- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 2, 2009

It should be no surprise, Chris Samuels said, that the Washington Redskins’ defense held the edge in the first full-pads practice of training camp Saturday morning - a physical, two-hour, 15-minute workout that ended with 75 plays of team work.

Surprising? No. Not alarming. To be determined.

“They’ve got a lot of stuff they’re putting in, even though it’s their second year in the offense,” defensive end Phillip Daniels said. “As we go along, the offense will catch up and make some good competition.”

The competition was ratcheted up several notches after three practices in shorts. And the offensive line struggled mightily in pass protection, both in one-on-one work and during the seven-vs.-seven and 11-vs.-11 sections.

Mike Williams won some and lost some at right tackle, and Jeremy Bridges continues to prove his best spot is guard, not tackle. Samuels committed a pair of false start penalties.

“It’s a work in progress - our guys are working hard, and they’re going to get better and better,” coach Jim Zorn said. “Today was the first day where you can be explosive because of the full gear. Now it’s taking a step back before taking steps forward.”

Said quarterback Jason Campbell: “I thought the guys fought very well. There were battles won on both sides of the ball, and that’s how it’s going to be during training camp.”

The team work started with red zone, and Campbell completed five of his first seven passes and later threw a touchdown pass to Todd Yoder. The practice was extended because of Friday afternoon’s rainout.

“We had an excellent practice,” Zorn said. “Defensively, they were where they were supposed to be and they covered down on our guys very well. We got a few plays in [offensively] that were promising, and we had a lot of things we were working on. We ran plays against our defense in certain situations; it was the first time we had worked on them. It takes precision by everybody, and we are learning. We’re further ahead of last year, no question.”

Randle El still on punts

Despite a 6.5-yard average and a league-high 21 fair catches, Antwaan Randle El will remain the regular punt returner.

“[Randle El] is going to be the guy, but you might see a little more by committee,” special teams coach Danny Smith said. “Who that committee is going to be, let’s see how the roster comes out. There are a lot of guys in the mix. My job in the preseason is to see if one of those guys can do it.”

Santana Moss returned six punts last year (including an 80-yard touchdown), and DeAngelo Hall has campaigned to be involved. A greater mix of Moss and Hall is a possibility.

No plan for kickers

Fifty-five players, including five starters, were on the field for a 60-minute special teams practice Saturday afternoon that focused on fundamentals.

“I’m a big drill guy and technique guy, and we’re just teaching them drills - putting them in game situations through drills,” Smith said.

Kickers Shaun Suisham and Dave Rayner were spectators during the workout. Smith hasn’t finalized a plan as to when each will kick during a game, and he hasn’t been assured by Zorn that both kickers will be on the roster for the entire preseason.

“Nor has [Zorn] said I have to make a decision after Week 2 [of the preseason],” Smith said. “I’m not trying to rush it, but we’re not going to keep two to just keep two either.”

Big day for Kelly

Malcolm Kelly donned pads for the first time since December and not only survived the workout but thrived with a strong performance.

Kelly’s best catches came when he contorted his body in midair to corral a pass from Colt Brennan and when he held on to the ball over the middle after being leveled by safety LaRon Landry.

“I saw him flash on several occasions,” Zorn said. “As he becomes more and more comfortable being down the field full speed and making breaks, we’ll see more and more improvement.”

Injury updates

Cornerback Carlos Rogers sat out the team portion of the morning practice after his calf tightened up. He expects to practice Sunday.

Rogers’ absence meant more time for rookie Kevin Barnes, who deflected a pass that was intercepted by Robert Thomas.

Late in the practice, Williams and offensive lineman Rueben Riley left the field to receive extra fluids. Fullback Eddie Williams (hamstring) sat out, and running back Dominique Dorsey (cramps) returned after missing Friday. Riley returned for the special teams workout.

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