Monday, Aug. 4 at 1:00 p.m. ET

Redskins Training Camp

Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 4, 2008; 1:00 PM

With one preseason game down, Washington Post staff writer Jason La Canfora was online Monday, Aug. 4 at 11:15 a.m. ET to take your questions about how things are going and what to expect from the Redskins this season.

The transcript follows.

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Jason La Canfora: Hey guys, sorry to be running late. Was a change in the schedule as to when Coach Zorn would be doing his presser.

Rookie WR Malcolm Kelly may be getting his knee scoped today in Birmingham, Ala., Zorn said (the coach had yet to hear a final decision on that). That was the big news from his media conference. Also, rookie WR Devin Thomas, another second round pick, will likely not return to full practice this week and miss Saturday's home preseason opener.

Okay, with that out of the way, have at me.


Burke, Va.: JLC:

Do you see most of the guys that Colt Brennan was playing against eventually becoming UPS drivers, or do you see them as landscapers?

Just trying to calm down Redskins Nation about this year's Babe Laufenberg.

Jason La Canfora: The Colts went with a barebones operation for the most part and indeed, it may have been the Argos vs. the Alouettes, or the RoughRiders vs. the Rough Riders when we got to the second half.

Give them credit for making some plays and showing a swagger, but Zorn said Brennan made way too many risky plays and did not play with the type of tempo the coach demands.

Overall, it was a good showing, but he is very raw and a kid who really shouldn't be truly evaluated until the end of the 2009 -- yes, 2009 -- season at the earliest, in my opinion.

Some people will get carried away -- remember Osaka, guys? -- but hey, that's all part of being a fan and a win is always better than a loss (okay, not if you win and lose 3 starters in an exhibition game, but, aside from that).


Washington, D.C.: Obviously the result doesn't matter, but when your mindset is to keep the game close at all costs, big punt returns, missed FGs etc. end up costing you the game. When your mindset is to score TDs, that stuff becomes much less important.

Jason La Canfora: No doubt partner.

I love the fact that Zorn isn't going ga-ga over the opposition every week, doesn't talk about players like they might break into tears lest he criticize them. It's refreshing to hear a coach speak with conviction about going for the throat, and then actually knowing he's going to back it up with his playcalling. I have no doubt this guy is going to play to win, not just try to play not to lose.

He may end up failing way more than he succeeds, but I applaud the mindset nonetheless.


Richmond, Va.: Can you pass anything along about the game/a player that hasn't otherwise been mentioned?

Jason La Canfora: I thought Chad Rinehart did a helluva job playing two positions as a rookie alongside a pretty rough second-and-third-team offensive line, and Zorn lavished him with some big praise in his press conference today.


Maryland: If the NFL draft were held today, after yeterday's nationally televised game, what round would Colt Brennan be taken in?

Jason La Canfora: He'd still be on the board when the 'Skins picked him.


Washington, D.C.: Most important thing for me, no dumb penalties, no bad clock management, no terrible timeouts. Long live Z-Man.

Jason La Canfora: Indeed. For a dress rehearsal, and Zorn's first time ever as a head coach, it seemed to be a smooth operation.

Now, make no mistake, it will get dicey sometimes when real games are riding on the line, but I get the sense that in general Zorn is a very decisive guy who does things with conviction, and my hunch is he won't spend undue time sweating things out.


Washington, D.C.: Anything to read into Brooks taking the punts? Is it just that Frost is a known commodity so the coaches are just seeing if Brooks is consistently better?

Jason La Canfora: Zorn said that the goal was to throw a ton at Brooks and see how the kid reacted. Frost will get plenty of punts, too, but they wanted to see how the youngsters responded in primetime, on national TV.

His first punt was shaky -- gotta get that down inside the 10 -- but nothing major. He got better and better, and no shanks.

Overall, I though the rookie draft class shined.


Asheville, N.C.: When Phillip Daniels went down, you cited London Fletcher as saying Daniels was going to be missed too as an effective inside pass rusher on third downs. Who is to take on that role now, do you know?

Jason La Canfora: Demetric Evans. He is very versatile and will be the inside-push guy in the nickel package.

I have a feeling we see more of Evans on first and second down as the year goes on, too, but that's just my gut.


Charlottesville, Va.: With Kelly and Thomas ailing, do any of the WRs we saw last night have a chance to make the roster now? Do they keep 7 WRs to start the year? And Marcus Mason looked great, what shot does he have to make the roster?

Jason La Canfora: Keeping 7 might be a real luxury, what with guys like Rocky and Carlos not eligible for the PUP list, and thus you're carrying two guys who may need to be spelled a lot right there off the bat.

Toller, Mann, and McMullen all looked good at times. Mix is probably the WR most impacted by his injury situation right now.


