- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 30, 2003

E-special-ly intense

For most guys, playing special teams is a chore. It’s all grunt, no glory, and high-speed collisions boost the chances of getting injured. Almost invariably, guys would rather be focusing on their higher-profile regular positions.

That’s where special teams coach Mike Stock comes in. His soft-spoken, if intense, usual demeanor boils over when he takes center stage, generally about halfway through practice. His expletive-laden intonations let players know they better get going or else.

Already special teams have been a focus in Redskins camp in response to last year’s mediocre performance in that area, and yesterday the combination of Stock’s urging and a new drill made for one of camp’s more spirited sessions. Players (a whole bunch of them) were asked to run at a blocker, shed it and hit a ball-carrier in rapid succession.

“This is not a walking drill!” Stock yelled as players moved a bit too slowly toward where the drill was to be held.

“Go!” he yelled at one player. “Don’t wait on it!”

“Go!” to the next. “That’s it, good!”

“Go! … No, get up the field!”

“Go! … That’s it, get your head in front!”

And so it went. Bang! Bang! Bang! Players matched Stock’s intensity as media gathered around and fans got into it. Return man Chad Morton laughed as he surveyed the scene, joking that the old “Bull in the Ring” routine was coming next.

Young centerpieces

The morning session was by far the best attended at camp to that point, with about 1,000 fans on hand. (The afternoon ended up with a strong crowd, about 1,600.) After practice there was much grappling for autographs, with spectators lined three or four deep and all sizes of hands thrusting footballs, jerseys, yearbooks and pennants at players who stopped en route to the locker room.

No players were more generous with their time than the club’s young centerpieces, LaVar Arrington and Patrick Ramsey. And that’s how it’s been throughout camp. In a Redskins year that could be labeled 1 A.D. (After Darrell), Arrington and Ramsey have deftly assumed their spots as the Redskins’ identity.

Later, after more than 30 minutes apiece with the fans, each shrugged when asked about such a role.

“I think it is that status for somebody on the outside looking in, but I really just try to spend as much time as I can being helpful to the fans,” Ramsey said.

Said Arrington: “I don’t do it for that. I’ve always done it, if I recall. This is who I am. I’d love to be in there sitting down, but [interaction is] important. That’s very important.”

Sometimes it was a real hoot, too. Arrington was hamming it up for the crowd, pretending to walk away until they chanted his name to come back, then challenging each contingent to yell the loudest. When one young fan called him “Mr. Harrington,” he pretended to get aggravated and walk away. Later, he gave a hard time to a woman who said she had been waiting “all day” for an autograph.

“Is it late enough to be all day?” he asked with a smile.

Not by the standards of Arrington and Ramsey.


“The physical nature of the game is setting in now. We’re in full pads, it’s football, we understand that, and we’re going to go with it.”

— Quarterback Patrick Ramsey, following Matt Bowen’s big hit on Trung Canidate.

“We finished fifth in the league in total defense. I think we utilized everybody OK.”

— Defensive coordinator George Edwards, sarcastically to a question about whether LaVar Arrington and Jeremiah Trotter were properly utilized last year under Marvin Lewis.



Draft picks Champ Bailey and Jon Jansen are the elder statesmen on the Redskins after the release of defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson on Tuesday. The Redskins traded draft picks to the Bengals for Wilkinson in February 1998.


Quarterbacks sacked by defensive end Bruce Smith in his 18-year career. Two, David Carr and Steve McNair, were added to the list in 2002.

Today’s schedule

Full-squad practices scheduled from 9 to 11 a.m. and 4 to 5:45 p.m. Gates at Redskin Park open at 8 a.m. Go to www.redskins.com or call 703/726-7411 for directions and daily updates.

Today’s weather

Weather: Cloudy. High: 78 degrees. Chance of rain: 30 percent.

Jody Foldesy

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