The Washington Redskins players and coaches have harped this year that they have moved on from last season's disappointing performance.
On Saturday, the team saw proof that its passionate fan base is doing the same.
Players, coaches and the Washington Redskins Owner Dan Snyder spent extended time signing autographs and taking pictures with fans after Fan Appreciation Day practice on Saturday, August 2, 2014.
More than 20,000 fans were in attendance at Saturday's annual Redskins Fan Appreciation Day at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center, giving first-year head coach Jay Gruden an opportunity to thank them for their patience, as well as give them a look into the future.
"You guys going to be loud this year or what?" Gruden said with a smile as he addressed the crowd before practice. "We need you badly. I believe the sky's the limit for this team and this organization and we can't do this without you all. We thank you for your support and we can't wait until gameday."
That feeling wasn't lost on the players, like veteran safety Ryan Clark, who returns to the Redskins this year after eight seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"I'm excited that people here are as excited about football as we are," Clark said. "Some of these people will never get to go to FedExField, they will never get to see a game in person and even more so never get an opportunity to talk to us. So I think that's what's more important and that's the fun part about having people at practice."
Darrel Young was one of several team leaders who wondered how the Redskins fan base would react after last year's disappointing performance. He got his answer when he saw 20,477 screaming fans in Richmond on Saturday.
"We were 3-13 last year and we still have the support of our fans – that says a lot about Redskins Nation," Young said. "At the end of the day, though, we're out here trying to have fun and I know they did as well."
Gruden said the fans have set the tone for the 2014 season.
Now it's up to the team to cash in on that excitement.
"The 12th man is very, very important to us as a franchise," Gruden said. "It's a home-field advantage like no other, and we've got to make sure we use it to our advantage and keep them cheering and not booing."