For a second straight day, Washington Redskins players convened Wednesday for a voluntary, self-led minicamp with the aim of staying in shape and being ready if the NFL lockout is lifted.
Meeting at a high school in Northern Virginia, the 30 players went through agility and position drills before running through a script of passing plays so quarterbacks could regain their timing with receivers and defensive players could brush up on coverage assignments.
The circumstances weren’t perfect. At times defensive lineman Kedric Golston lined up at free safety to help out free safety Macho Harris, and at one point, nose tackle Ma’ake Kemoeatu went on a pass route so linebacker Rob Jackson had someone to cover. But the Redskins said they appreciated the two-day reunion, their first since last season ended Jan. 3 at a disappointing 6-10.
“It’s good just to get with the guys, get that team atmosphere and get that swagger back with the guys,” said Kemoeatu, who finished last season on injured reserve after shoulder surgery. “Whether there is a season or isn’t a season, guys are just happy to be out here breaking a sweat.”
On Tuesday, 25 players turned out for the minicamp, which players led because lockout restrictions prohibit coaches from having any contact with members of the team. Of the 30 on hand Wednesday, 22 were repeat participants, and eight came out for the first time.
Some were well-entrenched starters such as cornerback DeAngelo Hall and fellow Pro Bowlers London Fletcher and Brian Orakpo. Special teams captain Lorenzo Alexander, tight end Chris Cooley and seasoned veterans such as fullback Mike Sellers and defensive end Phillip Daniels were also there.
But a strong majority of the participants were younger players – such as Harris, defensive end Jeremy Jarmon, linebacker Rob Jackson, receiver Malcolm Kelly, running backs Keiland Williams, Ryan Torain and Andre Brown, offensive lineman Selvish Capers and others -- who will be battling for roster spots and playing time this fall.
The deepest position was tight end, where both backups, Fred Davis and Logan Paulsen, joined Cooley. Anthony Armstrong was the only starting receiver, but Kelly – who was on IR all of last season with a hamstring tear – and second-year receivers Brandon Banks and Terrence Austin were there. Armstrong, Kelly and Austin ran routes while Banks mainly fielded kicks from Graham Gano.
“You can see the commitment these guys have to our team,” said linebacker London Fletcher, who organized the workouts. “We want to play football. With the owners locking us out, we’re just trying to make the best of the situation and hopefully they’ll get this thing settled pretty soon so we can get back to what we love to do.”
Quarterback Rex Grossman, who ended the year as the starter but has no contract for next year, came out for a second day. He flew up from Florida this week to reconnect with receivers. Fellow quarterback John Beck, who is under contract but didn’t appear in a game last season, flew in from San Diego.
“It’s that important,” said Beck, who this offseason has been training with Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers and intends to challenge for the starting job this fall. “It’s about coming out here with your teammates and getting better. This lockout situation makes it tricky for all of us to get together, but to have an effort like this – we’ve got  guys out here today – that’s pretty good. When this thing does end and the doors are open, it will put us in a good position.”
Said Grossman: “I’m just trying to get ready for the season. There are a lot of uncertainties throughout the season from A to Z. I’m trying to get ready and it was nice to throw to some familiar receivers. … I’ve got a few things in my mind that I hope happen, but I’ll be ready in whatever scenario comes out.”
Fletcher scheduled the camp for only two days, but some of the players planned on getting together again this week to continue working. Fletcher said that if the lockout persists, more workouts will be scheduled.
“We just don’t know how long it’s going to last, so we’ve got to be ready to play our best football,” he said. “I’m an optimistic person. That’s the way I am about everything. I feel the game is too important to our fans not to play this year. We have a lot of people whose livelihoods depend on it, and I’m not talking about players, I’m talking about fans, people who work in stadiums and restaurants and really depend on this throughout the year. It’s just too big, too important. We can’t mess this up. We have to get back to playing football.”