NFC East: Andre Carter

Catching up with: Andre Carter

February, 27, 2014
Andre Carter has a simple routine these days: Wake up, help his son do homework, work out and "do whatever my wife tells me." No, he's not retired but he's not far away from it either. Carter spent five seasons in Washington, arriving as a prized free-agent defensive end. He exited after one year as an ill-fitted outside linebacker in a 3-4. In between he recorded 34 sacks, with 10.5 (and four forced fumbles) coming in 2007, which also happened to be a playoff year for Washington. Other than that season, Carter experienced a lot of losing.

Here's what Carter had to say on:

[+] EnlargeAndre Carter
Bob Donnan/USA TODAY SportsAndre Carter, a 13-year veteran, isn't ready to hang up his cleats just yet.
Whether he’d like to play again: I would still like to play. I haven’t officially retired. There’s still that one goal, which is to win Super Bowls. I know I’m not a younger pup, even though I still play like one. I’m realistic how the league moves over; everyone is going younger. My main goal and objective this offseason is to stay in shape, just because I love staying in shape. It gives me something to do. At the same time I have to shift my mind to the future and life after football and continue to make that transition. It’s a healthy balance.

Crossing that line from player to retirement: It’s not hard to cross that line. I talked to one of my former teammates, Bryant Young, after the season and he said what are you going to do? I said if someone wants me to play, I play. He said that’s good if you still have that fire, then by all means go ahead. Guys have said they know when they’re done because they said, ‘I had nothing left in the tank. My body is beat up. I don’t have the patience to keep the offseason training.’ I’m not there yet. I still feel as far as my durability and the knowledge of the game and the love of playing is still there. That’s something I’ll take to heart and know that in the end if a team does want me I’ll be ready.

Life after football: I have been talking to a lot of people I have a relationship with in TV and radio as far as commentating. It’s something I’m constantly working on, the craft of learning how to speak and be engaging, the mechanics of opening your mouth and analyzing the game. One of the good resources I have is [NFL Network’s] Mike Silver and my old high school coach is Tim Ryan. Those two are such a big part of my life. I connected with Tim when the Chargers played the Colts and I saw how he and his colleagues worked on the radio side [for Westwood One]. It was good to see. I wondered can I do this as a career and I was like I know I can. It’s a matter of do you want to do play-by-play or color or the pregame show. So many avenues.

Classes he’s taken to prepare: I’m working with a voice speed coach to try and understand annunciations, little things you may take for granted but are very important if you’re going into TV or radio, to project your voice and make sure you sound clear. I have a low voice so when I look at interviews I cringe because I understand what I’m saying, but does the audience understand what I’m saying? That’s why I’m doing technique exercises and drills, reading out loud. The reps help.

Why he wants to do this: To stay connected to the game. Your foot is still in the door, you’re still having fun, you’re still around the guys. It’s not the locker room, but it’s still fun. So why not? I would love to coach. But coaching is a lot of hours. It’s a big commitment. That’s something I’ll look at down the road once my son [now 6] graduates. Until then I’ll enjoy my family.

The best part about playing in Washington: I enjoyed just meeting the guys that came back, the old-school players. You name it, they were there and that just showed these guys really care about the tradition and really cared about continuing the legacy, that Redskins pride. That’s important. It brings a lot of camaraderie and a sense of pride about yourself. We were not only representing ourselves, but those guys that made the Redskins name.

The toughest part about playing in Washington: For as much talent as we had, it was disappointing when we were unsuccessful. Being with New England gives you a different perspective, especially this year. We had a lot of major injuries and a lot of key guys out. We could have turned it in early. But Bill kept us humble and hungry. He took guys not as talented as the other players who were out, but they worked their butts off. When a group of men believes in one another and you do your job, that’s what we did. We did our job. There’s no secret pill or drink we took. We just focused and tried to outexecute our opponents. If we had taken that mentality [in Washington] and used it to our advantage, who knows what we could have done? Live and learn from experience.