Trucker City, USA: JLC: What's up with people pointing out that Brennan played against future grocery baggers? Unless I'm mistaken, he wasn't out there with an all-pro lineup of his own. Why do people act like that only goes one way?

Jason La Canfora: Trucker, you are right about that. It was CFL vs. CFL, as I pointed out, and the kid made plays.

I would caution against making too big a deal out of the pros and cons of his performance and let's give him time to show what he can do over a couple of preseasons.


Chantilly, Va.: How fast do the 'Skins sign another kicker and what did Coach Zorn say about the missed chip shot? It cost us in Seattle last year.

Jason La Canfora: He was definitely not pleased with it, after the game, saying Suisham needs to make those.

I wouldn't push the panic button just yet, but if it continues you never know. Virtually impossible to carry a backup kicker and punter with these new roster restrictions, though, so you'd better be sure that the dude you bring in is definitely better than what you've got (there's a cliche in there somewhere, but, working on 3 hours of sleep, I'm content that I can merely type right now).


Washington, D.C.: Were there any hints as to how long Malcolm Kelly would be sidelined after getting his knee scoped?

Jason La Canfora: He didn't get it scoped. Maybe I miswrote that in the intro, but Zorn was waiting to get word whether Andrews would scope him or not. Kelly was being evaluated while we chatted with Zorn, and the staff had not yet heard the results of the tests.


Westminster, Md.: Do you think Rock will see the ball more this year? How does he fit in to Zorn's schemes?

Also, any thoughts on the Steve Smith 2 game suspension?

Jason La Canfora: I would hope so -- again, always as a full disclaimer, I'm a Rock guy -- but barring injuries in this crowded backfield, I doubt it.

People forget that Rock does everything on special teams. He's not just the kick returner -- he is on every single punt and kickoff unit, return and coverage. He makes big tackles, can work as a gunner, is the personal protector (if you think that job is as easy as it looks, well, ask Archuleta how that turned out for him).

So he's carrying a huge load already, and if a RB goes down in a game, then he's next in line. I don't see that role changing a ton, but I do think this staff will more diligent about tossing certain plays into games specifically for certain players, and Rock could be one of those guys in the right situation.


Los Angeles: What about the safety play last night? You could tell Doughty was down on himself after a couple of those Indy third down conversions, and rightfully so. Not the best performance from him. Chris Horton looked good against the CFLers, though.

Jason La Canfora: Indeed, the pass coverage was suspect early, but, again, the defense only had about five real starters out there and was missing difference makers like Fletcher -- who runs that side of the ball -- and were playing within in a very limited scheme.

I think the tandem of Landry at free safety and Doughty on the strong side will be just fine, but when you're talking about having Reed or Schweigert playing centerfield and Landry out injured, well that changes the complexion of the entire defense.


Petworth: Jason,

Is there a decent chance the team will bring in another running back before the regular season starts? Looking at the roster, it seems like the offense could use another blocking back with some experience?

Also, do you see a chance for Colt Brennan to challenge for the backup job?

Jason La Canfora: With Betts back soon, and Portis and Rock and Mason there as well, I think that's actually a position where they are stocked. Plus they are carrying Broughton as an extra FB, so he could eat up preseason carries if need be as well.

I think there are other positions where they could really need another body, but the roster limit is the roster limit.


Fairfax, Va.: What's the thinnest part of this team right now? Yes, they have injuries at WR, but the key guys are healthy. Isn't it OL AGAIN?

Jason La Canfora: Well, if Heyer and Wade miss all week -- Zorn said both of their injuries seem minor right now -- then O Line indeed, tackle and center in particular.


D.C.: Loved that even the veterans were giddy and dancing after the first score ... loved that a few of them jumped Darrell and, especially, Art when they walked out ... and loved that there were only 4 'Skins penalties .... after the last few dumb dumb years, cutting down those penalties not only saves yards, it demonstrates a much more disciplined and executing team.

Oh, and of course Colt is the next Sonny ...

Jason La Canfora: You had me up until that last line. Nah, I'm with you, I know you were kidding about the kid QB.

It was a pumped up sideline. Not sure if they caught it on TV, but Griffin was like jumping up and down and signalling for a hold like a wildman on the return by the Colts for a TD that got called back on a penalty (listing to the pressbox announcer say Pierre Garcon 9 million times last night never got old. I don't know a thing about the kid, but with a name like that I am definitely hoping he cracks the Colts' final 53).


Brennan? uh he's no Johnny U: I like Brennan but there were a few throws last night that will get picked off by starting d-backs. Heck, they should have been picked off last night.

Jason La Canfora: Exactly. Hey threw it up for grabs several times and luck was on his side, but Z-Man sees everything my friends. He knows. He knows.


Anonymous: Gotta get a Brett Favre question in here even though I'm tired of hearing about it. If you were working as a beat writer in Green Bay what would your question be to him?

