- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Washington Redskins‘ three first-string defensive linemen broke the huddle, bent over and got into their stances during practice Saturday.

Barry Cofield and Stephen Bowen will be in that trio soon, but on this morning they had to just stand there and watch. It’s the final oddity in a summer full of them in the NFL. Rules implemented after the lockout prohibit all newly-signed free agents from participating in practice until the new league year starts Thursday, Aug. 4.

So the newbies, the players who need to catch up the most, are helpless — even though Bowen and Cofield are signed, healthy and ready to go.

“We’re all foaming at the mouth ready to get on the field,” Cofield said.

Eight players watched the two Redskins‘ practices Saturday, trying to salvage at least something from their observations. They stood out because they wore gray t-shirts and burgundy shorts among dozens of players in jerseys and helmets.

Bowen and Cofield looked at a play sheet while the defense ran drills. Receivers Santana Moss and Donte’ Stallworth stood near position coach Keenan McCardell during the afternoon walkthrough. Moss at least worked in the offense last season before re-signing this week, so he won’t fall far behind.

Right guard Chris Chester, cornerbacks Josh Wilson and Byron Westbrook and quarterback Kellen Clemens also were bystanders. All signed free-agent contracts with the Redskins this week.

They are permitted to attend team meetings, but that’s about it. The players left Redskins Park in the middle of the day to go work out at a public gym. Then they went to a local high school for conditioning drills.

The Redskins‘ strength and conditioning staff is not allowed to supervise them, so they provided instructions for the routine and sent the players on their way.

“They get an opportunity to look at a lot of film,” coach Mike Shanahan said. “You get a chance to see how we practice, the type of drills. I’m sure those players would like to be practicing right now, but everyone is under the same guidelines, so they do what they can to catch up.”

Clemens’ inability to practice forced the Redskins to add another quarterback. Shanahan doesn’t want to overwork John Beck’s and Ben Chappell’s arms, so they agreed to terms with University of Virginia undrafted free agent Marc Verica, according to the school.

He’ll help out at least until Thursday, when the roster finally will come together on the practice field.

“You want to be out there with the guys,” Bowen said. “They’re putting in the work. You just want to be a part of the team. I really can’t wait until Thursday.”