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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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Josh Norman backs Kirk Cousins, points to Redskins' defense in argument with Jason Whitlock

Josh Norman backs Kirk Cousins, points to Redskins' defense in argument with Jason Whitlock

As the discussion rages around what the Redskins should do with free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins, $75 million cornerback Josh Norman made clear he wants the passer back. Norman explained that the 'Skins struggles should not be pinned to Cousins, but rather, a Washington defense that finished the year near the bottom of the NFL.

"We got to help him out of defense, and stop somebody on the field," Norman said on FS1 (click here for full video). "We did not help him out at all. I'll be honest with you. We got to do our job."

Norman's comments came during a spirited argument with Colin Cowherd, Jason Whitlock and Cris Carter in what amounted to a festival of hot takery. Whitlock's argument was that Cousins is not a franchise quarterback, and shoult not be paid as such, largely for losing the final two home games of the year against Carolina and the New York Giants.

Cousins passed for nearly 5,000 yards this year, a statitstic Norman pointed to in his defense of the QB. He also explained that Cousins still has room to grow.

"He only had two seasons," Norman said. "Cam Newton had five seasons."

Drafted in 2012, Cousins was just named the 'Skins starter in 2015. He's started every game the last two seasons and gone 17-16 while passing for more than 9,000 yards. Norman played with Newton in Carolina before signing with Washington last year, and got to watch the quarterback develop into the league MVP in 2015.

Norman described Cousins as a 'great guy' and leader in the locker room, but he allowed that, "I know a great guy don’t translate into wins. I'm not saying that."

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

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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The Final Countdown: Redskins 9th worst play of the year goes back to Week 1

The Final Countdown: Redskins 9th worst play of the year goes back to Week 1

As should be expected when a team goes 8-7-1, there were plenty of good moments and a lot of frustrating times during the Redskins’ 2016 season. Over the next couple of weeks, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will take detailed looks at the 10 best plays of 2016 and, to present a more complete picture of the season, the 10 worst.

No. 9 worst play of 2016

Steelers at Redskins Week 1

10:18 left in Q2, Steelers ball 4th and 1 at the Redskins 29, Redskins leading 6-0

Ben Roethlisberger pass deep left to Antonio Brown for 29 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

Related: Projecting the Redskins' roster--defense

Tandler: Things were looking up for the Redskins prior to this, even though they were unable to punch the ball into the end zone in two forays deep into Steelers territory and had to settle for field goals (a taste of things to come all year). The Steelers drove down the field and went for it on fourth and one. Because Joe Barry opted not to have Josh Norman travel from side to side with Brown, it was Bashaud Breeland with one-on-one coverage on the right side. Brown beat Breeland and DeAngelo Hall was late giving safety help and Big Ben put the ball on the money. The score put the Steelers ahead to stay.

More Redskins: An early look at first-round draft possibilities

Finlay: It's easy to forget now that the Redskins had an early lead in the opener against Pittsburgh. In fact, their defense started well, until this point. In something that would be repeated throughout the year, the Steelers did not hesitate to go for it on 4th down against the Washington defense. Breeland was in pretty good position on the ball, though Roethlisberger's throw was right on the money. It would be only one more week until Josh Norman would then start traveling to cover other team's best receivers. Beyond the immediate impact of this play, it also seemed to stay with Breeland as he struggled somewhat in the first half of the season.

10 best plays countdown

10 worst plays countdown

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN 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!