Jason La Canfora: Brett, can you call my insurer, make sure my wife and kids will be okay from my benefits, and then put a slug in my stinking head right now, because I can't stand to cover this debacle any longer?


Vint Hill, Va.: Jasno --

WOW! What a weekend for fans!!! It was great to see J. A. Monk get the ovation of a lifetime, and to hear him speak.

It was also great to see the team play and LOOK so well coached and prepared in their first game, especially since so many first teamers were out! Did your little ones get to the HOF or did yo make the trip singleton?

Thanks to the DVR, I really took a look at some new guys, and it seems Team Vinny MAY have made some good choices with the following: Colt Brennan... Andrew Crummey... Chris Horton... Chris Jackson... Brooks Bernard...

Some others that had good plays, Fred Davis and Matteral Richardson... Vinny seems to have potentially done a better than average job this year and may have found some players... second year guys Torrence and Mason were OUTSTANDING... what are you hearing about WHO really shined last night?


Jason La Canfora: Thanks for the enthusiasm. Always a great pick-me-up on a sleep deprived Monday.

I was solo -- except for my fellow Postie hommies -- and, alas, my babies are in bed by 8:30. We don't do no night games; if it don't start by 1:30, we're not going to be able to do it.

As they get older though it would be awesome if they shared my love of sports and we could experience things together.

As to your larger question, you pretty much nailed the list. It was a night for the reserves and several stood out.


Racine, Wisc.: If you owned the 'Skins, would you trade for Favre? Who would you give up?

Jason La Canfora: I wouldn't do it now. Would be a complete and utter circus and you'd be crushing Jason Campbell for one year (maybe two) of a guy who wasn't even sure he wanted to play and still might quit if the price is right.

Favre is a stud and for some teams I think it makes sense, but to do that now, here, in August, would be crazy to me.


talent evaluator: Rob Jackson -- Is he going to be a playuh? And how about Fred Davis? Is he big for the Zornskins?

Jason La Canfora: Way too soon to tell. Loved Jackson's burst, but he was clearly caught several times well, and you could see how over-amped he was (especially when jumping offsides).

He'll battle Chris Wilson for that speed rusher role and certainly showed an ability to make some plays last night.

The next four games will tell the tale.


Potomac, Md.: I thought Zorn did great for his first time at the helm. Can you explain what is the benefit to scripting the first 15 plays of a game and second half.

Jason La Canfora: Zorn likes it because it keeps him focused, allows him to prep well for the game and, after spending all week coming up with what they thought was the best way to attack a defense, sticking to the script ensures he doesn't go too far off on his own or just start trusting hunches rather than what they truly invested the most time honing in practice.

It's become very common around the league and is something a lot of West Coast guys do.


Arlington, Va.: Jason, I've seen mention to Zorn scripting the first 15 plays or something like that. How does that work? I thought that playcalling would be situationally. For example if it is 3rd and 1, generally the play call would be different than if it was 3rd and 10.

Jason La Canfora: Perfect piggyback.

Yes, if they find themsleves at third-and-15 on the third play of the game, and the script calls for an inside power running play, then Zorn will turn to the part of sheet with third-and-long plays (or plays to capitalize on a particular match-up for, say, Moss or Cooley, rather than call that running play.)

But in general he wants to stick to the program to establish a tempo and rhythm they desire.


Punters: Jason,

Hi. Missed the game but saw where the Skins had four punts. Did Frost and new guy split the punts? How did the rookie do.


Jason La Canfora: It was all Durant, and his final three were solid.

He earned good marks from Zorn.


Dodgeville, Wisc.: I have film footage of a young QB in a Falcons uniform running around, throwing the ball all over the place, throwing while scrambling - throwing off his back foot, looking a little - well, crazy. (against the Redskins, no less) The QB was a guy named Brett Favre, and last year one of his most amazing passes was while falling back awkwardly, trying to throw the ball some 40 yards down the field. No one tried to make him into a cookie-cutter QB, although they did work to improve his footwork. Your posts last week talked about Colt Brennan being years away from playing because everything needs to be corrected. It sure didn't look that way. In fact he reminded me of Brett - in spirit and somewhat in skills. So why do coaches try to make everyone do everything the same because they believe it's the only way

Jason La Canfora: Yikes.

Let's be real here. After one preseason game no one though Brett Favre would become, well, Brett Favre. And Favre's mechanics are more solid than Colt, his arm-power is off the charts compared to Colt's -- Favre was wild and erratic as a kid but had a fastball and all the talent in the world -- and Colt played in a college system that rarely translates to the NFL.

Favre was a wild child, but had unbelievable gifts. Favre was a second round pick, for goodness sake, and some people didn't think Colt would get drafted at all.


Reston, Va.: Jason -- Jon Jansen, is it time for him to retire? Also, does the atmosphere around this team now prove how painful the Gibbs part 2 era was?

