- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 26, 2011

DeAngelo Hall had just intercepted John Beck’s throw near the goal line Thursday during the Washington Redskins‘ informal minicamp when Beck approached the Pro Bowl cornerback with a question.

“What did you see that made you squat on that route?” he asked.

That Beck got his answer was exactly the purpose of the players-only practices that team veterans hosted the last three days at a Northern Virginia high school.

The 39 players that attended the final session scattered to different parts of the country believing that the practices were an oasis of production during an offseason that otherwise has been lost to the ongoing lockout.

“I think we made progress,” said defensive captain London Fletcher, one of the main organizers. “Granted, we don’t have coaches out here coaching all the techniques and fundamentals to a T, but the basic stuff we can get accomplished out here.”

The Redskins last month became the first NFL team to hold players-only workouts. About 30 players attended those two practices. This time there was more structure, as veteran leaders had a better sense of what they could accomplish.

Members of the decertified NFL Players Association staff attended each workout, and one noted that the Redskins‘ practice was much more organized than others he has seen during the lockout. Media reports from around the country suggest that the Redskins‘ minicamp this week was one of the best-attended and best-organized sessions of any team’s.

Fletcher spent time each day in the defensive backfield directing traffic while holding a playbook and script, just as a coach might under normal circumstances.

Beck made copies of the offensive playbook and distributed them to the rookies. Ten of the Redskins‘ 12 draft picks attended the workouts.

“I just kind of felt like if I was a rookie that got drafted and I didn’t know what was going on, I would have wanted someone to call me and say, ‘This is the plan. This is when we’re getting together, and this is what our offense looks like,’ ” Beck said.

The veterans’ initiative impressed the rookies. After being exposed to the playbook, terminology and schematic concepts during the last three days, they expect to be better prepared for regular practices when they resume.

“It’s huge to come into a place where people have established themselves as leaders and say, ‘Follow me,’ ” rookie running back Roy Helu Jr. said.

Several players also emphasized the importance of the camaraderie built during the week. Because the lockout has put the normal offseason program on hold and prevented players from working out at Redskins Park, some team members saw each other for the first time in months.

There was linebacker Chris Wilson ribbing fullback Mike Sellers about his choice of a tank top for the first practice. Players whooped and hollered when guard Kory Lichtensteiger caught a touchdown pass during team drills Wednesday. And several players stayed in town to participate in a team golf outing Friday organized by tight end Chris Cooley.

Beck, in particular, benefited from the workouts because he practiced almost exclusively on the scout team last season. If he is to win the starting quarterback job, he needs all the repetitions he can get in the Redskins‘ offense.

Hall’s interception taught him a lesson that could serve him in a game down the road.

“Now that I know that … if I come out of there and maybe feel [the cornerback] is flat-footed trying to jump something, I just chuck it out of bounds,” he said.

NOTES: The team’s assistant coaching staff on Thursday released a signed statement that it sides with ownership during the lockout. The staff also distanced itself from the NFL Coaches Association, which on Wednesday filed a brief in the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of players’ attempt to have the lockout lifted. … A Fairfax County judge on Wednesday postponed defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth’s misdemeanor assault trial to give Haynesworth a chance to settle the matter with the alleged victim. A new hearing is scheduled for May 31.

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