On Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, at 12:55 p.m., I will be ready to run through a brick wall. That is when football will be back. That is when the off-season debate and speculation will be replaced by the sweet sound of pads popping. Justice will be delivered between the lines, not in newspapers and courtrooms.
Story lines to watch in training camp? Expert projections? How many “complimentary” sandwiches Peter King can shove into his pockets at your team’s facility? Nope, I don’t really care about any of those things. We don’t get to decide story lines. Headlines write themselves when the season starts and, last I checked, ESPN projected us to win four games in 2012 and eleven games in 2013, but who’s counting?
As much as we like to pretend to be excited about the pre-season, these next 20 days in Richmond, Virginia are largely ceremonial. Sure, everyone in the league needs the conditioning and these are formative days for building team chemistry but I don’t buy into the hype that championships are won in August. Maybe in the 70’s when guys were biting each other, sleeping in bunk beds and pounding Bud heavies in their dorms every night, but not in modern football.
After the 2011 CBA went into effect, training camp became another reason for your dad to tell you how much of a sissy every generation after his has become.
“I tell you son, men used to practice nine hours a day without water. Hell, we didn’t wear cups until ’78. Back then Ronnie Lott played with one hand bitten off and Jack Lambert once choked a guy to death on the field. Yes son, those were the GLORY DAYS!”
As enjoyable as it would be to see Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson do Oklahoma drills to decide who will get more targets, I am perfectly happy with them working on their timing and studying film for the next three weeks. These guys are high-performing professionals; they know what they need to do to get ready. Concussions and ACL tears don’t happen in film rooms.
If you came here looking for projections and story lines I am sorry to disappoint you. There are plenty of well-paid writers who can tell you how pretty and special your team is over on Redskins-funded websites. What will the boys in burgundy and gold show us this pre-season? I won’t pretend to know. All I know is that I am pumped that football is almost back. The best sport in the world is almost within reach and not a moment too soon for Skins fans. We have endured a seemingly endless off-season that we are finally about to bury.
I have no crackpot theories or projections but I will share with you my five wishes for the 2014 Redskins Training Camp.
1. No significant injuries. Simple and straightforward wish but also the reason I will be nervously hitting refresh on Brian McNally’s Twitter feed (@bmcnally14) for the next three weeks. Can we just tag Jason Hatcher as ‘Questionable’ for the next 22 weeks and call it a day?
2. The return of RGIII the human, not the brand. A return to peak physical health is great but I am more relieved that our quarterback will finally be too busy to film commercials and documentaries. A little more humility, a little less ruining Twitter and TV for your fans. Was there anything worse last year than getting shellacked by 30 whilst watching a smiling RGIII try to sell you Adidas during commercial breaks?
Win football games and you will be a god in this town Robert. You don’t have to shove your Subway $5 foot longs down our throats and wash it down with a Gatorade #BibleVerse.
3. Some semblance of a hierarchy emerging in the secondary. They all can’t be jokes. Welcome to Amerson Island.
4. Leadership on the defensive side of the ball. As a team, we will go no further than RGIII leads us. If you are still clamoring for Kirk Cousins, you are a moron. Our defense will have no excuses this year. Offensive struggles aside, we couldn’t make a tackle or cover anyone last year. That can’t happen this year. It starts with a leader. Someone has to step up and hold this half of the team accountable.
5. Gruden face. I admit, I will miss adjusting the contrast on my television each week saying, “Mike Shanahan can’t really look like that can he?” From Oompa Loompa orange, to burgundy, to green at times, Shanahan’s skin was a litmus test for how crappy our team could get. The soft but stern, child-like face of Jay Gruden is a welcome change. Long live Gruden face!
What are you wishing for this training camp? Please feel free to contribute below or chirp me on Twitter.
We are six weeks away from meaningful football, folks. If I had a fast forward button I would gladly use it. If I don’t seem excited enough for you today please talk to me on game day Sept. 7; I’ll be the guy chewing on glass and laughing maniacally.
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