RICHMOND, Va. – The intensity increased Monday, along with the number of shoves and near scrapes. It’s exactly what the players wanted. It also might be a long time before it happens again, at least during practice.
Once a staple of training camps, the days of live hitting have diminished in the new age of the NFL thanks to the 2011 CBA when teams are limited to one practice a day in camp and one walk-through rather than two-a-days.
And Redskins coach Jay Gruden said this might be the last time the Redskins do live-tackling drills until next season. They’ll practice against the New England Patriots next week and then will get their live-tackling drills, in essence, done in the preseason games.
But, for now, it served as a good change of pace and as something different than under previous coach Mike Shanahan. He opted for the old San Francisco way under Bill Walsh where full contact was not welcomed.
Regardless, the players enjoyed it, perhaps helped by knowing they had Tuesday off. They ran a one-on-one drill with a ball-carrier and a defender stationed 10-15 yards away. They had a live tackling session featuring the backups against one another. There were several near scuffles thanks to the extra contact. Once, linebacker Adam Hayward yelled at fullback Stephen Campbell after the latter drove someone to the ground in a return drill.
“We don’t do that [expletive],” Hayward said as receiver DeSean Jackson shouted back at him.
“The intensity level is picking up,” tight end Niles Paul said. “Things got intense today. That’s the type of thing we want to have, an aggressive team that doesn’t back down.”
“So much fun,” fullback Darrel Young said. “Man, you got the defense that says they make plays. But we got pads on, make the tackle. Everything got competitive today. That’s what you like in your team. I had fun out there. Guys tackling, guys hitting. That’s football. That’s what we needed."
After last season the Redskins had entered training camp with that so-called chip on their shoulder. Apparently they spent Monday trying to knock it off one another. A team coming off a 3-13 season needs to play that way more often.
“Yeah, you play with a chip on your shoulder,” defensive end Chris Baker said. “We know how quickly things can go bad when you don’t take care of the small things. We’re trying to take care of the small things in practice. ... A couple of fights broke out, but that’s what happens when it’s live competition.”