The difference in organizations: One thing the [Patriots] do so well is they evaluate themselves from a coaching standpoint and in evaluating players. But when I got there in 2011, one coach was here had worked there 10 years. Another had been there 12 years. Another guy learning to be an offensive line coach had been there for three or four years. The staff was such a tight-knit group and they worked together. It’s tough when you don’t have consistency in coaches. The philosophy and style changes. The play-calling changes. The scheme changes. It’s like starting over. That’s one of the toughest things from a team standpoint to go through. With the Patriots, you knew who we had and who they could trust and when you have that consistency it makes things so much easier.

Inside Michael Vick's moment in time

August, 24, 2011
We have an occasional feature here called "Inside a Moment in Time" -- a very cool graphic feature that shows a picture from a big game or moment and allows you to click on every player in the picture to get that player's thoughts on what was going through his mind at that moment in time.

Why do I bring this up? Well, we have done one on Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick and the huge game he had against the Washington Redskins on that Monday night last year that we all surely remember well. The link is here, and if you have time I recommend clicking through to hear and read the thoughts of everyone in the photo of Vick running into the end zone for a touchdown in that game. That includes Vick and Eagles offensive linemen Jason Peters, Todd Herremans and Nick Cole, as well as Redskins defensive players DeAngelo Hall, Lorenzo Alexander, Rocky McIntosh and Andre Carter, all of whom were very good sports about the thing.

It was a fun project to work on and, I think, a fun feature to check out if you have a few minutes.

Chat wrap: Nnamdi fit for Eagles?

June, 29, 2011
Our weekly chat was affected but not eliminated by the technical issues that plagued our site Tuesday. We still managed an hour of questions and answers, and some of them came out all right. Here are some highlights.

Mike from Statesboro, Ga. wondered if signing free-agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha would hurt the Eagles' chances of effectively addressing their other defensive needs, including defensive end: "Basically, do you think the Birds are putting all their eggs into Nnamdi's basket?"

Dan Graziano: "No, but I think they would do better to sign Nnamdi and get a second-line guy for defensive end than to sign the best DE and get a second-line CB. For instance, if you can get Nnamdi and, say, Andre Carter, isn't that better than spending a bunch of money on Jason Babin and having to settle for a cornerback who's not as good as Nnamdi?"

Dan from Harrisburg, Pa. asked if I really believe "Dan Snyder would give Shanahan a whole year to toy around with Grossman and unproven Beck knowing the draft could be good next year or are they actually planning on going after somebody like Hasselbeck?"

DG: "This comes up a lot. I think, if the Redskins don't see a better long-term option than Beck right now, it makes sense to see what he can do knowing there are going to be better long-term options available in next year's draft. Now, some people say that means "tanking" the season for a good draft pick. That's not what I'm advocating, nor is it what I think the Redskins will do. But why commit resources (and maybe years) to Hasselbeck when you know you need a long-term answer and might need those resources to secure it in 2012?"

Ricky Ross from Scottsdale, Ariz. wanted to know if the Cowboys might bring in David Akers to push David Buehler for the kicker job, since he doesn't think Kris Brown is the answer either.

DG: "I think they brought in Brown to push Buehler, motivate him to be better. If that doesn't work, you may be right that they look for a better upgrade than Brown."

Ryne from Peekskill, NY wondered whether recent Giants draft picks Linval Joseph and Marvin Austin, both defensive tackles, will be "rocks in the middle or high round busts?"

DG: "It takes time to develop at that position in the NFL, so it's far too early to know. But I'll say that those guys are in a great position, playing as they do for a team that provides a good environment for growth and development of defensive linemen."

Thanks to all who hung with us through the technical difficulties. We'll be back next week and, as Mike & Mike say, better than ever.
Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson examines the linebackers of each NFC East team. Today: Washington Redskins.

