- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 9, 2009

Though the Washington Redskins’ offense scored four touchdowns and kicked a field goal during Saturday’s intrasquad scrimmage, the defense dominated the 57-play session.

That’s been the case throughout training camp. The only differences Saturday: There was true hitting for the first time, and the quarterbacks were open to tacklers.

“When you had 130 guys and practiced for six weeks, there were a lot of those kind of scrimmages, even in practice,” coach Jim Zorn said. “We’d go live. But nowadays with [just] 80 players, you want to keep everybody as healthy as you can. So today was the first opportunity [to tackle]. I think the guys love it. To run and know that you can get tackled, there’s a different spark. And to come in and lay a hit on somebody, it’s got to feel good.”

That was the case for Brian Orakpo, even though the first-round draft choice wasn’t able to finish off his sacks properly. Orakpo and fellow rookie pass-rusher Jeremy Jarmon seemingly spent more time in the offensive backfield than some of the running backs did.

“As a defense, we wanted to put on a show,” said Orakpo, who’s making the transition from college defensive end to NFL linebacker. “I feel a lot more comfortable. Defensive end, that’s just natural to me. At linebacker, I’m able to open my hips a lot more, able to read different pass coverages and the different formations the offense is giving us. I’m flying around a lot more.”

The touchdowns were scored by quarterback Chase Daniel on a scramble and catches by Keith Eloi, Trent Shelton and Todd Yoder. A Shaun Suisham field goal capped Jason Campbell’s first possession.

According to statistics provided by the team, the quarterbacks were a combined 21-for-30 for 178 yards. Receiver Marko Mitchell led the way with three catches for 32 yards. Safety Kareem Moore and defensive end Renaldo Wynn had four tackles each, and Moore recovered a fumble.

Hunter the punter

If Saturday was any indication, the Redskins have their first big-time punter since Matt Turk left after the 1999 season.

Hunter Smith, who punted for Indianapolis the past 10 seasons, averaged 55.3 yards on six punts before the scrimmage despite several high snaps from the usually impeccable Ethan Albright.

“He didn’t hit a couple of them very well, and they were over 4-second hang time,” Zorn said. “Last year, when we didn’t hit a couple very well, they were 3.1, 3.2, 3.3. The ones he hit were 5-second hang times. We just haven’t seen that.”

Absent starters

Contrary to Zorn’s comments Friday, starting cornerback DeAngelo Hall took some work during the scrimmage, and second-year receiver Malcom Kelly was held out two days after returning from a tweaked hamstring. Middle linebacker London Fletcher played, but Pro Bowl tight end Chris Cooley did not.

More tackle woes

The only injuries during the scrimmage came at the Redskins’ thinnest position, right tackle.

Stephon Heyer (knee) and Mike Williams (groin) were already sidelined when Jeremy Bridges sprained his right ankle and Scott Burley left with cramps. Chad Rinehart moved over from right guard to finish up at right tackle. Starting left tackle Chris Samuels played after having fluid drained from a knee earlier in the week.

Bridges was walking afterward and said he didn’t believe his injury was serious.

Zorn’s pitch to the crowd

Before the scrimmage, Zorn told the crowd the defense has been ahead of the offense during camp. He hit all the right chords about his hopes for this season - except for referring to rookie cornerback Kevin Barnes as “Keith” - but neither the turnout nor the response was as boisterous as it was a year ago.

The attendance was announced as more than 29,000, but it looked significantly smaller than last year’s crowd. Traffic was also much less of an issue than in 2008 thanks in part to an earlier opening, a doubling in the number of lots and a tripling in the number of Loudoun County traffic police.

Cerrato’s special guest

Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee watched the scrimmage from the sideline as a guest of Redskins executive vice president Vinny Cerrato.

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