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Redskins Park, Ashburn, Virginia, 8.11.05--It was back to the hot and humid conditions we had here last week as the Redskins took the field in half pads in their last full practice prior to Saturday night's preseason opener against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte. Most of the players who are out injured were seen working out, LaVar Arrington on a stationary bike, Shawn Springs doing some agility drills and Carlos Rogers trying to stay loose.
One guy who already was loose was Ray Brown. He was quite impressive during stretching drills, showing flexibility that would have been remarkable in any man, even more so for a player of his size (6-5, 318) and age (42).
As drills progressed, the decline and fall of Darnerien McCants did as well. Although he seems to be working hard, he just drops too many passes. Perhaps he'll turn out to be one of those guys that Joe Gibbs talked about on Tuesday, the ones that turn it on when they line up against a different team. McCants seemed to be slightly annoyed about questions about his practice habits and special teams participation, issues that hampered his playing time last year, when asked about them after practice. He didn't seem to be too keen on that "hitting" thing. That's unlikely to go over well with special teams coach Danny Smith.
Jonathan Combs is the longest of long shots to make this team. The 5-9, 230 undrafted free agent running back comes out of Texas College. That's not the Longhorns of the Big 12, it's the Steers of the Red River conference. To have a chance, such players must do everything just about perfectly. Combs' play on Thursday didn't quite fit that description.
Antonio Brown is starting to look like a wide receiver in addition to being the team's punt returner. When I talked to him last week, he didn't seem to be very enthusiastic about lining up on offense. Perhaps he still isn't, but he's certainly looking like a decent pro receiver out there. One thing he's not looking like, however, is the 5-10 height at which the roster has him listed. Seeing him standing next to Santana Moss, who I'm sure is 5-10, I'd have to figure that Brown is a good two, maybe three inches shorter.
I've tended to bust on Renaldo Wynn over the years as a guy who has started every game at defensive end for the last three years and hasn't made a single memorable play. That may be true, but the guy still plays for my team. After having missed the last four days due to a death in his family, Wynn came back and did what he's always done; he worked hard, showed great hustle and enthusiasm and got his job done. After practice he talked about Saturday's upcoming game and how the defense has been playing.
H-back Manuel White hasn't done much to distinguish himself to this point. This is not necessarily bad news; in fact, it should be expected from a player who is not only adjusting from college to the NFL but learning a new position as well. The former UCLA running back did make a nice catch on a swing pass later on in practice.
In light of the near-disaster Wednesday night when receiver David Patten ran into some equipment left carelessly near the practice field, you could see some particular attention being paid to it today when some equipment men were admonished to move coolers and water fountains away from the field.
Patrick Ramsey appeared sharper than he did last week or even earlier this week. He showed considerably more accuracy when he had to step up in the pocket against pass pressure. After practice, he talked about his progress and preparations for Saturday's preseason game.
As the practice wore to a finish, many of the players were understandably showing some signs of fatigue at the end of the second practice of the day in the heat. Many had their hands on their hips and were noticeably sucking for air. James Thrash was not one of those players showing fatigue. He was bouncing around like it was a cool October morning, running out everything and seeming to be unaffected by the conditions.
New tight end Robert Johnson sure is big. That's about all I can say about him, although he did exhibit some speed at a closed practice on Wednesday, hauling in a long pass on a seam route. Size and even decent speed guarantee a long look in the NFL.
After practice, I did get a chance to talk with the much-maligned Ade Jimoh. Unfortunately, I found out that I had hit the wrong button on my voice recorder and didn't get it for audio replay here. Those of you who bust on him regularly should know that he is aware of WarpathInsiders.com as a Redskins site, but he doesn't look at the message boards. He is one of the nicest players I've ever met and it's hard not to root for him to make it on that level. By the way, in what may have been a revealing slip that echoed the sentiments of many, he did say that he hopes that his contributions to the team are more on special teams rather than on defense.