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Redskins training camp
LaRon Landry, Redskins did not wear knee pads at camp.
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By RICH CAMPBELL
BY RICH CAMPBELL
ASHBURN--The loud honk of an air horn is one of the most abrasive noises out there. It sounded pretty sweet, however, to 78 Washington Redskins players when director of football operations Paul Kelly blew it yesterday at 10:21 a.m. to signal the end of Mike Shanahan's first training camp as head coach here.
They huddled around Shanahan, some hollering and cheering. For the last three weeks, the Redskins have been consumed with team meetings and practices. They have worked to install a new offense and defense and finalize a final roster of 53 players.
And though that process will continue through the rest of the preseason, yesterday's conclusion of camp was an important milestone for this rebuilding franchise. They survived it in collective good health, and they emerged with a deeper sense of optimism that will carry them into the regular season next month.
"I thought we had some great effort," Shanahan said. "It starts with the offseason conditioning program. I think when you have a good offseason, you're hoping that you can limit some injuries. And if guys do get injured, they can come back a little quicker because they're in good shape. I think that has paid dividends, and hopefully we will be a little lucky through the preseason and stay away from some injuries."
Most importantly, the Redskins emerge from training camp as one of the healthiest teams in the league. Only one projected starter--nose tackle Albert Haynesworth--missed practice yesterday; he sat out with a headache, not anything believed to be serious.
Players credit Shanahan's approach, which was softer than past coaches here and others around the league.
Shanahan devised the guidelines after considering how counterproductive it was for him in the past to have players beat each other up. While some other teams around the league hit hard and often, the Redskins did not.
In 18 full practices they never wore football pants--Shanahan thinks they're pointless, considering many players don't wear thigh pads. And the second session of all of their two-a-days consisted of a walkthrough that included no pads and minimal contact.
That's why there were a lot of happy veterans yesterday at Redskins Park.