Washington Redskins

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Opportunities Lost

Opportunities Lost

The NFL is a merciless business. If you have a weakness, the other team will exploit that soft spot immediately and often.

The Redskins went into Sunday’s game in Seattle with a glaring weakness. They have one of the league’s best receivers in Santana Moss. The receiver that lines up opposite Moss is merely filling a roster spot. When he was in the lineup, James Thrash was an excellent special teams player but not much of a threat as a receiver. Taylor Jacobs can’t get separation from anyone and, in the rare times that he does get open, he makes you long for Rod “50/50” Gardner when it comes to hanging on to the ball.

If a team can take away Moss and not have to pay for devoting so many resources to that task, the job for the opposing defense becomes that much easier. For a while during the season-ending five-game winning streak, Chris Cooley was a viable option and he made some plays yesterday, but having an H-back as a threat is not the same as having someone who is capable of getting open deep down the field.

Yesterday the Seahawks were able to pack the box with eight and nine defenders with relative impunity. That led to a string of three and outs in the early going, a stretch during which the Seahawks were finding their bearings offensively and adjusting to the absence of league MVP Shaun Alexander from their lineup. It was an opportunity lost for the Redskins as they had just a 3-0 lead before Seattle got it going on offense.

The offensive problems weren’t all about the lack of a second receiver; Ray Brown missing some time due to cramps didn’t help either. Cory Raymer, a center, was clueless during a critical series in the third quarter. One of the reasons he stuck around as a backup with a seven-figure cap number was that he supposedly could provide depth at both interior line positions. At least on this critical day, that wasn’t the case.

And, certainly, while the quarterback gets too much of the blame in losses, the play of Mark Brunell has to be called into question. He was wild high all day, missing Cooley and Moss in critical situations. While he has said frequently that his right knee, injured in the win over the Giants, had nothing to do with his problems, there is no question that it did. Kudos to Brunell for not making excuses, but it’s no coincidence that his play deteriorated considerably in the three games after the injury.

The quarterback and receiver positions will be addressed this offseason. In the latter category, another receiver will be brought in via free agency or the draft, perhaps both, to provide depth and push David Patten for the second receiver spot.

At quarterback it will be primarily a matter of distributing existing assets. It appears that Brunell goes into the offseason as the starter. He is less than a full year younger than Brett Favre, the NFL’s oldest starting quarterback. But as we saw in 2005, there could be plenty of twists and turns in the quarterback story before the 2006 season opener and as the season unfolds

The view here is that it’s not a certainty that Patrick Ramsey will be traded. If Gibbs is not yet comfortable with Jason Campbell starting games—and at Brunell’s age the chances of him making it through 16 games are extremely slim--he may decide to forgo the third-round pick he might be able to get in exchange for Ramsey.

It was a disappointing end to the season because of the missed opportunities. But there is little question that this team went as far as it deserved to in terms of the talent on the roster. A modest upgrade there, along with playing a third season under the same coaching staff, should help the Redskins take the next step.

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Redskins' Doug Williams presents a special jersey to family of Jim Vance

Redskins' Doug Williams presents a special jersey to family of Jim Vance

On July 22, legendary D.C. broadcaster Jim Vance died at the age of 75.

During the first day of training camp on Thursday, Washington Redskins VP of player personnel Doug Williams, presented NBC4 sports reporter Carol Maloney with a gift for Vance's family.

RELATED: REMEMBERING JIM VANCE

The gesture by the Redskins was one filled with much respect for the award-winning anchor.

Vance was a staple for many D.C. locals, being a full-time anchor since 1972 for NBC4. 

Last summer, Vance revealed he had been diagnosed with cancer but never stopped working. 

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LIVE Redskins training camp practice report: Day 1

LIVE Redskins training camp practice report: Day 1

RICHMOND—The Redskins took the field for their first practice of the season. Jordan Reed is missing as was the usual stifling heat at the Bon Secours training center.It's warm but the humidity is down from the normal late-July sauna here. 

Here are my observations from practice as it unfolds. Come back and refresh often for the latest:

—Jamison Crowder still appears to be the No. 1 punt returner. Also fielding kicks off of the leg of Tress Way were Maurice Harris, Chris Thompson, and Will Blackmon. 

—The Redskins are practicing without pads per collective bargaining rules. A few are wearing shells. 

—New tight end EJ Bibbs just introduced himself to Vernon Davis as they were getting ready for some individual drills. Reminds me of a few year ago when a just acquired player was participating in stretching and they brought his contract out onto the field for him to sign. He wouldn’t have been able to practice otherwise. 

—Kirk Cousins just acknowledged a fan lined up near the sideline. ‘How’s it going, Derrick?” Derrick’s friends were properly impressed. 

—Maurice Harris showed good form in catching a Cousins pass over the middle against no defense. Nothing spectacular but but a good job reaching forward to pull in a pass that was ahead of him. 

—Harris with another nice catch, this time guarded over the middle by Will Blackmon. He is off to a good start in competing for playing time.

—Torian Gray is admonishing his defensive backs to “wake up, wake up.” On one rep he wanted Tevin Homer to “drive to the ball.”

—It looked like Josh Doctson had a step on Bashaud Breeland on a deep pass but the CB recovered and knocked the pass away. 

—A few plays later Doctson got deep again, this time against Quinton Dunbar. This time the CB couldn’t catch up and Doctson hauled in the pass.

—In the early going in 11 on 11, Will Compton and Mason Foster are the inside LBs with the first team and Joey Mbu is at nose tackle. Both situations could change over the course of the next few weeks. 

—Nice cut by Keith Marshall on a run around right end. He planted his foot and cut upfield with some serious burst. He’s a dark horse when it comes to making the roster but I’m keeping an eye on him. 

—Cousins with a dart to Terrelle Pryor along the sideline. A sharp and accurate throw. 

—Rain is approaching but it should hold off until practice is over. Meanwhile, the clouds and breeze are cooling things down. Nobody is complaining.  

—Pryor was assigned to block Josh Norman on a running play. Norman made a business decision not to contest the block and there was light contact as Norman backed down the field.

—Rookie Robert Davis made a solid back-shoulder catch on the sideline. I’m not sure if Colt McCoy intended for the pass to be back shoulder but that was where it went and Davis reached to make the grab. 

—What was that? Nate Sudfeld heaved one downfield to nobody in particular. Kendall Fuller got an easy interception, his second of the day. 

—That is from Richmond for today. Come on back tomorrow, we’ll do it again.