The size of the crowd was smaller than the mass of humanity that awaited Coach Joe Gibbs during Fan Appreciation Day last year, but his message to those listening at Redskins Park was largely the same. Gibbs is entering his second season after ending a 12-year retirement, and although he offered no predications of how many games he thinks the Redskins (6-10 in 2004) will win this season, he is counting on the support of Washington's rabid fan base.
"I think we have the best fans in the world," Gibbs told the crowd. "All of us that coach and play for the Washington Redskins, we feel that. I think this football team is super important to you and super important to us."
Gibbs again praised his players for their work during offseaosn training and took questions from the crowd. Fans asked him about finally incorporating the shotgun formation, about the health of star offensive lineman Jon Jansen (he is 100 percent now) and others, and also inquired about the coach's health. Gibbs, 64, underwent a stent procedure in the offseason.
"I feel great, I feel great," Gibbs said to a crowd announced as numbering 7,325. "I know I may not look it, but I'm doing pretty good."
Redskins Expect a Tough Workout
The Redskins expect to be given a tough afternoon during the scrimmage with the Ravens in Baltimore today, and Gibbs has talked all week about the physicality of their opponent's defense. The teams will spend two hours on the field together, including seven-on-seven, nine-on-nine and 11-on-11 drills, with each offense running 40 plays.
The format was devised to simulate game conditions, and Gibbs said all of his quarterbacks will get work in the outing.
"It'll be the first full-go work," Gibbs said. "You get some kind of a feeling for an evaluation process, that's important. We'll look at some players more than others. When you're going up against a real physical group I think our 7-on-7 work will be really important I think it will be a real test for us."
With the scrimmage looming, the Redskins practiced only about 90 minutes in the stifling heat Friday and spent the final drills with the defense mimicking Baltimore's defense to get the offense prepared.
Injured Redskins Will Miss Scrimmage
A group of injured Redskins won't be participating in Saturday's scrimmage, including linebacker LaVar Arrington, cornerback Carlos Rogers, defensive tackle Brandon Noble, defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin, cornerback Walt Harris, cornerback Artrell Hawkins and defensive back Eric Joyce. . . .
First-round pick Jason Campbell's contract was structured so that he could begin making sizeable incentives based on becoming a starter in 2006, according to a source who has reviewed the contract. Campbell will begin cashing in playing time bonuses should he take 60 percent or more of Washington's snaps in that season, and those incentives continue through the remainder of his five-year deal. The incentive-laden contract can be worth between $5.3 and $25 million based on how much, and how well, Campbell plays. . . .
Punter Tom Tupa dealt with serious scares to his wife and himself last season, Gibbs revealed Friday, but all have been resolved. Gibbs excused Tupa from offseason training on several occasions to deal with the matter -- the team is not disclosing specifics of the condition -- but said the player and his wife are in fine now and looking forward to the season. Tupa began last season exceptionally but tailed off a bit, something Gibbs believes is natural given the duress he was under away from the game.
"It's hard to concentrate when you've got all that going on family-wise," Gibbs said. "It was great today, because we got to see his family. His kids and his wife was here, it's great to see her. Hopefully, Tom is going to have a great year for us."
Punter Andy Groom, an unsigned free agent out of Ohio State, is also on the roster. . . .
Owner Daniel Snyder was on vacation at the start of training camp but returned later in the week and spent a portion of Friday's practice chatting on the sideline with Rogers, the team's first pick in April's draft.
Quote of the Day:
"I know we don't have any Dallas people here. They're the ugliest people in the world."
-- Coach Joe Gibbs, in jest, to questions about the Cowboys during his address to the fans.