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Redskins Under Wraps.

Redskins Under Wraps.

The Washington Redskins released the schedule of training camp practices that are open to the public. You can find it several places online, but I’ll copy it below. Really, it’s no problem. It’s not like it takes up much space.

Monday, August 1--4:00 PM Practice
Tuesday, August 2--4:00 PM Practice
Wednesday, August 3--8:30 AM Practice
Thursday, August 4--4:00 PM Practice
Friday, August 5--4:00 PM Practice
Monday, August 8--4:30 PM Practice
Tuesday, August 9--4:30 PM Practice
Thursday, August 11--8:30 AM Practice

Assuming that each practice lasts about two hours, that’s 16 hours of training camp over a 12-day period that are open to the public. If that doesn’t seem like a lot, that’s because it’s not. Compare that to the Cowboys’ open training camp schedule . I really don’t want to post that here as it would take up a lot of room to post the details of the 70 hours of camp that their fans can attend over a 22-day period. There are 15 instances of two-a-days being open, so if someone travels a long distance to see Dallas practice, they can go in the morning and watch one practice, go eat lunch, and come back for another session before going home. All of the Redskins’ practices are single-session affairs.

The Giants will open about 46 hours of practices over the course of 26 days. Packers Backers will be able to attend practices all the way through the 28th of August. A random look around at about 10 NFL team sites revealed that all who had released their camp schedules had well over twice the hours of practice available to their fans as did the Redskins and all had numerous two-a-days available.

To be sure, not having polled every team, to say that the access Redskins fans have during camp is among the worst in the NFL is an educated guess. But it’s a fact the opportunity for the members of the press to observe the Redskins during minicamp and training camp is the worst in the league. The Professional Football Writers’ Association (PFWA) did a survey among its members and the Redskins were the last in the league when it came to letting reporters watch mincamp and training camp practices.

What’s the downside here? For the fans, it’s the fact of the limited access itself. There are that many fewer opportunities to go and hang out with a few thousand fellow Redskins fans, catch some of practice (or try to, anyway; there are no stands and if you’re not there early enough to get along the fence it’s hard to see anything more than footballs flying in there air) and maybe gather in an autograph or two. The no two-a-days means that a fan driving some distance to get to Redskins Park will have to stay overnight in order to catch two practices. Finally, because there are so few practices open, the attendance at each one numbers in the thousands. If the attendance opportunities are greater, the crowds at each session will be smaller and you will have a better chance to get the prime real estate on the fence line and a prime signature on your hat.

Certainly you’re not in the least interested in how these policies make life more difficult on the members of the press corps. Perhaps, though, you may take notice in the effect that they have on the coverage of the team. First, it’s difficult to get stories about the younger players, the longshots to make the team. The writers have to do stories about Patrick Ramsey, Shawn Taylor, Clinton Portis and the other big names on the team. The limited access to practice leaves little time to observe and write about the lesser-known starters, let along the up-and-comers. An example: a few years ago I heard Hue Jackson, the Redskins running backs coach at the time, constantly yelling at Sultan McCullough, an undrafted free agent running back. Over the course of a few practices I deduced and wrote that McCullough had an excellent chance of making the team; otherwise, why would Jackson waste so much time observing and correcting him? Had I had to spend my time focusing on the “must-have” stories, I would not have been able to make that observation. (I wouldn’t be telling this story, of course, if McCullough didn’t make the final cut.)

Also, you can only observe some things over the course of time. Last year, when the Redskins had a similar camp access schedule, the passing game drills with Ramsey and Mark Brunell looked sloppy. You hear about passing drills where the ball never hits the ground. The balls those two were throwing were quickly grass stained. It’s not unusual, though for a team to start out that way and improve as camp goes on. With nobody around to observe, however, there’s no objective viewpoint to report whether or not such things improve over the course of camp. We found out the answer to the passing game question eventually last year, but it took a few games into the regular season.

