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Redskins Wrap Up Mini-Camp With a Spirited Practice


Donovan McNabb dropped back to pass. Downfield, Fred Davis drew double coverage from rookie Perry Riley and a hard-charging Chris Horton.

Undaunted, McNabb threw deep to Davis, who had a step on Riley and Horton. Davis grabbed the pass as he crossed the goal line for a touchdown.

It was easily the best play of Redskins mini-camp.

Perhaps most interesting was what happened next.

Davis went to the sidelines and was congratulated by Clinton Portis and Santana Moss.

McNabb went to each of his offensive linemen and gave them a pat on the shoulder.

Back on the field, Horton huddled with Riley and they discussed the play and how they should defend it next time.

In a sense, this was the Redskins' offseason in microcosm.

New faces, young and old. Veterans commingling with young players. Plenty of instruction, on the field and off. Plenty of bonding, on the field and off.

The Redskins concluded the offseason on Thursday with what amounted to a one-day mini-camp.

Head coach Mike Shanahan canceled Wednesday's practice due to a rain-soaked practice field. He also canceled Friday's practice to reward players for their hard work this offseason.

In his first offseason in Washington, Shanahan installed a new offense and a new defense. Coaches challenged players by asking them to absorb the entire playbook all at once.

"We got a lot done," Shanahan said. "Anytime you throw the whole package at a team in a short time frame, there's a lot involved. We've worked pretty extensively over the past five weeks and I think we've made some strides."

Shanahan said it was premature to suggest that the offense was ahead of the defense, or vice versa.

The team has practiced without pads all offseason, he said.

"Until you put pads on, you're guessing at a lot of different positions," Shanahan said. "But what you try to do is learn the system, learn what we're doing offensively, learn the terminology, so once you put the pads on, you can react, you don't have to think.

"Same thing defensively. Until you get the pads on, actually get better at tackling, do the things you have to do to be a better defensive team, it's a little bit premature. But you have to feel very comfortable with the system. You have to be able to react and not think. I think we've been able to do that."

Players showed signs of progress during Thursday's practice:

  • McNabb threw across the middle to tight end Chris Cooley, but the ball bounced off Cooley's pads...and into the waiting arms of wide receiver Bobby Wade.
  • Second-year cornerback Kevin Barnes turned in a nice play, coming in from behind wide receiver Mike Furrey to break up a pass.
  • Graham Gano, the only kicker on the Redskins' roster heading into training camp, was 1-of-2 on a pair of 52-yard field attempts. Later, he missed a pair of 62-yard attempts, although the second attempt hit the crossbar.
  • Chris Cooley went in motion, and then after the snap he ran a route that had him run the other way. He pulled in McNabb's pass for a solid gain. It was a creative play design that appeared to confuse the defense.
  • Offensive lineman Clint Oldenburg earned praise for a block as Larry Johnson burst up the middle on a run. "Good job, Clint," offensive line coach Chris Foerster shouted.
  • Quarterbacks took their shots deep during practice. McNabb targeted Santana Moss on a deep fly pattern, but Moss was well-covered by Carlos Rogers and McNabb's pass was overthrown. Later, backup QB Richard Bartel targeted Malcolm Kelly on a deep sideline pattern, but the pass was also overthrown.
  • Brian Orakpo jumped off-sides, bumping into Artis Hicks. Orakpo drew the ire of linebackers coach Lou Spanos. "Come on, let's go!" Spanos shouted.
  • Justin Tryon broke up a short sideline pass to Devin Thomas. Next play, Horton broke up a deep sideline pass to Anthony Armstrong.

McNabb, the on-field symbol of change at Redskins Park, wrapped up an offseason that started in Philadelphia and ended in Washington.

He was seemingly under constant criticism as quarterback of the Eagles. Since the April 4 trade to the Redskins, he has been embraced as a stabilizing leader of the offense.

"We worked and pushed each other," McNabb said. "What we try to do is complement each other in workouts, in the locker room, wherever it may be. We want to be very supportive of what everyone is doing, whether it's charity work or anything else. That builds a bond, that builds a closeness in the locker room.

"I think it's important for everyone to understand what we want to get accomplished. You just have to take advantage of the opportunity."

After Thursday's practice, players and coaches headed to a local bowling alley for some off-the-field competition and bragging rights as the Redskins' best bowler.

It was another opportunity for team bonding, Shanahan said.

"We'll have some fun with it," he said.

Then players headed their separate ways for a five-week break from football.

Training camp--and the NFL season--starts in earnest on July 29.

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