Dennard Wilson waited nearly two years for another NFL opportunity. So he won't mind waiting a few more days to learn whether he has earned a roster spot coming out of this weekend's Rookie Camp.
Wilson, who played collegiate ball at Maryland, was part of the Redskins' roster in July 2004 when he suffered a knee injury on the first day of training camp. He underwent surgery and was placed on injured reserve, ending his rookie campaign.
Wilson was released by the Redskins shortly after the 2004 season. Since then, he has helped coach at his high school [DeMatha Catholic in Hyattsville, Md.] while working out and keeping his NFL dream alive.
He welcomed the opportunity to try out for the Redskins again, this time at Rookie Camp.
"It doesn't hurt that I've been away from the game so long," Wilson said. "In fact, maybe I got better. I believe I got better being hurt. My desire and my will to play took over."
During the three-day camp, Wilson took time to enjoy the moment.
"It feels like a dream come true," he said. "I feel like a little kid again running out there. I feel like I'm running wild out, like when I was playing at a Boys and Girls Club growing up."
The Redskins are expected to sign a handful of tryout players from the weekend Rookie Camp. Wilson's experience--he spent all of spring and summer 2004 learning the defense, prior to his injury--could give him an advantage over rookies at the camp.
"I'm just grateful for the second chance," he said. "In life, a lot of people don't get a second opportunity. I just thank this coaching staff for giving me a chance."
-- FENNER CATCHES ON
Wide receiver Derrick Fenner, who also played college ball at Maryland, took part in his first NFL camp. The Redskins signed Fenner on May 1 as an undrafted rookie free agent.
Fenner missed Friday's practice as athletic trainers reevaluated a pre-existing ankle injury, but he was cleared to practice on Saturday and Sunday.
Fenner, who grew up in Hampton, Va., first impressed Redskins' coaches in the April 7 local college workout at Redskins Park. He felt optimistic that he would get a call after the draft.
"As soon as I left the field that day, coaches were talking to me," Fenner said. "I could feel that vibe that I had a great workout that day and I knew that if the draft didn't work out, they would call me. And they did."
With wide receivers like Santana Moss, Antwaan Randle El, Brandon Lloyd, David Patten and James Thrash on the Redskins' roster, Fenner faces an uphill battle to earn a roster spot in 2006. He could be a suitable candidate for the practice squad should he continue to impress.
Asked about the strengths of his game, Fenner replied: "I have a strong work ethic. I work hard. I run routes well. I bring a lot of different things to the table and I feel like I can help this team a lot."
-- INJURY UPDATE
Defensive tackle Anthony Montgomery, the Redskins' fifth-round pick in the NFL Draft, sat out practices on Saturday and Sunday after tweaking his hamstring. The injury is not considered serious and Montgomery should be on hand for the start of OTAs on May 16.
Defensive back Chris Hawkins, an undrafted rookie signing, strained a shoulder during special teams work on Saturday. He sat out Sunday's practice. The injury is not considered serious.
-- OTHER FIRST-YEAR PLAYERS AT CAMP
Dennard Wilson was not the only first-year player to participate in Rookie Camp. Redskins linebacker Nick McNeil was an active participant, as was running back Jesse Lumsden and offensive linemen Jonta Woodard and Jonathan Alston.
All four players welcomed the extra opportunity to impress coaches. But they were also on hand to help guide some of the greener rookies through the practice sessions.