There is one person who must sign off on the training camp schedule and that is Joe Gibbs. This is his idea, and it’s a new one for him. In his first stint as the Redskins coach, Gibbs was average to above average in the amount of camp sessions that fans and writers could attend. Now if you blink, you miss it.

There is no doubt here that Gibbs is doing this for one simple reason, the same reason he does almost anything else, because he thinks it will help the team win more football game. From what I can gather, most of the other writers assign no ulterior motives to Gibbs. All of us, though, are equally puzzled as to how what’s observed and reported on during a camp practice is going to harm the Redskins. It’s not like we’re going to write that they like to throw the X-Right, Red Zoom 32 on third and between six and eight or that a particular blitz package is getting consistently good penetration. You just can’t tell that much when the players are going at most ¾ speed most of the time.

There are two possible reasons why Gibbs wants to restrict access that I can come up with. One is that he doesn’t want reporting on injuries to key players. But, by NFL fiat that’s all public info by the time the game starts so that’s pretty marginal. The other is that he may not want the identities of the young players who are performing well in practice to get out to other teams. This makes a little more sense. Gregg Williams said at minicamp last month that the Redskins had 11 undrafted free agents on defense by the end of the year in 2004 and a good number of them were cut in camp and, having made a good impression, were signed back up when the need arose. Still, having such severe limitations on access seems to be a bit extreme to keep secret a player that everyone else can see on film from college and from preseason games.

It’s Gibbs right to be paranoid, but the two of his fellow NFC East coaches who coach the high-access teams listed above, Bill Parcells of the Cowboys and Tom Caughlin of the Giants, have been known to hear voices when nobody else does, too. But they have seen value in letting the fans and those who deliver information to them extensive access to training camp practices. It would be great if Joe Gibbs did the same.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Roster competition, Brown vs. Pryor

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Roster competition, Brown vs. Pryor

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, June 23, 33 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins  and NBC Sports Washington.

Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense—NFL coaches and others like to tell you that competition determines who wins roster spots in the league. And that may be true to an extent. But many roster spots are predetermined by a player’s contract situation and/or draft status. It is unlikely that an undrafted player like Fish Smithson will win a roster spot over Troy Apke even if the former outperforms the latter in every way during training camp. Apke was a fourth-round pick and they aren’t going to give up on him in favor of an undrafted player. It would cost $3.2 million in dead cap to cut Stacy McGee and only $150,000 to move on from Ziggy Hood so McGee will win a “competition” that is even remotely close. (Offensive projection here)

Redskins will 'have it out' for Terrelle Pryor at training camp—While this is something that could add a little spice to the Jets’ visit to Richmond, don’t look for much of anything to happen. Zach Brown might give a little extra shove to Pryor here and there but he’s not going to do anything that will draw blood or even cause a deep bruise. If nothing else, a big hit on Pryor would invite retaliation by the Jets on Josh Doctson or Paul Richardson. And that might lead to more retaliation and you end up with a brawl like the Redskins and Texans had a couple of years ago.

Trent Williams very much of approves of Smith and Guice—Williams is going into his ninth NFL season and he has yet to be on the winning side of a playoff game. He thinks that Alex Smith and Derrius Guice can help change that. 

The curious case of Alex Smith and the NFL Top 100 list—I normally greet this list with a big yawn and this year was no exception. But I do find the omission of Smith, who led the NFL in passer rating and was third in adjusted net yards per attempt, odd. In an update to this post, the NFL released the names of the top 10 players and Smith is not on it. He shouldn’t be, but he should be somewhere on the 100, perhaps in the middle of the pack. The only Redskins player to appear on the list was Trent Williams at No. 57.

The Redskins' best players who are 25 or younger—It’s likely that nine players who are 25 or younger will line up as starters for the Redskins this year. I don’t have a rundown of how that compares to the rest of the league but it’s notable that in the last two years six of them have replaced players who were either approaching age 30 or over it. I’ll engage in some speculation here and say that five of the young players—Daron Payne, Derrius Guice, Preston Smith, Jonathan Allen, and Montae Nicholson—are good enough to potentially make a Pro Bowl at some point in their careers. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline 

Former Redskins defensive tackle Dave Butz was born on this date in 1950. 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 33
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 47
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 70

The Redskins last played a game 174 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 78 days. 

