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After months of planning, dreaming, discussion, a tree controversy, groundbreaking, rapid building, and several ceremonies, the promise was fulfilled.
The Washington Redskins have finally taken the practice field at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center. The NFL has arrived in Central Virginia, and thousands poured in to welcome them.
Just over 10,000 fans wildly cheered RGIII and company on opening day Thursday. Nearly the same number watched their practices on Friday, and over 15,000 visited the Center on Saturday. The players and coaches appreciated the welcome.
“I don’t think it could have been better,” head coach Mike Shanahan said after the first-ever full practice in Richmond. “It’s a great facility. Everything that we need to do we have right here. I think you can see with the support the players really enjoyed the fans.”
Shanahan’s praise extended to their hotel, the Omni Richmond, explaining how first-class facilities positively affect the work attempting to be accomplished.
“It gives you a chance to come in here and have an excellent camp,” Shanahan noted.
When the Redskins hit the field, fans cheer for their favorite players. Stars like wide receivers Pierre Garcon and Santana Moss, running back Alfred Morris, and linebacker London Fletcher get attention, but nothing compares to the eruption heard when quarterback Robert Griffin III, and his famous knee brace, enters into public view.
Griffin, coming off a knee injury and surgery just seven months ago, has participated in camp from day one, answering the biggest off-season question for Washington: when would their star signal caller be ready for practice, much less game action? RGIII will not see any time on the field during preseason “unless it’s a necessity,” and is very optimistic about starting in the season opener versus the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football Sept. 9.
“I try to take as many mental reps as I possibly can,” Griffin noted. “I’ll be ready to go. I’ll be sharp and I know that they know that I’m not going to let myself not be ready to go, not be sharp out there on the field.”
His running ability and athletic prowess aside, Griffin throws a mean spiral. He’s joined by back tight end Fred Davis as well as Garcon, both back from injuries of their own in 2012. Add in veteran receivers Devery Henderson and Donte Stallworth, and Griffin looks to have one of the NFL’s most promising receiving corps.
Injuries are an issue that loom over every NFL team. While the rival Eagles deal with the loss of wide receiver Jeremy Maclin for the 2013 season with a torn ACL in his right knee in practice Saturday, the Redskins, so far, have avoided the major injury bug.
When nose tackle Chris Baker was carted off the field Saturday, collective breaths were held. It turned out he had cramps, a problem solved with IV treatment. The Redskins can ill afford another blow to their defensive line, with defensive ends Adam Carriker out for the season after having his second quad surgery in a year, and Jarvis Jenkins suspended for the first four games of the season after violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
Cornerback DeAngelo Hall (Virginia Tech) twisted his ankle on Monday and entered the facility Tuesday in a walking boot. There is no ligament damage, but with any ankle problem, it could take days, or a few weeks, to heal. Hall will likely miss several days of practice.
It’s a sad reality, but any player is one play away from the injured reserve list. That is why the Redskins entered training camp with 90 players on the roster, all fighting for 53 open positions, all wanting to fulfill a dream of starting a season in late July in Richmond and ending it hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. at Super Bowl XLVIII.
NOTES: Fan Appreciation Day will be Saturday, Aug. 3 at noon. Fans are encouraged to come into Richmond early, as the Redskins estimate some 25,000 people will attend, easily the largest anticipated crowd of training camp. For the latest Redskins news during training camp, visit our blog at hpredskins.blogspot.com.