- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 4, 2004

Helter swelter

Joe Gibbs picked the hottest day of the summer to hold his first mid-afternoon practice. With temperatures approaching 90 degrees and heat indexes exceeding 95, yesterday’s 2 p.m. workout became a sweltering affair.

Not that it kept fans from continuing to come out in droves. Despite the searing heat and the weekday afternoon starting time, a crowd estimated at 5,000 showed up at Redskin Park. One gate attendant said more fans walked through the turnstile in the first hour after gates opened than did for Saturday’s training camp opening session.

The surprising turnout caused some traffic headaches in the area around the park. At 1:15 p.m., 45 minutes before practice started, a half-mile line of cars sat idly on Loudoun County Parkway trying to make its way into the parking lot.

The limited number of practices open to the public this year has been part of the reason for the high attendance — there are only five more open sessions before Joe Gibbs closes the rest of camp in preparation for the regular season.

Let’s get ‘physical’

One word gets repeated over and over in reference to cornerback Shawn Springs: “physical.” Springs might not be Champ Bailey, the Redskins’ departed four-time Pro Bowl pick, but the club is confident Springs’ strength and game knowledge will make him plenty effective in Gregg Williams’ defense.

Those traits were on display in practice, where Springs muscled around wide receiver Laveranues Coles on several plays. The first drew particular attention from the crowd. Springs, covering Coles one-on-one on a short passing route, picked up his teammate and threw him to the ground.

“We need him, man!” a spectator yelled.

All’s forgiven?

The first player fight of camp broke out yesterday when tight end Robert Royal and linebacker Billy Strother went at it for about 10 seconds.

The brief tussle brought some cheers from the fans, but Royal and Strother couldn’t have been that mad at each other. Once practice was over, the two combatants were spotted signing autographs side by side.

Guess there are no hard feelings.

OVERHEARD

“That’s twice you missed it! They review you guys, too. You want to work the playoffs?”

— Running back Chad Morton to one of the officials at practice

“Hot!”

— Wide receiver Laveranues Coles to a fan who called out from the sideline, “How ya feeling, Coles?”

BY THE NUMBERS

29-21

All-time preseason record of coach Joe Gibbs.

22-23

Combined preseason record of the four Redskins coaches since Gibbs.

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Players are off this morning. Full-squad practice from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Gates at Redskin Park open at 3:30 p.m. Go to www.redskins.com or call 703/726-7411 for directions and daily updates.

TODAY’S WEATHER

Scattered thunderstorms. High: 81 degrees. Chance of rain: 40 percent.

Mark Zuckerman and Jody Foldesy


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