In case you missed it

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Redskins schedule preview: Week 16 vs. Titans

Redskins schedule preview: Week 16 vs. Titans

We’re previewing every game of the 2018 season with a look forward and a look back. Up today, it’s the game against the Titans. 

Week 16 December 22 or 23, Nissan Stadium (the date of the game will be determined no later than Week 8 in early November)

2017 Titans: 9-7, Second in AFC South, lost in the divisional round 

Projected 2018 wins per Westgate SuperBook: 8

Early line: Redskins +5.5

Key additions: CB Malcolm Butler, DT Bennie Logan, RB Dion Lewis

Key losses: DT Sylvester Williams, RB DeMarco Murray

Biggest questions: 

  • QB Marcus Mariota improved from his rookie year and had a solid 2016. But he regressed last season. In which direction is his career headed?
  • After head coach Mike Mularkey took the Titans to the second round of the playoffs he was summarily fired. Will they regret making to switch to Mike Vrabel?

Series history

The all-time series between the two teams is tied a 6-6; the teams split six games when the franchise was the Houston Oilers and they have gong 3-3 since the move to Tennessee. 

Series notables

The first time: October 10, 1971, RFK Stadium—The Redskins offense didn’t score a touchdown but that often didn’t matter when George Allen was the head coach as they still won 22-13. Washington’s scoring came on five Curt Knight field goals and on an 18-yard interception return by defensive end Ron McDole. That touchdown came on one of five takeaways by the Redskins defense. 

The last time: October 19, 2014, FedEx Field—Quarterback Kirk Cousins was struggling in the first half, losing a fumble and throwing a head-scratching interception. With the Redskins trailing the 2-4 Titans 10-6, Jay Gruden decided it was time for a change and Colt McCoy came in to play QB in the second half. 

Things clicked immediately as McCoy threw a short pass to Pierre Garçon, who turned upfield and rolled in for a 70-yard touchdown. It was back and forth in the second half and the Redskins were trailing 17-16 when they got the ball on their own 20 with 3:14 to play. McCoy led a 10-play drive that consumed all of the remaining time and culminated in a 22-yard Kai Forbath field goal to win it 19-17. 

The best time: November 3, 1991, RFK Stadium—To win nine straight NFL games to start out a season, you need solid blocking, accurate passing, hard-hitting tackling, inspired play calling, crisp execution and, as was the case today, a little bit of luck. Chip Lohmiller kicked a 41-yard field goal for Washington to give the Redskins a 16-13 overtime win over Houston. Darrell Green’s interception at the Houston 33 set up the kick. All of that, however, would not have happened if not for Oiler placekicker Ian Howfield. 

After Houston tied the game on a one-yard run by Lorenzo White with 1:42 left in the game, Brian Mitchell fumbled the ensuing kickoff, giving the Oilers prime field position. Howfield came in for a 33-yard field goal attempt with one second left. It appeared that the winning streak would end at eight. “You don’t exactly give up, but you’re not far from it,” said Andre Collins. 

The snap was perfect as was the hold, but Howfield’s kick was wide right. 

On Houston’s second offensive play of overtime, Oiler quarterback Warren Moon got bumped as he threw an out pass and Green picked it off. Three Ernest Byner runs preceded Lohmiller’s game-ending kick. 

The worst time: October 30, 1988, Astrodome—Washington entered the contest riding a three-game winning streak and appeared to be rounding into form to defend their Super Bowl title. Warren Moon threw three touchdown passes to Drew Hill, however, and the Redskins took a 41-17 whipping that wasn’t even as close as the final score would indicate.

Redskins schedule series

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS  and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS  and on Instagram @RichTandler