Joe Gibbs and the rest of the Washington Redskins coaching staff will depart for vacation Thursday, ending months of work in preparation for the 2004 season. Gibbs praised his players and staff yesterday during his final news conference before the start of training camp in July and said he is eager to get some time away from football before re-immersing himself.
"I'll be at the beach some, running all over," said Gibbs, who plans to spend considerable time with his family in North Carolina. "We'll get away. I think all the coaches are looking forward to it."
Redskins veterans completed a three-week cycle of voluntary practices last week and rookies will complete their training Thursday.
"We have a well-conditioned group," Gibbs said. "We don't have a bunch of fat guys where we have to worry a lot."
The coaches expect to return to Redskins Park about July 24 and a three-day passing camp, which involves most of the offense and defense, will begin July 26. Players will be off July 29, then report for training camp July 30 and begin two-a-day practices on July 31. Washington begins its five-game preseason schedule Aug. 9 against Denver in Canton, Ohio, in the Hall of Fame game.
"The players will be excited, we've got roughly a week before we're ready to play a game," Gibbs said. "The bad news is, we've got a week and we're ready to play a game. For the coaches it's not enough time for us, so we're going to be hot and heavy as soon as we get back."
Because of the Hall of Fame game, the Redskins will play one more exhibition game than most teams, something Gibbs said he could do without. "We didn't have a vote" on playing in Canton, Gibbs said. "If I would have voted I would have probably voted to not play it."
Gibbs said he and his coaches have spent considerable time studying the Redskins' opponents in the NFC East and those in the first half of the schedule, devising the nucleus of a game plan for these games.
"It's a big deal for us," Gibbs said. "Obviously, we've got our division opponents we take a real hard look at and try somehow to get some ideas there of what you think, and then I think you're looking at your first six or seven games and how they fit in there."
Redskins Notes: Gibbs said the team remains open to adding players but is not pursuing any trades or signings at this time, refuting reports of a potential deal with Miami for pass rusher Adewale Ogunleye. "We're not pursuing anybody," Gibbs said. League sources maintain Ogunleye has not been made available for a trade and the Dolphins have no intention of moving the un-signed restricted free agent at this time. . . . Gibbs warned about the perils of training camp holdouts, with Washington yet to sign its top three draft picks. Safety Sean Taylor, selected fifth overall, has yet to choose an agent. "For a guy to be shortsighted enough," Gibbs said, "or let an agent tell somebody we're going to hold out here and maybe throw away the first part of the year, it's going to affect him in the wallet and it's going to affect the team. . . . But there are just certain agent groups, they're going to hold them out and they think that's the way to go." . . . Gibbs said cornerback Walt Harris, a free agent signing, is the only injury concern for camp. Harris is recovering from a knee injury dating from last year.