RICHMOND — As the digits on the big, mobile clock ticked down to zero and Redskins director of football operations Paul Kelly blew his air horn three times to signal the end of Tuesday morning’s practice, the players let out a loud cheer and came together for a huddle.
“FREEDOOOOOOM!” a bunch of them yelled.
Twenty-one days after they reported to Richmond, the Redskins’ 2014 training camp had come to an end. Three preseason games, plenty of practices, player evaluations and position battles remain, but the breaking of camp, and the return to their homes and team headquarters in the Ashburn area brought a feeling of relief.
Left tackle Trent Williams said he couldn’t wait to get home for many reasons, but asked what he’d do first when he got there, he said, “Jump in my bed. I get tired of sleeping in that hotel bed. I just wanna feel my bed one time, quick.”
Cornerback DeAngelo Hall said he was looking forward to being able to drive his car instead of riding in shuttles from the hotel to practice and back every day. He also looked forward to a little less demanding schedule, and being able to plan days a little better.
But Williams said that his teammates – particularly the younger players – must quickly refocus.
The Redskins are off Wednesday, then get back to work on Thursday as they prepare for Monday night’s home game against Cleveland. Washington then plays at Baltimore five days later (Aug. 23), and then closes out the preseason at Tampa Bay on Aug. 28.
Although Coach Jay Gruden hasn’t determined how much starters will play Monday night at FedEx Field, he expects them to play more than they did in an opening 23-6 victory over the New England Patriots. The first-team offense played only one series and the first-team defense was on the field for two.
“All we’re going to do is focus on ourselves moving forward,” Gruden said. “It’ll be the first time we start to really game plan for an opponent, get [the players] used to game planning and how we’re going to do it; how we go about it during the regular season.
“We haven’t looked at Cleveland yet. I haven’t. I will starting [Wednesday] and Thursday. We’ll start to game plan.”
The first round of roster cuts – down from 90 to 75 – will take place Aug. 26 at 4 p.m. The final roster cuts – down to 53 players – must come by 4 p.m. Aug. 30.
“Just know that just because camp is over, it doesn’t mean this whole preseason is over,” Williams said. “You still have to compete for a position on the team. Just keep the goal at hand. You have come out and compete no matter if we’re in Richmond, in Ashburn or at FedEx Field. Just give it your all, every single play and try to be a part of this team.”
Jason Reid contributed to this report.