquisition, defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, who preferred to workout privately instead of participating in the team’s workout program and OTAs.
Since Haynesworth hasn’t learned the Redskins’ new defensive scheme of 3-4, a system in which Haynesworth does not want to play in, being in shape is not the only question mark. “He’ll definitely have a lot of catching up to do,” said Shanahan. “It’ll be a lot of work for him to come in here and learn the system. We’ve got three days to try to catch him up, and hopefully he’s in shape and we’ll utilize the three days to catch him up as best as we can.” As of late last week, Shanahan is unsure of Haynesworth’s attendance for the Redskins’ mandatory mini-camp this week, but the team will continue to move forward. “I haven’t talked to Albert, no,” said Shanahan.
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