ASHBURN, Va. — No one chanted Marc Verica’s name after practice at Redskins Park on Wednesday. There weren’t No. 15 jerseys or glossy action photos of him in protective plastic sleeves to autograph. Even the quarterback’s teammates seemed to forget the undrafted free agent from the University of Virginia was part of training camp.
“We feel fortunate,” receiver Santana Moss said of the Redskins’ quarterbacks, “to have all three of these guys.”
Actually five quarterbacks were present for Wednesday morning’s practice, including Verica and fellow undrafted free agent Ben Chappell. Verica, however, was released before the afternoon walk-through.
This is what life looked like from the NFL’s periphery. Verica, who threw for 2,799 yards and 14 touchdowns for Virginia last season, cycled through warm-ups with rest of the Redskins. Then he spent the next 2 1/2 hours watching practice from the sideline, something he hasn’t done since his freshman year at Virginia. Wednesday was like most days: he didn’t get one repetition.
He tried to ignore the sun beating down. While Rex Grossman or John Beck or Kellen Clemens stood under center, Verica repeated the play call to himself, thought about what he’ll do before the snap and analyzed what unfolded. He had to stay focused. Somehow.
“Just being here isn’t enough,” the 23-year-old Verica said before he was released. “I’m trying to push as hard as I can and prepare as hard as I can. The opportunities are kind of scarce, but I’m trying to prepare myself so when I do get my shot I’m ready.”
During the lockout, he worked with high school quarterbacks at Total Performance, a Charlottesville, Va., gym. Economics degree in hand, Verica explored contingency plans for life beyond football.
But July 30, Verica’s phone interrupted his slumber at 8 a.m. With only two quarterbacks able to play then, coach Mike Shanahan wanted another arm in camp. The Redskins were the first - and only - NFL team to call on Verica. So he packed a bag and drove from Charlottesville to Ashburn, a spot on the 90-man training camp roster waiting.
Since practice opportunities were limited to nonexistent, Verica tried to find other ways to turn heads.
“You show the coaches you can outwork everybody,” Verica said. “If you’re a quarterback, especially at the professional level, it should be know that you’re the hardest worker.”
He stayed late into the night, after meetings were long over, sketching plays and memorizing them. Sometimes coaches left before him, Verica said. He liked to be the last player at Redskins Park.
He hoped for an opportunity on the field, a chance to show off the extra work.
Instead, his Redskins stint ended before the team’s first preseason game Friday. And his words from what turned out to be his final walk off the field at Redskins Park on Wednesday hung in the thick air.
“This actually might turn into a shot for me,” Verica said. “To finally be here and reach it is rewarding in a sense, but I’m still not satisfied.”
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