Saturday, December 30, 2006

Washington coach Joe Gibbs often brags about his players’ nearly unanimous participation in the Redskins’ voluntary offseason program. However, as another disappointing season comes to a close, several veteran players would like to see changes in what has become a grueling, near-mandatory regimen.

From March 20 to the start of minicamp three months later, players are expected to work out at Redskin Park four days a week. Two of those 90-minute workouts occur in the weight room with strength and conditioning coach John Hastings. The other two involve running on the adjacent fields.

Some veterans object to the type of weight training they’re asked to do. Others would prefer to work out near their offseason homes.

“When I came here [in 2004], I was big and strong and powerful,” defensive end Phillip Daniels said. “I ran through people. I can’t do that now. We all do the same program, no matter if you’re a receiver or a D-lineman. You’re going to run those 100-yard sprints, do the circuit [weight training]. But what I need ain’t what [receiver] Santana Moss needs. I need burst, quickness, reaction-type stuff.”

Daniels said that if he works out at home in Georgia, he can train with another defensive lineman or two on skills specific to that position.

“I’ll do what Coach Gibbs asks me to do, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to go back and do what I need to do to get ready,” Daniels said. “I was a better player when I was doing my own thing. When guys have been doing their own thing and been successful doing it, they probably need to go back and do those things that are best for this team to win.”

Center Casey Rabach also has gripes about the offseason program.

“With the [installation of the] new offense this year, they ran us into the ground and it showed up in a lot of situations,” Rabach said. “Guys’ legs were dead-tired. In Baltimore [his previous team], they had passing camps instead of OTA [organized team activity] days. The linemen didn’t have to be there unless the coach asked you to come. And we would go for 45 minutes to an hour. We weren’t there 8 to 5 like we are here.”

Defensive end Renaldo Wynn, the Redskins’ player rep, said the offseason program definitely needs to be discussed during exit interviews with Gibbs and his assistants next week. But Wynn admitted that these concerns wouldn’t be nearly as paramount if Washington was headed back to the playoffs for a second straight January.

“When you’re winning, you can deal with a lot more,” Wynn said. “When you’re not winning, you look at every little aspect of what we can do to make things better.”

Hastings, who tries to strike a balance between former Redskins strength coaches Dan Riley — who emphasized circuit training — and Dave Redding — who emphasized power-lifting — was surprised to hear about the players’ unhappiness but said that he’ll listen to their concerns when he and his assistants meet with them individually as well as their position coaches and trainers next week.

“We have a skeleton of a program and adaptions are made within that to fit individual needs, even going as far as substituting movements with ones they’re more comfortable with,” said Hastings, a 12-year NFL coaching veteran. “There are good, solid movements that are safe in all facets of lifting that can be put together in an effective football strength and conditioning program. We want to make everybody as structurally sound as possible. If Phillip wants to add parts of his power-lifting program, he can. I’ve told him that. As long it’s a safe environment that I can oversee, I’m fine with that because I’m ultimately responsible for these guys.”

Gibbs also is open to adjusting the March through June regimen.

“I don’t think we’re afraid to change,” said Gibbs, who plans to discuss the offseason program with selected veterans next week. “I certainly think we’re due for changes. Can you be here too much? I don’t know. I do believe that for a certain amount of time the team needs to be together. We thought we had a good program, but obviously we didn’t play well this year. We didn’t start well. It matters to me what the players think. Everything will be on the table.”

Moss noted that he had a healthy Pro Bowl year in 2005 when he spent much of the offseason at home in Miami, while he has endured an injury-hampered and less productive 2006 season after working out regularly this spring at Redskin Park.

“In Miami, I only do about five stations with a lot of reps,” Moss said. “Here we do eight or more stations and on the same day, we might also run, run routes and lift. You feel like you’re killing your body. Your body is getting pulled in so many different ways. Down there, I’m going to run first, lift my weights and I’m done for the day.”

Rabach said that the coaches need to have more faith in their highly paid players, who are pros, not amateurs.

“There’s something to be said for getting away from each other, getting away from the football scene for a little while, recharging your battery,” Rabach said. “One thing I liked in Baltimore a lot was if you could do what you needed to do somewhere else, feel free. I [know] that they have a lot of money invested in us and I can understand them wanting to keep a close eye on us. But we’re men. We know what we need to get done to be in shape for minicamp and training camps and we know the consequences if we’re not.”

Note — The Redskins placed linebacker Khary Campbell (hamstring) on injured reserve, making him unavailable for tonight’s game. Defensive lineman Joe Sykes was signed from the practice squad to take Campbell’s roster spot.

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