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Classic Camp Phenoms

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Classic Camp Phenoms


They're as much a part of summer as sunburn, triple-digit heat index readings, and mosquito bites. Every August, young players hopeful of making an instant impact in the NFL pop up at Redskins training camp. These phenoms create a buzz among reporters and the fans. Sometimes the player winds up being a star and sometimes it's all sizzle and no steak.

The original camp phenom was quarterback Sammy Baugh, the Washington Redskins first draft pick in 1937, the team's first year in Washington. His reputation as a gunslinger from Texas was already established and he arrived in a ten-gallon hat and cowboy boots. A crowd of about 3,000 gathered to watch his first training camp practice in California. Coach Ray Flaherty drew up a play on the blackboard and drew an X. "When the receiver gets to here," Flaherty said, pointing to the X, "you hit him in the eye."

Baugh responded, "Which eye?"

Baugh went on to lead the Redskins to the NFL title that year, the first of two they would win during his Hall of Fame career.

Arriving with considerably less fanfare in Carlisle, Pennsylvania in 1969 was Kansas State running back Larry Brown, the team's eighth-round pick in that year's draft. Almost nobody noticed him, with one important exception—Vince Lombardi. The legendary coach liked Brown's raw skills, but he noted in a coach's meeting that the back was a step slow getting off the ball. "Does that Brown hear?" asked Lombardi.

Tests revealed that he didn't, at least not in one ear. Once he was fitted with a special helmet that transferred sound from the side with the bad ear to the side with the good one, more observers began to take note of Brown. In a preseason game a few days after getting the helmet, Brown scored two touchdowns. Back in Carlisle, everyone began to notice his powerful running style and he earned a starting job. Brown went on to rush for 888 yards in his rookie season and 5,875 in his seven-year career.

One summer phenom who didn't have a stellar Redskins career was quarterback Babe Laufenberg. In fact, the 1983 sixth-round draft pick never took a regular-season snap for Washington. After spending two seasons on injured reserve, he was in a battle with Jay Schroeder for the backup QB spot. In training camp, he earned the respect of all, including Joe Gibbs. He gave it his all in training camp. "I've got a world of respect for Babe," said Gibbs. "No one we have has worked harder or had a better attitude. He deserved this opportunity."

His opportunity came at RFK Stadium in a preseason game with the Redskins trailing New England by six. With 1:04 left, Laufenberg led a drive from Washington's 26. Going four for five for 59 yards on the drive, Laufenberg earned a loud roar from the crowd when he threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Clint Didier with four seconds left to give the Redskins the win.

Babe won the battle, but lost the war. A few days after the comeback win, Gibbs decided that Schroeder had more potential and Laufenberg was cut.

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How playing at Alabama may have actually hurt Jonathan Allen's draft stock

How playing at Alabama may have actually hurt Jonathan Allen's draft stock

For the past few seasons, Jonathan Allen was a stud at the heart of Alabama's defense. He was far from the only stud, however, and that might be another factor in why he slipped to the Redskins at pick No. 17 on Thursday night.

The chief concern about Allen is the health of his shoulders, but there's also the question of how he'll do when he's no longer with Nick Saban's star-laden unit. It's easy to succeed when you're a part of a loaded ensemble cast, the thinking might've gone when it came to Allen, but how will you do on your solo project?

In addition to Allen, the Crimson Tide featured Marlon Humphrey (who went 16th to the Ravens), Reuben Foster (who went 31st to the 49ers) and others, like Tim Williams, Dalvin Tomlinson and Ryan Anderson, all of whom could go in Friday's second and third rounds. Together, that's a tremendous defense, but in the NFL, they'll be striking out on their own.

MORE REDSKINS: NORMAN, COUSINS, OTHERS WELCOME ALLEN TO D.C.

That's another possible explanation for why the Redskins were able to nab what was almost a consensus top-five prospect so late in the event.

"He's a really talented pass rusher but he's always been surrounded by enough talent that it's been hard for offenses to game plan their protection for him," one NFC director of player personnel told NFL.com.

Now, it's not like Allen is joining a bunch of nobodies in Washington. Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith and Zach Brown will also be lining up with him in Greg Manusky's front-seven. Oh, and Allen is no slouch either — the list of his strengths in this particular scouting report contains words like "superior," "proficient," "consistent" and "excellent."

But it is probably fair to say that, comparatively speaking, the rookie won't be amongst as many skilled guys as he was in college. By rushing to the podium to snag him, however, the Redskins clearly expect him to handle the NFL transition just fine.

RELATED: REDSKINS REPORTEDLY LOOKING TO TRADE ONE OF THEIR OWN    

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Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon could be out of reach for Redskins per oddsmakers

Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon could be out of reach for Redskins per oddsmakers

Florida State running back Dalvin Cook visited Redskins Park earlier this month. The Redskins did their homework on Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon in advance of the draft.

All of that pre-draft work might not matter though as Cook and Mixon will be off the board before the Redskins pick in the second round. At least according to oddsmakers.

Bovada.lv set over/under scenarios for both players. Cook lands at 38.5 and Mixon landed at 42.5.

[Related: Top end talent still available for Redskins in second round, but red flags remain]

Certainly both guys can go past the numbers established by the oddsmakers, but there's a reason drinks are free in Las Vegas. Oddsmakers tend to be very, very close when they set lines.

Considering that, if Washington wants either player, the team would likely have to trade up.

Much speculation has Cook the first player off the board to the Packers with the 33rd pick. It seems like a good fit.

[Related: Casserly says that Jonathan Allen is a more talented player than Solomon Thomas]

Mixon is more interesting. His loathsome action a few years back that was caught on video will continue to haunt him, but he will get drafted in the second round. He has the talent.

Bruce Allen has the capital to make a move. The team has nine more picks in the next six rounds. There's also the report that the team is shopping third-year pro Matt Jones.

Could a package of Jones and a late round pick entice a trade? It could.

Much like Thursday night, there will be plenty to watch Friday night.

More Redskins: Need to know: Five possible second and third round picks for the Redskins