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Donovan McNabb's 'Hell Week' gives Redskins' offense a chance to get in sync

The Washington Redskins wrapped up a two-day minicamp in June at Redskins Park in Ashburn, Va.

After a rest, McNabb summons the players to an area high school field in the late afternoon, where they work on routes. They also will assemble for seven-on-seven drills, against other athletes trained by Fischer, including New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis.

For McNabb and his receivers, every repetition, every throw and every snap is another small step in one of the game's most important relationships.

"You want to get on that same page where he knows where I'm going to break out at when we're running certain routes," said Thomas, a third-year wide receiver. "Just so you can get that confidence to where we've done it before without the pads on and without the pressure on. So when we get in those clutch situations in games, you have that comfort level you need."

After the workouts, McNabb and his teammates head to a movie or dinner. The key, they say, is just being around each other as much as possible.

"Can't nothing but good come out of the situation when you go out and work out with your quarterback before the season starts," Thomas said. "It's a great time to build that chemistry without the coaches being there. You just get a little of that extra bonding time to lead into training camp."

The annual week was a staple of McNabb's offseason routine with the Eagles, and it brought him closer to former teammates such as L.J. Smith, Jason Avant, Hank Baskett and Lorenzo Booker. McNabb said running routes in July put the offensive specialists much more in sync when the regular season began several weeks later.

The effort also will further establish McNabb as the leader of a group that hopes to improve on last season's 4-12 record. With a different head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterback, the Redskins fielded the league's 22nd-ranked offense in 2009.

But with Mike Shanahan and McNabb now running the show, the Redskins have been trying to get the 2010 season off to a good start, and McNabb's "Hell Week" -- if everyone survives -- is the latest example.

"Some guys tend to go off on their own, work out on their own and do their own thing," Thomas said. "But for him to really collectively try to gather the guys that he knows are going to be key components in our offense, and get us all together to work for about a week, is a great thing that he's doing. It'll help us all out."

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