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Admittedly, life in Richmond for the Washington Redskins, save one suspension and usual injuries, was pretty jolly. Throngs watched their every move in practice, cheering them on like it was Super Bowl Sunday, all the while enjoying a brand new state-of-the-art facility.
They even found an unexpected comeback hero in their preseason opener. Pat White, less than impressive as fourth-string quarterback in practice drills, led the Redskins to the winning touchdown and two-point conversion with 2:23 left to beat Tennessee 22-21. His extension of the two-point play until a receiver, Emmanuel Ogbuehi, got open for the winning catch, was nothing like what Richmonders had seen from the West Virginia graduate in person.
Saturday meant time for the team to get back to practice. Then, mother nature took over, smothering the Redskins better than any NFC East defense.
Ten minutes before practice time, the intense thunderstorm that knocked trees and power lines down along the I-295 corridor from Glen Allen to Mechanicsville grazed the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center just enough to create torrential downpours. The intense lightning that proceeded the rain sent thousands scrambling at the last second looking for protection. With some fans parking and walking from a half-mile or more away, some fans didn’t find safety before the storm found them.
With Sunday an off day, the Redskins found themselves without an established practice in Richmond in five days. Saturday, head coach Mike Shanahan said the rainout wouldn’t affect their practice routine. The schedule, though, was altered.
A walkthrough was added to Tuesday, pushing practice back to mid-afternoon.
It turned out to be one of the more news-worthy days of training camp.
Rookie safety Phillip Thomas was diagnosed with a torn Lisfranc ligament in his foot and is out for the season. He was the team’s third strong safety according to the latest depth chart, so players such as sixth-round draft pick Bacarri Rambo, DeJon Gomes and Jordan Pugh now have an unexpected chance to better their possible roster positions.
Meanwhile, on the field, the pressure of the waning days of training camp in Richmond took its toll on two players, as cornerback Chase Minnifield (UVA) and wide receiver Aldrick Robinson went at it during drills. Both are on the cusp of making, or missing the final 53-man roster. Robinson, in particular, faces an uphill battle to make the team, with veteran wide receivers Donte Stallworth and Devery Henderson in camp along with returning vets Pierre Garcon and Santana Moss.
Before the sun set on Leigh Street Tuesday, the media were surprised to be greeted by quarterback Robert Griffin III. Griffin’s last scheduled media appearance was Monday morning. But at that time, RGIII expressed some frustration at how his recovery process was going, leading pundits to believe there may be some rift between the star quarterback and his head coach, Shanahan.
Even though Griffin tweeted out later Monday that all was well, RGIII walked into the press room to further clarify.
“I just want everybody to know if there’s any questions about if there’s a rift between me and coach or if there’s a conflict, there is no conflict. Coach has a plan, and I’m abiding by that plan,” he said.
Shanahan followed RGIII’s impromptu moment at the podium with his scheduled daily conference and commented on the situation.
“It’s always tough when you have a great competitor like Robert. I think you can see his body language, he wants to be out there,” Shanahan opined. “We have a plan for Robert…hopefully we can get ready for the first time, that there’s no setback where we can do that.”
Redskins fans should remember that their current coach once coached a man named John Elway. His name was brought up by Shanahan in the press conference, noting the two of them used to have “knock down drag out fights all the time,” due to their intense competitive natures. They won two Super Bowls together.
That fact alone should ease fears in Redskins Nation and get them back to focusing on a healthy RGIII and, with that, a deeper playoff run in 2013.
NOTES: Friday is the final practice day in Richmond. The time has been pushed back one hour to 10:35 a.m. For daily updates on the Redskins in Richmond, remember to visit our blog at hpredskins.blogspot.com.