RICHMOND, Va. -- With perhaps the most-exciting training camp in recent years happening in Richmond, thousands of burgundy and gold fans crowded the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center on a humid summer afternoon Saturday.
The eighth day of practice kicked off with the singing of the national anthem and was quickly followed with a performance from the Washington Redskins cheerleaders, who were accompanied by junior Redskins dancers. After the performance, the cheerleaders joined the swarm of fans for photo ops and an autograph session along the practice fields.
"This is my sixth [fan appreciation day] and it never gets old," said Danny K., who referred to himself as the "Skinatic." The atmosphere is amazing, everyone is here. This is by far the most people that have been here in a while. Everyone is excited to see the defense, Dwayne Haskins and a healthy Derrius [Guice]."
Scott Carpenter, an ambassador for the Redskins at the Bon Secours facility, considers himself a die-hard fan who has attended six of the team's training camps. "I'm here working, but I also get to enjoy my favorite team at the same time," Carpenter added.
After a T-shirt toss led by the cheerleaders, fans were selected to participate in Redskins trivia for team memorabilia, tickets and other unique prizes. An energetic practice followed around 1 p.m.
"[The players] get excited when there's more people, without a doubt," said head coach Jay Gruden before Saturday's practice. "They play with more energy and it's good, so our [team] periods, it'll hopefully cater their enthusiasm. We've got some short-yardage drills, which'll be important, some third downs, competitive plays that will be good. ...The periods will be catered to the crowd."
Prized offseason signee Landon Collins highlighted the physical and excited session with a one-handed interception that would have gone for a 100-plus-yard pick six.
"It's awesome, man," Collins said of fan appreciation day. "It shows that the guys and the fans out there, they cherish what we do, they love what we do, they acknowledge what we do. They're standing out there in the heat just like we are playing in it. They want us to win and they want us to win as bad as they do. It's a dream come true to have those fans out there cheering us on."
At the conclusion of practice, players scattered around the practice fields to sign autographs for the 20-minute period allotted.
To wrap up the day, Redskins second-year running back Derrius Guice paced the sidelines to give away his cleats to fans. After gifting a fan with his left cleat, he orchestrated a cheering competition for the right one, eventually delivering the shoe to an overjoyed young fan.