Safety Sean Taylor, who drew the ire of some teammates for boycotting the Redskins' offseason program and then getting arrested for felony assault in Miami, said he received a warm welcome in the locker room during the first full day of training camp, and is not focusing on his legal problems. Taylor is scheduled to go to trail Sept. 12 -- the case is likely to be moved back until after the season -- and will have to earn his way back into the starting lineup: He played with the third string defense this morning.
"I'm glad to be back," Taylor said after the morning practice at Redskins Park. "I'm glad my teammates were so welcoming I'm glad to be back around here. I'm glad to be putting effort back into this organization with these guys and that's it. For the fans who are thinking I don't like to be up here in Washington, it's not that. It's just that when I have my offseason time, there's places you go. When I have my season and things that's lined up, that's where I'm at."
Taylor, who weighed in at 232 pounds and reported in excellent shape, said he skipped the workouts because they were not mandatory and offered no guarantees that he would take part in next year's offseason program -- "Next year, we'll see about next year," he said -- and also said that he is not worried about going to jail (if convicted of a felony gun charge he would face a mandatory minimum sentence of three years in Florida). "That's why we got judges, we've got trials," Taylor said, "and we've got people who make decisions [about] what goes on in court. I'm not worried about anything. That's something for them to handle and I've got to worry about this [playing football] right now."
While Taylor said he had no "regrets" about how he chose to spend his offseason, he conceded that he missed out on an important process. "I see these guys have bonded," Taylor said, "and have worked really hard on what they're doing, and it shows how much work they put into the offseason Everybody seems in unity and together."
Taylor, the fifth overall pick in the 2004 draft, rose to a starter after two games last season and flashed game-breaking ability. Yesterday, he was in the third pairing of safeties, although it might not be long before he is back with Matt Bowen in the top grouping ("Sean is a rare athlete," Bowen said). "I don't mind working [up the depth chart]," Taylor said. "Me working is nothing; that's what I do, I work."
Campbell Signing Still Possible
Negotiations with first-round draft picks Carlos Rogers and Jason Campbell continued through the morning practice, but neither was on the field for the afternoon session. The Redskins made significant progress with Campbell's agent Sunday and he is close to a deal.
Talks with Rogers are not as far along, and the cornerback is also injured and would be unable to participate in a full practice anyway. While a prolonged absence is not expected, it could be a few more days before a deal is completed.
Portis Happy With Changes
Running back Clinton Portis left little doubt about how happy he is that the Redskins changed their blocking schemes in the offseason. Portis is coming off the least productive season of his career when he struggled to break off long runs and get in the end zone, and yearned for the transition from a power-running approach to one based more on speed and agility. "We tried to be a power team and bully over people," Portis said, "and with our line we had athletic linemen who aren't necessarily just bull-over type of guys I think the scheme we have now is more suited to them Last year we really didn't use our talent the way we should."
Portis offered this portrayal of the passing game, which ranked 30th last season and frustrated top receivers Laveranues Coles and Rod Gardner, who were both traded away. "You have Laveranues Coles, probably one of the fastest guys in the league, and we didn't run a lot of go-routes last year. We had Rod Gardner, spectacular of making plays that you don't think he'll make and we really didn't have a big passing game. You have myself at 205 [pounds], trying to be [Ravens running back] Jamal Lewis [who weighs 245]. So I think now our scheme suits our offense."
Thrash Misses Opening Day of Camp
Receiver James Thrash, one of the most dedicated players on the roster, missed the opening of camp because of the death of his father. Gibbs said the team was notified Sunday night and Thrash was excused from camp for as long as necessary. . . . Linebacker LaVar Arrington (knee) and defensive tackle Brandon Noble (knee) were the only players unable to participate in the morning practice. Gibbs has said both will be ready for the start of the regular season, but when they will be able to practice has not been determined. Arrington, who underwent two surgeries on his right knee, was on the sidelines during many drills and shadowed the other linebackers from behind the play during some snaps, working on his lateral movement. Noble is recovering from a serious infection but was walking well and encouraging his teammates.