Coach Joe Gibbs gave the Washington Redskins a welcome surprise Wednesday night when he allowed the players to check out of their dorms and return home. The team is no longer staying at the National Conference Center, ending that formal part of training camp. Gibbs emphasized to the players that camp itself is ongoing, and he plans to work them hard for the rest of the month, but does not plan to continue two-a-day sessions after this week.
"I didn't have an original plan," Gibbs said between laughs when asked about his decision to release the players from the cycle of bus rides from the dorms and curfews. "I go by how I feel. I just felt like it was the right time so I let them go [Wednesday] night. Now we're still in camp, technically, through next week, I told them, but we let them move out and get going and get all the administrative stuff they need to get handled on housing and all of that stuff so that we're in advance of the regular season."
Yesterday's sessions -- in the morning and late afternoon -- may have been the final multiple practice day for the team. Gibbs often has praised his players' effort and attitude, although the execution, particularly by the offense, has suffered. Washington has stumbled through its first two preseason games, and the lack of passing or running consistency has caused concern for the coaches.
Saturday's game in Miami is a significant test for the team, Gibbs said, and he wants to eliminate turnovers and elementary mistakes. Letting the players leave their dorms had more to do with motivating them than as a reward for the overall performances in the preseason.
"I don't think we're close," Gibbs said. "I think there are a lot of things we need to improve upon. What you're looking for is a step up. I felt like last week [Saturday's loss to Carolina] we backed up and turned the ball over and things like that. We were going in the wrong direction."
Tackle Chris Samuels returned to practice yesterday after missing two practices with a mild concussion, but linebacker LaVar Arrington remained out with a first-degree sprain to his left knee and will not travel with the team to Miami, according to Bubba Tyer, the team's director of sports medicine.
Tyer expects Arrington to be back on the field for Monday's practice, and the rest over the weekend is a precaution. The team is not scheduled to practice today before flying to Miami, so yesterday was the last opportunity for players with minor injuries to gauge their ability to play under such conditions.
"It's day-to-day; as the days go, so shall I," Arrington said. "It's preseason. I don't want to risk making it worse than it is."
The other players not traveling with the team are linebacker Mike Barrow (tendinitis in left knee), tight end Fred Baxter (knee), cornerback Rashad Bauman (hamstring), linebacker Chris Clemons (hamstring), wide receiver Cliff Russell (hamstring) and running back Ladell Betts (hamstring). Wide receiver Darnerien McCants (ankle) will be reevaluated today by the medical staff and could still join the team for the trip to Miami.
Rufus Brown Impresses
Gregg Williams, assistant head coach-defense, mentioned cornerback Rufus Brown, an undrafted rookie out of Florida State, as someone who has caught his eye.
Injuries had prevented Brown from practicing, but he was back on the field for both sessions yesterday. . . .
Nose tackle Brandon Noble continues to wear a large cast on his broken right hand. Tyer said the club-like gadget can be shortened next week, making it a little easier for Noble to utilize his arm. . . .
Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Reed Johnson visited Redskins Park yesterday morning to watch his favorite team practice.
Johnson flew into Baltimore with his team Wednesday night after playing in Boston, lined up a rental car for the drive to Ashburn and left his hotel around 7 a.m. along with fellow fan Brian Butterfield, the third base coach.
"I wasn't going to miss a chance to come to camp," said Johnson, who grew up in California but inherited a love for the Redskins from his father.