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Vonnie Holliday hopes
FILE/Duane Burleson/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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BY RICH CAMPBELL
This was supposed to be the week that the Washington Redskins returned to team headquarters to begin coach Mike Shanahan's "voluntary" offseason program. Players who scattered across the country to their offseason homes for an 11-week hiatus were scheduled to get reacquainted with their teammates in Ashburn and begin a strength and conditioning regimen that would ready them for spring practices.
The Redskins Park weight room, however, is quiet these days.
Players aren't allowed in the building because NFL owners locked them out on March 11. Coaches and other team employees are not allowed to even contact players. They can only exchange pleasantries if they see players around town--but even that interaction must be recorded in a log.
So the Redskins sit in a holding pattern, unable to work toward improving on last season's 6-10 record.
Instead, many players are working out on their own while hoping a federal judge in Minnesota sends them back to work on April 6 by issuing an injunction against the lockout.
"The level of uncertainty is what's getting us all," said defensive lineman Vonnie Holliday, the Redskins' player representative to the now-decertified players' union. "I know all the guys have questions like, 'What kind of time are we talking about? Is it a month, two months?' The bottom line is we really don't know. We have the court dates that are set in stone, but other than that, that's about it."
Missing time in the offseason program is a blow to a team that lost six games by four points or less last season.
The Redskins had hoped the league and players' union would avoid a work stoppage by reaching a new collective bargaining agreement by the March 4 deadline. That would have allowed them to spend the spring honing the offensive and defensive schemes they spent the last 12 months learning the basics of.
But instead of talking pass routes and coverages, players are preparing for an extended stalemate. Some team leaders, such as special teams captain Lorenzo Alexander, have started formulating plans to get players together for practices in or near Ashburn but away from team headquarters.