The Redskins moved to a 3-4 scheme last season, but London Fletcher wasn’t fazed by the scheme change and just kept up his steady pace. He is a true professional and one of the most consistent linebackers of this generation. The Redskins could lose Rocky McIntosh in free agency. McIntosh started next to Fletcher on the inside, and a change of scenery and scheme could do him well, as I think he fits a 4-3 front better than Washington’s 3-4.

On the outside, Brian Orakpo again showed why he can become one of the better pass-rushers in the league, but he wasn’t the same player during the second half of the season. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention the problems that Orakpo had versus the run this year. There was little to get excited about opposite Orakpo, and adding another outside linebacker who can get after the quarterback might free Orakpo up to really wreak some havoc. This is a major need.

For the second time in his career, Andre Carter showed that he is not a fit in an odd front. He could be playing elsewhere next season, and for the most part, was replaced by Lorenzo Alexander. A liability as a pass-rusher and in coverage, Alexander is best suited as a backup on the outside and as a core special-teamer rather than in a starting role.

Others worth mentioning are Perry Riley and H.B. Blades on the inside and Chris Wilson and Rob Jackson on the outside. The undersized Blades is an extremely poor-man’s version of Fletcher and had a solid 2009 campaign. Wilson is a pretty good special-teams player and shows promise as a pass-rusher. Jackson could get a chance at more snaps going forward.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for

NFC East links: Vick to sign tender

March, 2, 2011
Dallas Cowboys's Calvin Watkins takes a look at one of the deepest position groups in the upcoming draft: the defensive line.

The team signed linebacker Isaiah Greenhouse to its reserve/future list Tuesday.

The Cowboys offered tenders to four players Tuesday: Defensive ends Stephen Bowen and Jason Hatcher, safety Alan Ball, and left tackle Doug Free. Watkins weighs in on what it all means.

New York Giants

Ahmad Bradshaw, Barry Cofield, Kevin Boss, Steve Smith and Dave Tollefson received second-round tenders from the Giants Tuesday. Mathias Kiwanuka reportedly received a first-round qualifying offer.

Center Shaun O'Hara said he wouldn't want the NFL's owners and the NFLPA to reach an agreement on a new CBA this week because "that would be a bad deal for us."

Philadelphia Eagles

Michael Vick will sign his franchise tender from the Eagles on Wednesday, which will be worth more than $16 million next season.

Brandon Graham said at least two of his Eagles teammates have asked him for substantial loans to get through the lockout.

Washington Redskins

The Redskins have released linebacker Andre Carter and guard Derrick Dockery.

The team appears prepared to bring back Albert Haynesworth for another season.

Cost-cutting options for the Redskins

December, 22, 2010
Former Washington Redskins salary cap specialist J.I. Halsell has analyzed the club's roster and come up with a list of players who could possibly be released or traded this offseason. Halsell also notes that Washington will be saving some money by demoting Donovan McNabb to third-string for the last two games:

"What is absolutely certain is that if McNabb is listed as the team's third quarterback for the final two games of the season, he will lose $31,250 for each of those games, because his contract contains a per-game roster bonus provision that is contingent upon him being on the 45-man active roster," writes Halsell.

Just think of all the wonderful moves the Skins can make if they're able to squirrel away an extra $62,500. It's the type of fiscally responsible decision that we can all celebrate during this blessed holiday season. Here's a look at the list Halsell provided in his blog item for the Washington Post. (The amounts are what the Redskins could save on a possible salary cap).

