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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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Redskins Stat Breakdown: What worked - and what didn't - against Arizona

Redskins Stat Breakdown: What worked - and what didn't - against Arizona

CSN has teamed up with The Edge Systems to provide the occasional statistical review of Redskins game film. The Edge is analytical football software currently being used by coaches in the NFL, SEC, ACC and the media, providing some of the fastest and best data in football.

Below is a breakdown of the Redskins run game against Arizona - a game coach Jay Gruden admitted did not feature enough carries for Robert Kelley. 

The Redskins had a lot of success with their GAP runs early in the game.

In the first half they were successful on 75 percent of their GAP runs. 

As the game wore on the Redskins moved away from what had been successful and only ran two GAP runs in the second half.

As their power running game vanishing, mirrored their prospects for winning the game.

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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State of the Redskins: Playoff chances trending in the wrong direction

State of the Redskins: Playoff chances trending in the wrong direction

Here is where the Redskins stand in Week 14 of the NFL season.

Record: 6-5-1, 3rd in NFC East
vs. NFC East: 2-2
vs. NFC: 4-4
vs. AFC: 2-1-1
Home: 4-2
Away: 2-3-1

Rankings and changes from Week 13

Offense (yards/game): 418.6 (2nd, no change from Week 13)
Defense (yards/game): 369.6 (23rd, +2)
Points for: 303 (10th, -1)
Points against: 295 (20th, -2)

Passer rating offense:  99.8 (8th, -2)
Opp passer rating: 95.0 (22nd, -3)
Yards/rush attempt: 4.5 (5th, no change)
Opp. yards/rush attempt:
 4.6 (29th, +2)
Weighted DVOA (Football Outsiders): 9.8% (10th, no change)
Playoff chances per FO: 41.5%, -14.1% from last week

Trending the right way: Not much, really. Their ranking in rushing defense improved a couple of notches but mostly because other teams got worse, not because the Redskins put the clamps down on the rushing game.

Trending the wrong way: For the first time in a few weeks the Redskins’ playoff chances are below 50 percent. Two straight losses will do that.  

Top three storylines:

Letting them have it—Jay Gruden is usually supportive of his team after a loss but that was not the case following the Cardinals game. He could be heard speaking to the team in angry tones in the locker room following the loss. We will see if this rare tirade jump-starts the Redskins’ stretch run.

Dealing with injury issues—Not only do the Redskins have to be concerned about the condition of Jordan Reed, whose status is unclear as he rehabs from a shoulder injury he suffered on Thanksgiving Day in Dallas, their starting center is in the concussion protocol. If Spencer Long can’t go the Redskins may have to add a center to back up John Sullivan.

Help wanted—The Redskins need other teams to lose if they want to make the playoffs. They need a little help if they win out to finish 10-5-1; they need more help if they finish at 9-6-1. Scoreboard watching starts at 4:25 on Sunday when the Bucs, a half-game ahead of Washington, host the Saints and continues on Sunday night football with the Cowboys at the Giants.

Next three games

Sunday @ Eagles (5-7)—The Redskins handled them well in October; the final score did not indicate how Washington dominated the game. The Eagles look more like a rebuilding team than a playoff contender and the Redskins could elimate them for all practical purposes

December 19 vs. Panthers (4-8)—The season of the defending NFC champs officially came off the rails on Sunday night when Cam Newton started the game on the bench because he didn’t wear a tie and he ended it looking at the wrong end of a 40-7 beatdown by the Seahawks. Still, the Redskins have never beaten Newton so this is not one that will come easily.

Christmas Eve vs. Bears (3-9)—There is no such thing as an easy game in the NFL but if the Redskins can’t manage to win this one they don’t deserve to make the playoffs.