The Washington Redskins completed their last session of organized offseason practices yesterday, and the team's veterans will not return to Redskins Park until the start of training camp in late July. Coach Joe Gibbs had originally scheduled a final practice for today, then decided to let the players begin their vacations instead.
Gibbs has praised the level of participation of his players during three mini-camps and various voluntary training sessions -- most of which involved 90 minutes of on-field time per day -- and will spend a few days next week working with rookies and young players before the coaches depart on vacation.
The Redskins will hold a passing camp near the end of July and expect to begin two-a-day sessions at training camp on July 30.
"We let them go a day early," Gibbs said. "They worked real hard and we gave them a little carrot and tried to finish up today with a little realistic work and then we let them go. . . . I kind of sensed we were winding down the last couple of days and they were getting tired" of the voluntary offseason practices, known as organized team activities, in which players wear helmets but are prohibited under league rules from wearing pads.
"So when we come back we'll have pads on, hit people and go play games pretty quick. You could kind of tell they had about had it with this."
The Redskins' first preseason game is Aug. 9 against the Denver Broncos.
Players have raved about the degree of structure and instruction during the offseason workouts, and much of the team's playbook has already been installed, giving them a head start during training camp.
Gibbs pushed back the start of camp as far as possible to allow the players and coaches to recharge and said he expects to have a healthy complement of players available for the start of training camp.
Redskins Notes: The Redskins signed two free agent defensive linemen, Demetric Evans and Darrell Wright, after they completed seasons in NFL Europe.
Evans, 6 feet 3, 300 pounds, played two seasons with Dallas before heading to NFL Europe and was an undrafted free agent in 2001 after playing for the University of Georgia. Wright, 6-4, 285 pounds, signed with Dallas in 2003 as an undrafted player from Oregon and broke his hand in the Cowboys' training camp last summer, leaving him unable to play prior to the NFL Europe season. . . . Tight end Mikhael Ricks drew interest from the Redskins before being cut by Detroit this week, league sources said, with Washington inquiring about trade possibilities. However, Ricks's agent, William Vann McElroy, said he has not been contacted by the Redskins in more than a week and team officials indicated they will not pursue the free agent. . . . Safety Sean Taylor, the fifth overall pick in the draft, has yet to notify the NFL Players Association who his agent will be. Contract negotiations with Washington likely will not begin until mid-July. . . . The Redskins' Read Program kicked off yesterday when Fred Smoot and Rod Gardner read to first- and second-grade students from Meadowlands Elementary School in Ashburn.