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Players 'Inspired' By Redskins Fan Showing


Washington Redskins training camp was held at Redskins Park in Ashburn, Va. for the last 10 years before the opening of the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in 2013.

Veteran wide receiver Santana Moss, the senior-most member of the team, was there for seven of the 10 camps in northern Virginia, but said none of them compare to the experience so far in Richmond.

"We're out here in Richmond and there's a lot of fans that we haven't seen out here on the regular," he said after practice. "We've been in Ashburn for so many years; we kept seeing the same people.

"We're Richmond now and they have tons of fans that we probably never get to see, so I'm glad to be able to be out here to see them."

Moss and his teammates signed autographs after practice today for more than 40 minutes, highlighting another successful Fan Appreciation Day for the 25,000-plus in attendance.

"They all just keep getting better," he said. "You appreciate this, just to be out here and see another Fan Day out here in a new environment."

The strangest thing he signed? "This little kid wanted me to sign his cargo shorts."

Fellow veteran Barry Cofield is enjoying his third Redskins training camp after four seasons with the New York Giants.

Asked if the crowd in Richmond was bigger than the one in Ashburn, Cofield shook his head, insisting it was grander than that.

"Yes. This is the biggest crowd I've ever seen in my eight-years in the NFL, no matter where I've been," he said. "And just the constant crowds every single day.

"This total attendance is unlike anything I've ever seen. This is bigger than some [gameday] crowds I had at Northwestern."

Today was the first opportunity for players to suit up in full game gear this preseason, a step that had many players excited. If that wasn't enough, the crowd noise gave players an extra boost.

"We've been feeding off the crowd this whole camp. The support has been amazing," Cofield said. "I've played on Super Bowl teams that come back the next year and we didn't have  this type of support at training camp.

"I'm extremely impressed; it's very energizing and we expect big things this year just like our fans."

Today was the ninth day of training camp practices and the 17th practice session overall. While head coach Mike Shanahan has praised his team's conditioning in camp, physical fatigue is natural for this point in the process.

Defensive end Chris Baker noted that performing in front of fans adds an extra level of incentive for the players.

"All these fans have excitement about the things that are going on with our team and it's great to see them come out and support us like this," Baker said. "If you make big play they might cheer for you, so it gives you a burst of energy when you're super tired."

Despite growing up in Bakersfield, Calif., rookie safety Phillip Thomas has long been a fan of the Washington Redskins from afar.

Finally seeing so many Redskins fans in one place has been inspiring for the rookie, who feels at home in Redskins Nation.

"It gets you amped up. It gives you somebody to perform for," Thomas said. "If you're out here when nobody is out cheering you on, you get a little more tired.

"But when you those fans cheering for you and screaming and stuff it makes you want to perform and give them something to watch."

A shade over 19,000 ungraduate students attend Fresno State University where Thomas patrolled the secondary last year. To see more than 25,000 fans packed into one place is a foreign, but very welcome experience.

"I went to a small college so there was never anything like this," he said with a big smile. "Our Spring Games had about 500 people, maybe, but something like this is crazy. It's exciting."

Thomas, along with the rest of his teammates, expects the excitement to carry over to the regular season. Today was just a reminder of how much fans have riding on the team's success.

"It's crazy," he said proudly. "It shows the loyalty of the fans out here and I'm excited to get into the season and see what it's like."




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