- The Washington Times - Monday, April 20, 2015

The two-month offseason workout program that will carry the Washington Redskins into training camp began on Monday with two weeks of strength and conditioning training and, according to two players, nearly everybody in attendance.

The voluntary program, held at Redskins Park in Ashburn, allows players to prepare for individual instruction beginning on May 4. Until then, they are not allowed to receive instruction or even supervision from position coaches and are able to do football-related drills on their own, provided they’re not wearing pads or helmets.

On Monday, it also served as a chance for players to acquaint themselves with new strength and conditioning coach Mike Clark, who was hired by the Redskins in January. Clark, who has held that role in the NFL since 2004, has set about overhauling the players’ training regimen by focusing more on movements that have a direct translation to the field.

“His philosophies, the kinds of lifts that we do as opposed to not using machines, it’s more free weights,” fullback Darrel Young said. “We’re doing stuff to kind of benefit every position and not just cater to what you do [individually].”

After spending two weeks focusing on strength and conditioning, players will be permitted to take part in drills under the guidance of their position coaches. That phase, which still does not permit contact between players, will last for three weeks, at which point the team will reconvene for organized team activities, which have more of a practice-type feel.

All players must be in town by June 16, when the Redskins open their three-day veteran minicamp. Though there was quite a bit of turnover on the roster after last season, when the Redskins finished 4-12, Young and inside linebacker Keenan Robinson said they believed everyone was present on Monday, which has been the standard at Redskins Park for the past four years.

“It’s great,” Robinson said. “It shows that everybody’s committed. That’s the first thing you take away. Everybody is committed to fixing the issues that we had last year and the year before — just not winning enough games. I want to be part of the solution to help win some games.

“I’m sure they wanted to, too, as well, so that’s why everybody showed up to hear what coach [Jay] Gruden had to say. Meet the new coaches, meet the new strength staff, see what expectations would be and then build up on that as the offseason goes on.”

Robinson said there was also a focus on Monday on camaraderie, which he believes can help the team succeed next season. After so many dismal finishes — the Redskins have ended the season in last place in the NFC East six times in the last seven years — players know it’s on them to do their part to turn things around.

“You don’t want to dwell on it too much, but you want to emphasize and say, ‘This is what we don’t want to be,’ and move on, because on a week-to-week basis, during the season — 4-12 last year was embarrassing, 3-13 the year before — those are points where we don’t want to be anymore,” Young said. “It’s just embarrassing because of what we practice for every day and what we stand for. We have a fan base that’s still behind us, so we need to be better for everyone, including ourselves.”

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