- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 12, 2004

Open camp ends

It was good while it lasted — and it didn’t last long.

A consistently packed Redskins training camp closed to the public after yesterday’s afternoon practice.

Coach Joe Gibbs, concerned (we’ll call him just a hair shy of “paranoid”) about losing any edge, is shutting out fans and reporters so the team can bunker down and start planning more strategy.

Media will be permitted to watch stretching and some individual drills as camp continues the next few weeks. The press is on scout’s honor not to reveal how close Kenyatta Jones comes to touching his toes. Gibbs will determine how much of practice is open to reporters on a day-to-day basis.

The crowds the past 1 weeks never failed to impress, peaking for Saturday’s Fan Appreciation Day at nearly 20,000. The smallest estimated crowd was about 1,500 — larger than all but the biggest days under Steve Spurrier in 2002 and 2003.

It remains to be seen whether the Redskins implement any structural changes to accommodate the current fan interest. The team’s headquarters often seemed overwhelmed by spectators in recent weeks, and views for some fans were downright peephole-esque. Club officials already are discussing moving Fan Appreciation Day to FedEx Field, where the lower bowl holds about 40,000.

Gibbs got one final ovation as he walked out to practice yesterday, acknowledging the crowd with a small wave. After the workout, he once again stayed late to sign autographs. He did look exhausted, though, as he conducted his press conference, sounding ready for closed camp to begin.

“I think there’s a certain part of football that needs to be sort of locked down, away,” Gibbs said.

Yoink!

Clinton Portis knows how to ham it up for a crowd, and the Redskins’ star running back saved his best for the last day of open practices.

Portis sneaked up behind fellow running back Ladell Betts during warmups, motioned for the fans to keep quiet and then yanked Betts’ shorts down to his ankles.

The crowd went nuts. Betts’ face burned. And Portis casually walked away as though he had no idea what was going on.

Yet another example of Portis’ quick first step.

OVERHEARD

“I’m your age.”

— New guard Ray Brown, 41, to former Redskins play-by-play man Frank Herzog, 59.

“That’s why we’re back — you miss throwing up.”

— Joe Bugel on how nervous he and Joe Gibbs were before Monday night’s game.

BY THE NUMBERS

42

How old Ray Brown will be at season’s end.

21

How old rookie safety Sean Taylor will be at season’s end.

Jody Foldesy and Mark Zuckerman

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