RB Clinton Portis: -$5,645,500

LB London Fletcher: -$4,900,000

QB Donovan McNabb: -$4,750,000

CB DeAngelo Hall: -$4,400,000

DT Albert Haynesworth: -$3,400,000

C Casey Rabach: -$3,000,000

NT Ma'ake Kemoeatu: -$2,500,000

OG Derrick Dockery: -$1,565,000

DE Adam Carriker: -$1,420,000

OG Artis Hicks: -$1,400,000

DE Phillip Daniels: -$1,250,000

DE Vonnie Holliday: -$1,250,000

TE Fred Davis: -$555,000

DE Andre Carter: $2,909,998

McNabb makes himself at home in Philly

October, 3, 2010
Donovan McNabbAP Photo/Matt SlocumRedskins QB Donovan McNabb entered his old stadium to a standing ovation and left with a win.
PHILADELPHIA -- Next time you find yourself trying to identify the best team in the NFC East, look for something else to do. We tried to close the books on the Washington Redskins after their embarrassing loss in St. Louis last weekend, but they walked into Donovan McNabb's old stadium Sunday and physically punished the Eagles in a 17-12 win that put them in a tie for first place with the Eagles and Giants at 2-2.

Eagles fans charted a new course in giving McNabb a standing ovation as he was introduced before the game. Then they quickly remembered how to boo him as he led the Redskins to scores on each of their first three possessions. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan gave McNabb something he rarely had during his 11 years with the Eagles: a power running game that produced 169 yards on 35 carries. With Mike Anderson unavailable, Shanahan turned to someone named Ryan Torain.

Washington stunned the Eagles' defense early in the first quarter when Torain made road kill out of safety Quintin Mikell on his way to a 12-yard touchdown. On the ensuing kickoff, Redskins outside linebacker Lorenzo Alexander caused a collective gasp at the Linc when he decked Jorrick Calvin after his ill-advised decision to bring the ball out of the end zone. The Redskins were by far the most physical team on the field and they took the crowd out of the game from the start.

When Eagles quarterback Michael Vick was knocked out of the game with rib and chest injuries after a brilliant 23-yard scramble late in the first quarter, the Redskins were able to change their approach. He'd never admit it publicly, but Shanahan basically shut down his passing game in the second half and put the game in his defense's hands.

"I think you have to game plan so different for when Vick is in the game plan because he can throw it any time or flick it to someone," said Alexander, who replaced Andre Carter as the starter at outside linebacker Sunday. "When [Kevin] Kolb is in the game, he is more of a pocket kind of quarterback and does not get out there and run around as much."

It's hard to imagine a better homecoming for McNabb. He pounded his chest and raised his right hand to show his appreciation to the crowd as it gave him a standing ovation during the pregame introduction. And after the Redskins held on for the win, Shanahan flipped him the game ball in the locker room. The FOX cameras captured his postgame speech, which came at the prompting of his new teammates.

"But I just want to say, definitely, this right here defines team," said McNabb. "And this is something we can feed off of going into the rest of the season. We are No. 1 in the NFC East, and we are gonna stay up there. Everybody makes mistakes in [their] lifetime, and they made one last year! So ... thank you."

McNabb would later tell reporters it was important for him to show his teammates in practice last week that he wouldn't allow his homecoming to become a distraction. He expressed his appreciation for the way fans embraced him Sunday and said he understands they needed to boo him the rest of the game.

"I think all of the quarterbacks got booed today," McNabb quipped.

Everyone talked about Vick's speed coming into this game, but it was McNabb who turned back the clock with an 18-yard scramble on third-and-4 that allowed the Eagles to milk the clock late in the fourth quarter. McNabb had five carries for 39 yards.

McNabb's friend and former head coach Andy Reid has long been criticized for his game management, but he stooped to new levels late in the first half. Trailing 17-3, Eagles running back LeSean McCoy carried the ball to the Skins' 1-yard line. After a lengthy booth review to see whether McCoy had crossed the plane, the ball was marked at the 1-yard line. Reid called a timeout to discuss what to do on fourth down. After the timeout, the Eagles had trouble getting a play in and had to take a delay-of-game penalty. A short field goal by David Akers made it 17-6, but Redskins players raced off the field pumping their fists. Even after hearing the following explanation from Reid, I'm still somewhat baffled by what occurred.

