WASHINGTON — This topic comes up every Redskins offseason as OTAs begin, and yet, year after year, it never fails to get under fans’ skin.
DeSean Jackson, each of the past two OTA periods, chose to work out on his own and skip voluntary workouts, but now that he’s departed for Tampa Bay, he’s no longer the flavor of the week. This year, fans have turned their ire toward running back Matt Jones, even though fellow Redskins veterans Trent Williams and Jordan Reed are also absent from Redskins Park.
As JP Finlay of CSN Mid-Atlantic accurately observes, each player’s situation, about why he chose to skip voluntary workouts, is unique. Williams is working out in Oklahoma; Reed, coming off a shoulder injury, is in Miami; while Jones’ situation — having been told by Jay Gruden he is now the fifth-string running back — is quite different.
Redskins defensive lineman A.J. Francis took to Twitter Friday to dispel some of the mysticism surrounding OTA holdouts.
Francis took Grant Paulsen up on his offer by calling into 106.7 The Fan to better explain his point of view.
“At the end of the day, the only positions that really can actually work things that get them better for the season, and how football’s actually played for them, while not wearing pads, is quarterbacks, kickers, punters and long-snappers,” Francis said. “Other than that, if you don’t have pads on, you’re not playing the real game.”
“If you’re a receiver, you don’t have to get off fresh, and you don’t have to work on catching the ball through contact,” he said.
“If you’re an O-lineman or a D-lineman, you can’t come out of your stance the way you usually do, you can’t work the way you usually do, because if you did, somebody’s gonna end up getting hurt,” he said. “You can’t put the same type of physicality, that you need to put in in the game, in the offseason during OTAs.”
“And, let’s not forget,” he added. “You say, ‘Well, it’s only not mandatory because it’s in the CBA.’ Well, the CBA is a binding contract, so that’s kind of a big deal that it’s in there that they don’t have to be there.”
Francis also noted that the majority of people who have a problem with players skipping OTAs aren’t the players; fans take issue with it, he says, while the players themselves don’t mind their teammates missing voluntary workouts.
“To be honest, you guys say, ‘Well, if 98 percent of your players are there, you should be there too,’ but the 98 percent of guys don’t care that they’re not there,” Francis said. “Like, we’re completely fine with the fact that they’re not there; it’s people outside that want them to be there, that think they should be there, they have to be there.”
“If a guy like Trent Williams decides he doesn’t think he needs to come to OTAs, I feel like he’s done enough in his career to earn that right,” he said. “Now, if you want to say that maybe I should be at OTAs, you’re absolutely right. And even years when I was on the Dolphins and I knew I was going to be on the team the next year, I still went to OTAs because that’s just what I do. I’ve never missed a single OTA day in my career.”
“But, at the same exact time,” he said, “I’ve never begrudged anyone, or thought that anyone else should be there, because I’m there.”