- Associated Press - Thursday, July 31, 2014

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Ryan Clark has been a showman, entertainer, spokesman, pontificator, critic, leader, mentor and fashionista - and that’s just from one week of Washington Redskins training camp.

The crowd at camp has quickly warmed to the most interactive new member of the team. And on the second play of an 11-on-11 drill, the veteran free safety was at it again.

DeSean Jackson caught a screen and maneuvered around defenders as if they were pylons. Clark was one of the last to arrive as Jackson was chased out of bounds after a gain of 10 yards or so.

“C’mon, Ryan!” yelled a fan, chastising the defense.

Clark put it hands on his hips and appeared indignant as he addressed the crowd.

“He was tackled eight times!” Clark said. “Eight times!”

Clark was implying that Jackson would have been tackled if tackling had been allowed on that particular drill. The explanation seemed to satisfy the masses.

Fans had been pining for Clark since the Redskins let him go eight years ago, and there’s no missing him now that he’s back.

“What I can say for those fans who said that they shouldn’t have let me go, I appreciate it,” Clark said. “But the Ryan Clark that’s playing today is 20 times better than the one that left.”

Clark was in Washington in 2004-05, but the Redskins opted not to re-sign him and instead paid big money to Adam Archuleta. Archuleta turned out to be one of the top free agent busts in franchise history, while Clark became a stalwart on the Pittsburgh Steelers defense for eight seasons.

“It didn’t bother me. I moved on. I won a Super Bowl. I’ve been to a Pro Bowl,” Clark said, “so it worked out.”

Now he’s 34, the Steelers didn’t re-sign him, and the Redskins hope he’s got at least one year left in him. They need someone to groom young safeties Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo, as well as a vocal leader on defense in the wake of London Fletcher’s retirement.

As with many veterans in their 30s, Clark’s experience helps trump his declining physical skills. He already has a command over the defense, barking out pre-snap instructions so authoritatively that the coach standing behind him is almost redundant.

“Great student of the game. Great person to be around. Understands the scheme,” defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. “If anybody on this team besides myself can tell you about the scheme, he’s the guy you want to talk to.”

Another byproduct of a being an old hand: Clark has opinions, and he expresses them.

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