"I had all of the time [during the review] to go over exactly what we wanted done, and then the position of the ball wasn't good," said Reid after the game. "I can't question the officials or anybody else, and I'm not going to do that. I just know that where [the ball] originally was and where it ended up being were two different spots. Again, that's my responsibility. I'm not here to complain about the officials or anybody else. I goofed."

And something tells me "I goofed" could eventually end up in a local headline. I'm always amazed that a man who's so revered by his peers in the profession can appear so clueless at critical moments. A touchdown would've given the Eagles a huge lift heading into the locker room.

Two Eagles starters who were on the field at the time told me the official moved the ball from the "1-foot line" to the 1-yard line, thus foiling a quarterback sneak call. And the play clock started before most of the players realized what had happened.

I'm sure some folks will insist that Vick would've pulled this game out in the second half, but I'm not convinced. The arrival of Kolb isn't what caused left guard Todd Herremans to get called for holding as Albert Haynesworth raced past him. Same goes for Eagles left tackle Jason Peters against Redskins Pro Bowl outside linebacker Brian Orakpo.

"We were very confident this week," Orakpo told me after the game. "We heard all that stuff about us being last in the league in D, but this is a brand new defense. We'll be fine."

Redskins' 3-4 still a work in progress

October, 3, 2010
We knew the Washington Redskins entered this season with a lack of offensive weapons. But it seemed logical that new defensive coordinator Jim Haslett could build on what's been a pretty solid unit.

So far, the Redskins' defense has gone backward, ranking among the worst in the league. Washington Post NFL columnist Mark Maske says this morning that a difficult transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 scheme should have been expected. He spoke to former coaches and general managers who've presided over similar transitions. Something former Redskins general manager Charley Casserly told Maske might surprise some Skins fans.
"All of [the Redskins players] were playing better and contributing more in the 4-3 than they are now," he said. "The carryover two years from now might be only one guy in the front seven, and that's [Brian] Orakpo."

And really, it's not far-fetched to suggest the Redskins could have wholesale changes as early as next season. I was covering the Dallas Cowboys in '05 when Bill Parcells decided to transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4. The decision was made easier by the fact DeMarcus Ware projected as an excellent outside linebacker in a 3-4.

Linebackers Dexter Coakley and Dat Nguyen had been highly productive in Mike Zimmer's 4-3 defense, but they weren't big enough to take on massive guards and centers in the 3-4. Coakley was soon released and Nguyen's career ended abruptly because of a neck injury.

I think the Redskins will begin replacing players such as London Fletcher and Andre Carter sooner rather than later. They've been reliable starters for Washington, but a 3-4 isn't a great fit for either player. I understand that coaches have to stay true to what's made them successful, but it seems like Haslett might have been better served to keep a lot of the 4-3 concepts until he could bring in reinforcements.

Maybe it's a cheap second-guess. Or maybe the Skins should've seen this coming.

Redskins strip Cowboys of dignity

September, 13, 2010
Alex BarronAP Photo/Rob CarrAlex Barron's holding penalty on the final play of the game nullified a last-second touchdown.
LANDOVER, Md. -- In the back corner of the Washington Redskins' locker room late Sunday night, a dry-erase board told part of the story. Someone had left three words for the defensive backs to remember as they took the field against the Dallas Cowboys: "Tackle and Strip."

And with the help of one of the most bone-headed play calls since Barry Switzer called "Load Left" against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Redskins' defense made its first signature play of the Mike Shanahan era in a heart-stopping 13-7 win over the Cowboys. New defensive coordinator Jim Haslett spent all of organized team activities and training camp placing emphasis on stripping the ball. He taped footballs to blocking dummies so that players could practice swiping at the ball as they made tackles.

And with 4 seconds left in the first half, opportunity came knocking in the form of Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett temporarily losing his mind. Trailing 3-0, the prudent thing would've been for the Cowboys to take a knee and limp to the locker room. Instead, they lined up at their 36-yard line with three receivers to one side and Tony Romo delivered one of his patented shovel passes to running back Tashard Choice.

