Ten Spot Tribute

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There will be no Ten Spot preview this week in light of the Sean Taylor shooting death. Instead, we'll offer up thoughts on Taylor, the week and the game. 21 of them.



1. The team will be ready to play. Bank on that one. By Friday, though the media was not allowed in the locker room, it sounded almost like a normal day in there, with some laughing and shouting. It probably felt good to the players and it sounded good to hear. They'll be ready.

2. I'm glad that Clinton Portis is not going to wear Taylor's jersey number, but it could have led to an unbelievably emotional scene had he run onto the field by himself in that number. But after hearing what he had to say about it, I'm glad he opted not to wear the number.

3. It'll be a long time before anyone at Redskins Park forgets this week, including the media. Nobody felt good interviewing players about a person they cared deeply about, seeing the hurt on their face and hearing it in their voices. Unbelievably draining for all involved.

4. Joe Gibbs is the perfect coach for this situation. Watching him up close all week, he mixed his hurt with composure; his eyes were red and moist but he was able to get out what he wanted to say about Taylor. Gibbs once wondered why he was brought back to the Redskins. Maybe it was to deal with this. Who else would you want in charge right now?

5. Dan Snyder comes through during tragic times for the organization. In the past couple of years, he's let players use his private plane to be with a former teammate who lost a child; to return to New Orleans during Katrina and now is flying them all to Miami for the funeral. There are management flaws in the organization, but he takes care of his players.

6. I first heard people talk about Taylor's transformation right as camp opened. Because he didn't let us in, so to speak, it was sometimes hard to fully see. But his teammates said it was real and they knew him best.

7. And know this: he reached out to a wider range of teammates in the past year. When the Redskins trotted in Pete Kendall during a press conference the other day, I wondered what he could really add about Taylor. Turns out a lot; he talked about a time after a game in which Taylor met and spent time chatting with Kendall's sons.

8. I loved watching how Gregg Williams used Taylor and took advantage of his speed and range. I'll miss that greatly. Taylor was finally becoming the dominant force many expected.

9. Shortly after Len Bias' death in 1986, the Browns lost a budding star at safety in Don Rogers. But Rogers died of a cocaine overdose. Both deaths are a shame, but never forget that Taylor died in his own home after he'd been in bed for hours with his wife and child in the room.

10. As someone who grew up in Cleveland, I always wondered how good Rogers could have been and what difference he would have made on the field. I'll now do the same with Taylor.

11. Clinton Portis will have a big day. Do I need to explain further?

12. Sunday will be the most emotional day at FedEx Field. For me, the first home game after 9/11, when they showed a video tribute and highlighted police officers in the crowd, was also powerful.

13. Reed Doughty is taking Taylor's spot, but rookie LaRon Landry must now take a bigger role. I don't know if he's ready for that, but it's obvious he has Pro Bowl potential. Landry has the speed to do what Taylor did, but it was the instincts this year that made the difference. Landry, though, can match the hitting.

14. It's hard to read some of the messages on the board. Makes you realize the impact these players have. But that's why I love sports and wanted to make my career in it; nothing else touches a community the way a sports franchise can. And thank goodness for message boards during a time like this; there's always someone there who is grieving with you.

15. The first time I saw Taylor on the field at Redskins Park, I thought he was a linebacker.

16. The Redskins can be faulted for not always finding the right guys at certain spots, but they have assembled a high-character group. It'll get them through a time like this.

17. I was raking leaves today and watching m 4-year-old ride his bike and stopped and thought: Taylor will never get to see something like that. So much was taken from him and his family.

18. It's important to bring up Taylor's past because it shows how much he had grown as a person. Friends even talked about conversations they had with him about how he said he wanted to do the right things now.

19. Taylor took a while to trust people. Though he did not quite trust the media, I'm confident he ultimately would have. Each year he let a few more people in and eventually more walls would have come down. The PR staff is confident of the same.

20. Here's a prediction: the defense will make a big play on the first series.

21. The Redskins will win.

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