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With First Off-Field Issue, Zorn Passes Test

The young man from the West Coast who apparently has a problem getting on to East Coast time sat in Jim Zorn's office on Sunday afternoon.


"Look, the truth is, he was mortified," Zorn explained a day later. "That is probably enough for a young guy to have to sit there."

He was speaking, of course, on Fred Davis, the tight end out of USC and a second-round selection by the Redskins on April 26 in the NFL Draft.

Davis, the 48th overall selection this year, missed Sunday morning's mini-camp session, forcing team officials to scurry around in hopes of finding him.

As things turned out, Davis overslept.

How Zorn handled that situation, in the midst of his first Redskins mini-camp, revealed a great deal.

He was judgmental but not condemnatory.

"Fred definitely got the message," Zorn said yesterday.

Davis once played at FedExField with USC versus Virginia Tech back in the 2003 college football season. The message is that if he ever wants to step onto FedExField again he had better take his job situation much more seriously.

The situation concerning Fred Davis raised Zorn's ire. But at the same time on Sunday, he appeared to be much more concerned for safety Reed Doughty, who missed Sunday's practice to be with his family.

Doughty's infant son, Micah, faced serious medical complications this past weekend.

So, Zorn excused Doughty from practice.

When the player returned to Redskins Park on Monday morning, Zorn had him address the team and give an update on Micah's condition, which has shown improvement.

What's more, rookie wide receiver Devin Thomas, the team's top pick out of Michigan State, was excused to attend his grandmother's funeral on Saturday. Thomas returned Sunday.

"There are things that are more important than football," Zorn said.

The night before, he attended the Larry King Cardiac Foundation gala, a fund-raiser at the Ritz-Carlton chaired by Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder.

On the field, Zorn turned disciplinarian, when it was called for.

He barked at coaches and players, reminding them to remain 15 yards behind the play on the practice field.

He railed at staff members for not having a football at the line of scrimmage when it was time to run a play.

Demonstrably, Zorn hit the ceiling when his defense turned sloppy, such as when Shawn Springs intercepted a pass and cavalierly flipped the ball as a lateral to Fred Smoot.

Zorn has an off-beat side, too. One of his favorite drills for quarterbacks is to pound them with oversized Pilates balls to simulate the throes of a pass rush.

There's almost a humorous aspect to this drill, as fans may witness this summer in training camp.

In the last few days, a snap shot of sorts, Zorn displayed the ability to deal with the unexpected as a football coach but more importantly he also possessed the willingness to show a measure of compassion.

By and large, mini-camps aren't supposed to produce this much drama.

For the weekend at least, Jim Zorn's even temperament seemed to be a perfect fit for the situation.

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