- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 20, 2008

Nearly half the lunar calendar divides Sunday’s sunrise from Super Bowl XLIII. Forty-six days still stand between the Washington Redskins and their season-opener against the champion New York Giants on Sept. 4.

Jim Zorn is ready now.

“I am not nervous at all. I am excited,” Zorn said less than a day before his first preseason camp as an NFL head coach. “I don’t think I am going to go, ‘Oh, I forgot to get footballs.’ I do think we are going to be ready to go and have a great camp.”

Zorn and the Redskins hit the practice field in Ashburn, Va., on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. for the first session of two-a-day practices, the first chapter of a six-week preseason saga that includes 37 workouts, five full-length games and one intrasquad scrimmage.

The Redskins report earlier than any NFL team, play an extra preseason game - the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, against the Colts on Aug. 3 - and end two-a-days Aug. 14.

“It is what it is,” linebacker London Fletcher said of the marathon preseason. “You make the most of it. If you go around complaining when you should be at work, you miss a great opportunity to get better. I look at it as getting a head start on everyone else and a chance to compete at an extremely high level come Sept. 4 when we play the Giants.”

Among the challenges confronting the Redskins in the coming weeks are incorporating Zorn’s West Coast offense and adjusting to his blitzkrieg practice style.

“You’ll see the tempo go fast because I like to go fast,” Zorn said. “That might be something that you see that is way different.”

Keeping everyone healthy will be another top priority.

Of the 80 players on the Redskins’ roster, Zorn said only two - fourth-year cornerback Carlos Rogers and Erasmus James, a defensive end acquired in a May trade with Minnesota - would be held out with injuries. Both are recovering from knee injuries that ended their 2007 seasons and will “hopefully” be ready by the end of training camp.

Zorn said he will monitor other “nicks” - like left tackle Chris Samuels’ elbow and right tackle Jon Jansen’s leg - to be sure they are full-speed come Sept. 4.

Wide receiver Antwaan Randle El doesn’t plan on letting the knee trouble that prevented him from participating in organized team activities slow him down in the coming weeks.

“I am going out there with everything I got,” he said. “If I have to take a couple plays, half a practice, I will. But for the most part, from the outset, I’m going full go.”

Zorn said possible position battles will be at the fifth wide receiver spot, the third-string quarterback position, cornerback and punter.

He said he is willing to keep up to six receivers on the roster but will sign only one punter, meaning either returning starter Derrick Frost or Durant Brooks, Washington’s sixth-round pick out of Georgia Tech, will be out of a job by the season opener.

Tight end Fred Davis, Washington’s last remaining unsigned player, agreed to a four-year deal that includes a $1.8 million signing bonus. The Redskins beat the deadline to get all their players under contract almost a day before training camp opens Sunday morning.

Washington cut reserve tight end Tyler Ecker, who spent all of the 2007 season on injured reserve, to make room for Davis.

The Redskins selected Davis with the 48th overall pick in the NFL Draft.

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