Postcard from camp: Redskins
Quarterback Jason Campbell looks more at ease under Jim Zorn's tutelage
Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth will be looked at to anchor the defense
Moby Dick House of Kebab, a Chris Cooley favorite, is worth a try if you're nearby
SI.com has dispatched writers to report on the 32 NFL training camps across the country. Here's what Peter King had to say about the Redskins' camp in Virginia.
Setting the scene
At Redskins Park, in Ashburn, Va., the year-round training ground for Washington, in the flight path of nearby Dulles Airport a half-hour from the city. It's a mini-Snyderville, with a field of tents set up behind the building for the big-wig sponsors and banners ringing the backside of the building (Toyota, FedEx, MasterCard, etc.). Fans park outside the complex and walk in, and this morning, the first practice day of camp for the full squad, about 1,000 (mostly sedate) fans come to stand on one side of the main practice field to watch the show.
I long for the days of camp in Carlisle, Pa., at Dickinson College, where there was much more fan/player interaction (although, to be fair, I think Jason Campbell kissed every baby and signed every kid's hat in a three-county region after practice) and the 20 players occasionally stopping for frozen custard at the stand next to campus before night meetings, and the experience much more traditional. But those days, here, are probably not coming back.
1. Remember Mike Williams, the fat, lazy first-round Buffalo tackle a few years ago? He's back. More about this in Monday Morning Quarterback, but Williams, projected to be a franchise tackle for years when Tom Donahoe took him high in the first round in 2002, has lost 108 pounds this year and was working with the second unit at right tackle Thursday. He looks light on his feet -- as light as a 338-pound fellow can -- and has a very good shot at making this team if he continues to play athletically and with the hustle I saw him display on about 10 snaps in the morning practice.
2. Look for Albert Haynesworth to have the chance to be more disruptive this year than he was in Tennessee. Talked to well-respected defensive coordinator Greg Blache after the second workout of the day, and he told me Haynesworth would likely move from the inside to end on some passing downs. If that's the case, I asked, would offenses have to face the 350-pound Haynesworth bull-rushing from one side and the lithe Brian Orakpo rushing from the opposite ... on maybe a third of the snaps per game. "Maybe,'' Blache said with a big smile. "Maybe. We'll see.'' It only makes sense to spread those guys out and let offenses figure out who to double.
3. It's only one day, one snapshot, but Jason Campbell looks more relaxed and at ease under Jim Zorn's tutelage to me. Here's why: This is the first time in Campbell's nine years of college and pro football that he's been the starter for a second straight year in the same offensive system with the same coach.
"There's no question it has to help him,'' Zorn told me. "He's a more comfortable player and it shows in everything he does.'' I'm writing about Campbell for the magazine next week, and he had some interesting things to say about an off-season that had the Redskins looking to deal for Jay Cutler, draft Mark Sanchez, and, I think, resurrect Sonny Jurgensen. But he's in a good place with his emotions now, and he'll have every chance to succeed or fail on his own this year after a roller-coaster of a season last year. I liked how he threw the ball in the morning practice -- crisp, with a tight spiral, and with accuracy.
New face, new place
Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. When Haynesworth was talking to the Redskins, he wanted to be sure of one thing: He wouldn't have to change his style of play. The Titans allowed him to penetrate and attack the backfield over the last seven years. Under Blache, the Washington tackles have been more read, hold the fort, and then react and attack.
"If I was going to come here, I wanted to make sure they'd let me be me,'' Haynesworth told me. "I wasn't coming here to change my style and be one of those 'read' guys. But they said they wanted me to play my game, and so that made my decision easier.
Traditionally, Blache's tackles mostly stay at home and set up plays for the rest of the defense, but he said he'd never had a tackle like Haynesworth. "We've always had things in our playbook for tackles like Albert to play, but we didn't have that guy. So we weren't going to force it.'' Now we'll see if Haynesworth can play a full season and anchor a defense very much in need of a big playmaker. He's only done that once in seven previous NFL years.
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