As Choice fought for extra yards for no reason, Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall reached in and pulled desperately at the ball. When outside linebacker Andre Carter arrived to finish things off, the ball squirted free and Hall took it to the house for a 32-yard touchdown that he punctuated with a front somersault. Who needs Donovan McNabb when you have Garrett calling plays on the opposite sideline?

"I still have to see it on film, but the guys told me I came in there and pushed the ball out," said Carter. "We've been practicing that day in and day out. We do it in every team period and then we get together and talk about it afterwards."

This is a Redskins team that lost all six of its division games last season, so players lingered in the locker room and relived the game-deciding plays. Shanahan credited a raucous crowd of more than 90,000 for causing Cowboys penalties, although I'm not sure if right tackle Alex Barron can use that excuse.

[+] EnlargeDeAngelo Hall
AP Photo/Evan VucciDeAngelo Hall's fumble recovery for a touchdown gave the Redskins a 10-0 lead going into halftime.
At halftime, Haslett had the good sense to move Pro Bowl outside linebacker Brian Orakpo to Barron's side. On the game's final play, Barron left nothing to chance as he reached from behind and hooked Orakpo with his arm. Haslett has told his players that drawing holding calls is just as good as a sack, and Orakpo took that to heart. He acknowledged that the Redskins wanted to take advantage of Marc Colombo's absence at right tackle.

"That's called game planning," said the former University of Texas star. "We knew Colombo wasn't in there and we had to exploit their weakness. I was freestyling out there on him because I knew we were in good shape with that matchup."

Orakpo had to leave the game briefly with cramps in the second half, but he raced back onto the field after missing a few plays. And even when Barron grabbed his jersey, Orakpo kept chasing Romo.

"I looked back and saw that yellow flag and knew it was game, set, match," said Orakpo. "Romo tried to tell me earlier in the game that those weren't holds, but I didn't hear from him after that last play."

Shanahan said he didn't even bother to watch Roy Williams catch the ball in the end zone. He saw the hold immediately and knew the game was over.

"I saw it when Tony started scrambling," he said. "I saw it right away. I didn't even take a look at the play. I thought we had a lot of pressure during the four-man rush, and even in that situation, you've got to find a way to get plays."

Outside linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said that Shanahan was all business after his first victory with the Redskins.

"Everything about him said, 'Been there, done that,'" said Alexander. "He's ready to move on to next week."

Beastlines: Defending Marion Barber

August, 12, 2010
Let's take a quick spin around the division this morning. For those of you who like to monitor my daily schedule, the Beast will be attending Cowboys-Raiders this evening. Thanks for your continued support:


Camp Confidential: Washington Redskins

August, 10, 2010
PM ET NFL Power Ranking (pre-camp): 20

ASHBURN, Va. -- It’s 7:15 on a Friday evening at Redskins Park and coach Mike Shanahan has taken a short break from watching film of the morning's practice. The man who always appears to be five minutes removed from a tanning session is discussing a philosophy that’s served him well over the years, but came into question when he was fired in Denver after 14 seasons and two Super Bowl titles.

Now Shanahan and his hand-picked quarterback, Donovan McNabb, want to prove that both of their previous employers made a mistake. We’re talking about two of the most prideful men in the league, and in two separate conversations with the NFC East blog last Friday, they essentially said the same thing.

“Yeah, both of us are here to win a Super Bowl,” Shanahan said. “If you’re not in it to win a Super Bowl, then you need to find something else to do. I’m not ever going to comment on how things were done here before, but we had a philosophy that worked in Denver, and that’s what we’re going to follow.”

It’s worth noting that two years ago, players were hailing the unorthodox approach of Jim Zorn. He played music during practice and delivered lectures on designer jeans. He was sort of the lovable hippie -- right up until the team started losing. In ’09, the Redskins became the most dysfunctional organization in professional sports. Zorn couldn’t be shamed into resigning, so the Redskins simply stripped him of his dignity (and play-calling duties).

