By Andrew Astleford
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF
Days until the Redskins open the season against the Giants on Sept. 4 in East Rutherford, N.J.TODAY'S SCHEDULE
All remaining practices are closed to the public.FRESH FACE: CURTIS GATEWOOD
The struggle makes linebacker Curtis Gatewood stronger. No task worth pursuing in life is simple, he assures himself. He's an undrafted free agent, so he hardly needs any more reason to be motivated.
When he starts to feel fatigued, he urges his will to keep pressing, because the next snap could be his last. When complacency dulls his mental edge, his heart beats faster, because some at Redskins Park don't give him a fighting chance.
"It's a humbling position, but one thing I've found out through college is that those humble situations make you stronger," Gatewood said. "Just being in this humble position has given me a chip on my shoulder, given me something to prove."
He's hoping to prove he belongs. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Vanderbilt product said the fear inherent with being an undrafted free agent either soothes or sabotages a player's psyche; the uncertainty can carry someone to new heights or make the countdown toward roster cuts painful and slow.
"For him, he can't get caught up about where he is on the depth chart or being an undrafted free agent," linebacker London Fletcher said. "Once you're out here, we're all on the same level. All you can do is come out and compete and worry about getting better and improving each opportunity he gets."
Gatewood wants more. He understands his place, but he dreams of listening to a crowd's pregame buzz and the crack of contact upon kickoff. A Sunday symphony awaits, and he wants to live it all.
"I just wake up everyday having my expectations high," Gatewood said, "because if [reality is] lower, it's a peaceful feeling, because I know I'm prepared mentally."ZORN WATCH
With the first preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts less than a week away, Coach Jim Zorn and his staff began game-plan preparations yesterday.
Zorn said the team will focus on areas they have addressed during the eight days of training camp, with a few additional wrinkles to be added.
"We're trying to build a skeletal game plan," Zorn said. "Although we still have to get our work done, we have another installation together. We don't game-plan specifically for Indianapolis as much as making sure to first take care of the things we have in."
Players haven't noticed much of a change. For a majority of the first session, they practiced in full pads, as they have during other morning practices of late. Later, offensive and defensive units strayed from the practice fields, because the afternoon session was dedicated to special teams.
In the coming days, players expect preparation to take a more relaxed approach. Starting today, practices will be closed to the public, and players expect a lighter intensity at future sessions.
"It was pretty much what we've been doing since Day One," tackle Chris Samuels said.QUOTABLE
"We had one fight at OTAs earlier, and I tried to jump in. As I was jumping in, one of our offensive linemen grabbed me and said: 'No, no, no. No, Coach, stay out of there.' "
Zorn, recalling a fight during offseason workouts in June in response to a question about the lack of scuffles during training campINJURY REPORT
LB H.B. Blades left the morning session with an injured left knee is scheduled to have arthroscopic surgery today. . . . RB Eric Shelton left the morning practice with a neck injury. . . . S Stuart Schweigert left the morning practice with a strained right calf.NEXT UP
What: Hall of Fame Game
Who: Redskins vs. Indianapolis Colts
When: 8 p.m., Sunday,
Where: Canton, Ohio