On several occasions this week, James Thrash could be seen streaking down a sideline, ball in hand, with future Hall of Fame cornerback Darrell Green in his wake. After practice, Green could only shake his head when asked about the Washington Redskins’ speedy second-string wide receiver.
“He’ll get me a million more times,” Green said.
There are growing number of ways to get Thrashed, as demonstrated during last weekend’s minicamp and the four-day veteran camp that wrapped up Thursday. Thrash, a speedster who made his impact on kickoff returns last year, now is the second-string punt returner and a potential holder not to mention an increasingly dangerous receiver.
“I still have a lot to learn, but [passing game coordinator Terry] Robiskie is doing a good job of teaching me the things I need to work on,” said the fourth-year receiver. “I feel the offseason program has been a big important thing just being able to come out here, be in shape and run routes.”
No Redskin takes training more serious than Thrash, an undrafted free agent out of Missouri Southern in 1997. His dedication inspires universal respect.
“James Thrash is probably the Redskins’ favorite,” Green said. “He’ll do anything you ask him to do. He works the hardest. He would win the hardest-working Redskin award. If he left we’d all be like, ‘Where’s James Thrash?’ unless he left to become a full-time starter.”
Many Redskins believe Thrash (6-feet, 200 pounds) will get that chance one day. For now, Thrash, 25, is a fourth receiver option behind Michael Westbrook (65 catches, 1,191 yards in 1999), Albert Connell (62, 1,132) and Irving Fryar (26, 254). Thrash finished last season with just three catches for 44 yards.
“You’ve seen his speed,” Connell said. “He can start. He can start here. But I’m not going to give up my position that easily.”
So Thrash has contributed in other roles. Last year he led the Redskins in tackles on special teams coverage (20), and he returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. This year he will be the first-string punt returner if Brian Mitchell is released for salary cap reasons.
And then there’s Thrash’s holding gig. The Redskins want to move quarterback Brad Johnson out of that role and don’t yet know if the punter they sign will be able to hold. Thus, Thrash got a look in minicamp.
“[Holding] is something I’ve never done before,” Thrash said. “But if that’s what it takes to win, I’ll definitely do that.”
Meanwhile, his increasing comfort in the passing game should create more chances to Thrash opposing cornerbacks.
“When you watch him now, he’s very at ease,” Robiskie said. “If something happened and he had to go in and start a game for us, I’d be comfortable.”
Hutton to sign with Packers
Veteran punter Tom Hutton, who worked out Monday at Redskin Park, prepared to sign a one-year contract with Green Bay, according to a report on CBS SportsLine.com. The Redskins still have not made a decision on Tommy Barnhardt, 36, who punted for New Orleans last season and worked out Wednesday for the Redskins. Said player personnel director Vinny Cerrato: “We’re still evaluating everybody.”
Veteran camp concludes
The Redskins completed their minicamp and four-day veteran camp with few injuries and considerable momentum for the next few weeks of training. The next practices will not be held until May 30; rookies, who can begin returning May 15, will participate in those workouts.
“This camp has been very good for us,” coach Norv Turner said. “Everything you can expose your guys to here … takes steps toward getting prepared for the season.”
The sprained shoulder of nickel back Tim Denton was the most serious injury of the week. He is expected to return by May 30.
Unsigned running back Stephen Davis, the franchise player who is nursing the ankle he sprained last December, was not sure if he would be physically ready for May 30, but said he intended to sign the release to participate if he was healthy but not signed.
Rookie offensive tackle Chris Samuels, who missed Saturday and Sunday with a strained hamstring, said Tuesday that his injury had healed considerably. He expected to be healthy when he returns to Redskin Park on May 15.
Thrash had his thumb wrapped yesterday for a slight sprain but was catching passes anyway.