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Redskins training camp report
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On the flip side, players recognize the void and their opportunity to fill it. For the young players in camp who aren't established in the NFL, it's clearly their best shot to make the 53-man roster.
"I knew that any team I landed on, all rookies would play special teams," said linebacker Robert Henson, Washington's sixth-round draft pick out of Texas Christian University. "My main focus is just staying in [Smith's] office, keep watching film and learning as much as I can."
Henson's special-teams play in college was a major reason the Redskins drafted him. He started only four games on defense during his first three seasons at TCU, but his special-teams contributions earned him honorable-mention all-Western Athletic Conference honors each year.
Henson, however, insists his experience doesn't give him any advantage. His fate and others' will be determined by their performance in the four preseason games.
"I think your ego kind of kicks in," Henson said. "You say, 'I'm going to be the first one down there and I'm going to make this play.' It's really just a confidence factor, just the will of a man, like Danny says all the time."
Henson was one of 54 players who participated in numerous special-teams drills on Saturday.
They sprinted downfield and practiced dodging blockers in pursuit of a return man. They worked on aligning to block for a kickoff returner, and they practiced different blocking techniques--all this while Smith's typical ceaseless chatter and energy amused anyone within earshot.
Afterward, Smith detailed the characteristics of his ideal job candidate. Whichever players possess them, no matter how obscure their names, could find themselves impacting wins and losses in the fall.
"The big thing is effort," Smith said. "If he'll give effort, my job is to coach him. And then I start looking for pad level. And do they take coaching? When I make a correction, do they have it right the next time? I get a lot more comfortable with people I know and trust.
"I think we have a good core and we'll fill [the void]. I feel good about that. Will I have that same trust to start? Probably not. I really trusted those guys. They're veterans, they're good at it, they like it, we were on the same page, so that's going to take time."
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