As voluntary minicamp begins, Mike Shanahan and the Redskins are eager to get started
Friday, April 16, 2010
Two of the Redskins' biggest question marks will not be addressed at Mike Shanahan's first minicamp, but Washington's new head coach will be looking for smaller answers that could affect the team's draft next week.
While quarterback Donovan McNabb will be on the field with his new teammates, defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth and quarterback Jason Campbell are not expected to attend the voluntary minicamp, which begins Friday and concludes Sunday. Their futures with the team remain uncertain.
Most of the other players are expected to be at Redskins Park, where Shanahan and his staff will be watching closely. Shanahan has been reluctant to commit to starters or even schemes for the upcoming season, saying he's eager to see players in-person, rather than on film.
"The best players are going to play," Shanahan said. "We're going to have competition at every position. I'm looking forward to seeing which guys step up and which guys play."
He scheduled the first minicamp less than a week before the draft so the team might better understand its needs and adjust its draft board accordingly. The coaches will examine most positions, trying to determine whether a new safety is needed in the secondary, if they have the linebackers and defensive linemen to successfully convert to a 3-4 defensive scheme and if McNabb has enough weapons among the receiving corps.
All those areas could be addressed in the draft, which runs April 22-24.
The team will also begin installing a revamped offense, co-authored by Shanahan and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, and start teaching the principles of the new defense.
While the practices are technically voluntary for players, Shanahan has made clear that he expects perfect attendance. Since the team's offseason workout program commenced last month, Shanahan has said he wants to see a high commitment level from his team.
Shanahan has apparently agreed that Campbell could sit out this minicamp, as the quarterback's agent researches trade possibilities that might allow Campbell to start for another team. Haynesworth's absence might not go over quite as well.
Shanahan said he was disappointed that Haynesworth chose to stay near his Tennessee home last month rather than work out with his teammates at Redskins Park. The team tried to include Haynesworth in the deal that brought McNabb from Philadelphia, and the team is still said to be open to trading the defensive tackle, who signed with the Redskins as a free agent 14 months ago.
Some players whose 2009 seasons were cut short due to injuries are expected to attend the minicamp, including running back Clinton Portis, tight end Chris Cooley, safety Chris Horton and offensive lineman Chad Rinehart.
Defensive end Andre Carter, who could be moved to linebacker this season, underwent offseason surgery to repair a torn biceps. While he hasn't been cleared to participate in team drills, he does plan to show up at Redskins Park.
"I wanted to be here to support my teammates and get going on all the new stuff we're going to be doing," Carter said this week. "They haven't cleared me to do everything yet, so I'll just have to get a lot of mental reps and work with my position coach [linebackers coach Lou Spanos] on some of the things I'll need to do. But I wanted to be here. I felt I needed to be here."
Because Shanahan is a new coach, the Redskins are permitted to hold two extra minicamps this year. Under league rules, teams can hold up to 14 offseason training activity (OTA) sessions as a part of their offseason workout program. Most teams can have just one mandatory veteran minicamp. But newly hired coaches have the option of holding two additional voluntary minicamps.
In addition to this weekend's practices, Shanahan will reassemble his players for two more minicamps, one in May and another in June. The team has scheduled OTAs for the following dates: May 17-19, 24-26, June 1-3, 7-8 and 10-11.
The minicamps and OTAs are not open to the general public, which is standard for NFL teams. Shanahan is permitting reporters and photographers to watch two hours of Sunday's practice. Sunday will also be the first time Shanahan's coaching staff will be made available to reporters.
Staff writer Jason Reid contributed to this report.