Jason La Canfora: Yikes. That's a bit harsh, no?

I think Jon has slowed a bit with age and his pass protection was not what it once was, but man, he was only out there like 9 plays total in his first real work since Week 1 last September.

I wouldn't go giving his job to Heyer or Wade or whomever else right now. He's the second best tackle on this team, to me, without much debate.


D.C.: Just curious ... if they script the first 15 plays, why not go no-huddle since they know what the play is?

Jason La Canfora: In certain situations -- with a crazy crowd on the road, playing a game that really matters -- they certainly could.

But with these guys just learning the system, I sense Zorn wants to get them into a normal routine and get them used to running the base offense at a nice pace, but still within the normal confines.

When they get this thing down I would expect to see a fair amount of no huddle, and I am most curious to compare this new offense in the 2-minute and 4-minute offense compared to what we saw -- or didn't see -- under Gibbs/Saunders in those situations.


SU: I know I will get bashed by Redskins nation, but I don't care about the HoF weekend and what it means for the Redskins. I didn't watch one moment of it and don't plan to.

Good for Monk and Green and the rest but I just can't get into it.

Am I missing something here?

Jason La Canfora: It's definitely not for everyone. I can see that. All of the modern guys in the Hall, for the most part, got a ton of adulation and kudos throughout their career, and for the guys who have played in the free agency era, they generally got paid pretty darn well, too (though I continue to believe football players are grossly under-paid compared to their brethren in the other major pro sports).

I was talking to friends about it, and in my fandom, I've always pulled for teams over all else. I had certain players I lived and died with, but seeing the team do well is what it's all about, and I couldn't see myself doing the induction thing, though I certainly understand why some fans do chose to celebrate those careers as they do.

Anyway, don't feel like you need to bring this up with your shrink or anything, at least not in my humble opinion. I feel you.


Brooklyn, N.Y.: Hi Jason -- Any thoughts on J. Campbell? I know everyone is talking about Colt Brennan now, but last I checked the starting QB had a pretty good outing too....

Jason La Canfora: JC looked great. Again, it doesn't mean a whole lot, but a very nice start.


Random Qs: Okay JLC,

First, when does Barry Svrulga relieve you as the beat reporter for the 'Skins? Or does he? Secondly, does the US men's U-23 team medal in China? And regardless of whatever happens to Colt B., he was fun to watch and there was some energy in that 2nd half when he was taking snaps.

Jason La Canfora: Man, rapid fire stuff. I like it.

Barry will be joining this beat in some capacity at some point when he returns from China. Not trying to be vague but that's about all I know of the matter. Looking forward to another guy joining the fray, but I'll still be doing the blog, writing stories and on-football columns, so you aren't rid of me just yet.

As for the Under-23, I'm not high on Novak. Not sure he will cut loose and let this talented group have fun and play attractive football. They haven't scored hardly at all for him and nearly bowed out in qualifying. I heard there was a lot of dissent in that camp, and too many kids acting like primadonnas (also highly ironic that Freddy Adu, of all people, bailed the coach out and pretty much willed that group through qualifying). So, now, I don't see a medal.

And Colt was a gamer and loving being out there, and you can't hate on that.


Washington, D.C.: Why did the television broadast show the political affilitations of some of the players last night? We kept seeing graphics like "Colt Brennan (R)."

Jason La Canfora: That's a joke, right? (And if it isn't, don't mean to be snarly).

But that's R for rookie, not R for Republican


Washington D.C.: It was a GREAT weekend for our Redskins! The ovations given to Darrell Green and especially to Art Monk gave me goosebumps. The win yesterday put a nice bow on the whole package. Now, they can get down to the most important task...assessing the talent for this upcoming season.


Jason La Canfora: Couldn't have said it better.


Columbia, Md.: Jasno,

Last night Madden was saying that it was a Seattle passing game with a Redskins running game because Buges is still on the sidelines. Is this true?

Also, how's Mike Sellars doing this year? You haven't mentioned him once.

Jason La Canfora: Sherman Smith loves the power stuff, and, remember, Holmgren would routinely run Shaun Alexander 375 times a season with a ton of inside plays. So it's a hyrbid of styles, and Buges being there means they won't ever entirely get away from 40-Gap and the counter stuff, sure.


Kensington: Did you find it odd that Monk and Green did not thank Gibbs more in their acceptance speeches, especially given the close spiritual relationship they all share?

Jason La Canfora: Green did mention him once, that I recall, and even then just in passing. It definitely stood out for me. Not sure what it means but I certainly noticed it.


Jason La Canfora: Well guys, gotta run. Thanks as always for all of the great questions, and sorry for those I did not get to. As always, you can find me on the blog - RedskinsInsider - or on email (

Hope you all have a great week.



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