By Howard Bryant
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
While the majority of the Washington Redskins' regular players were in attendance at the team's first organized activities of the offseason yesterday, two absences were noteworthy: Neither safety Sean Taylor nor cornerback Shawn Springs was at Redskins Park.
It is unclear whether Taylor, who works out in Miami, plans to attend the workouts, which will be held Tuesday through Thursday of each week leading up to the June minicamp, with one week off.
Taylor met with team officials five to six weeks ago and was expected to attend. However, numerous players suggested that Taylor likely would not be in attendance, a byproduct of his possible displeasure with his contract. Sources said that team officials were hoping Taylor was merely taking personal time and preparing to join the workouts. Sources added that Director of Player Personnel Vinny Cerrato and Taylor's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, had been in discussions in recent weeks regarding a contract extension for Taylor, whose contract expires after the 2008 season.
While attendance is voluntary, the coaching staff has encouraged players to attend, especially since Coach Joe Gibbs agreed to veterans' demands that they be allowed to do their offseason conditioning away from Redskins Park this past winter.
Taylor attended the voluntary workouts sporadically in 2004 and not at all in 2005, then had perfect attendance last year. Springs, meanwhile, is in Scottsdale, Ariz., where he has been working out for the past three months and enduring an uncertain offseason with the Redskins. In February, the Redskins asked him to take a $2 million pay cut and he refused. In the interim, he has been part of trade scenarios. Springs said he planned to attend the voluntary workouts later in the month, but wanted to remain focused on his Arizona training.
"My situation is cool," Springs said. "I'll be there in a couple, few weeks. It's not a statement about anything. All it has to do with is that I'm getting my work in here."
At least four players -- defensive ends Phillip Daniels and Renaldo Wynn, linebacker Marcus Washington and running back Clinton Portis -- attended yesterday but did not practice as they recover from offseason surgeries.
"You kind of feel helpless," said Washington, who had damaged cartilage and bone spurs shaved from his left hip. "It looks like I'm just going to be a coach on the sidelines."
Meantime, players seemed excited to get started. Offensive linemen Randy Thomas and Chris Samuels both said that quarterback Jason Campbell seems much improved. "He looks good," Thomas said. "I think he's much more comfortable. I'm looking forward to seeing him out there."
Before the voluntary workouts began, Campbell had wanted to work out with wide receivers Antwaan Randle El, Santana Moss and Brandon Lloyd, but the dates never materialized. Moss said he hoped to reschedule with Campbell during the six weeks between the mandatory June minicamp and the start of training camp July 27.
Whether that happens, players expect associate head coach Al Saunders's offense to be more successful in its second season.
"The sky's the limit with this system. You just have to buy into it," said running back Derrick Blaylock, who played under Saunders in Kansas City and was signed to the roster on Tuesday. "If you buy into it, study and learn, it can take you a long way."
Leading up to both the NFL scouting combine and the draft, the Redskins appeared to be leaning toward drafting a defensive lineman. The line was not dominant in 2006, producing just 13 sacks, and was susceptible to the run, especially the seam between right end and defensive tackle.
But the Redskins drafted safety LaRon Landry with the sixth overall pick, giving the line another chance to prove itself.
"Mark it down. This is going to be my best year," said defensive end Demetric Evans, who will see more work as Wynn and Daniels recover. "Everybody has a good feeling about the defense being more aggressive, so I'm ready to just let it fly."