Dan Snyder hired Bruce Allen and Shanahan because he has lost so much credibility with Skins fans. Allen and Shanahan immediately began changing the culture at Redskins Park. This was a team crying out for some form of discipline, and Shanahan has delivered in spades. If a player doesn’t hustle between drills in practice, Shanahan will call their names after practice and tell them to run extra sprints. He also makes sure that every player keeps his shirttail in during those sessions. Shanahan can get away with this because of those two rings.

With one hire, the Redskins are once again relevant in the NFC East. Now, let’s take a closer look at their chances of making the playoffs:


[+] EnlargeDonovan McNabb
Win McNamee/Getty ImagesQuarterback Donovan McNabb is working on building a rapport with his new group of receivers.
1. Can Donovan McNabb elevate this pedestrian group of receivers to new heights? There’s a reason that Santana Moss seems to have a perpetual smile on his face these days. He didn’t even have time to complete routes last season because of the Redskins’ woeful offensive line. Now, coaches are showing him film of the Texans’ Andre Johnson and saying he could do similar things. McNabb invited Moss and the rest of the receivers to work out with him in Phoenix early last month, and you can already see the benefits on the playing field.

“I told them to bring their wives and girlfriends because I wanted it to be a family affair,” McNabb told me. “When you’re around the facility, you always feel like you’re being watched. I thought it was a great opportunity for us to bond away from everyone else and start developing some chemistry.”

But Moss is the only thing close to a sure thing. We're still waiting for former second-round draft picks Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly to show some consistency. For now, they're listed on Shanahan's depth chart as third-stringers. McNabb may have to rely on the 38-year-old Joey Galloway to play a significant role in the offense. The good news for Skins fans is that McNabb once took receivers such as Freddie Mitchell and Todd Pinkston to NFC title games on a regular basis.

2. When will Albert Haynesworth crack the starting lineup? Shanahan bristled when I asked him if Haynesworth was causing a "circus," but the coach must realize that the defensive lineman has dominated the headlines. I think the players were watching closely to see how Shanahan dealt with the brooding star. Now that he's finally passed the infamous conditioning test, Haynesworth will work as a backup defensive tackle. He'll eventually start at right defensive end, but it's not going to happen overnight.

Haynesworth could be a huge part of Jim Haslett's defense if he buys into what the coach is doing. I am eager to see whether this knee issue goes away in the preseason. Haynesworth needs more game repetitions than usual because of all the time he missed. If the knee prevents him from getting on the field, it will become another distraction.

[+] EnlargeTrent Williams
Jeff Fishbein/Icon SMIRookie tackle Trent Williams has drawn rave reviews from coaches and teammates.
3. Have the Redskins solved their issues on the offensive line? I think a lot of this season hinges on whether three new additions to the line play well. Jammal Brown was a Pro Bowl player for the Saints at one point, but he hasn't played since '08. He'll have to knock off some rust while learning how to play right tackle. Rookie Trent Williams has a ton of ability, but he's working with a much thicker playbook now. There were questions about his work ethic at the University of Oklahoma. So far, he's said and done all the right things in Washington.

And we'll see how Artis Hicks performs at right guard. I always thought he was a better option than Mike Williams (out for the year), but this unit needs a lot of work in the preseason. McNabb will bring a lot to this team, but he can't win a lot of games if he's constantly on his back. Ask Jason Campbell about that.


I was thoroughly impressed with free safety Kareem Moore. He was a sixth-round pick in '08 who didn't make much of an impact in his first two seasons. Now, it looks like he'll lock down a starting spot. He's had an excellent camp. He plays with a lot of confidence and he'll allow LaRon Landry to play closer to the line of scrimmage.


You knew that one of the veteran running backs would probably be out of the mix, but I didn't expect it to happen so early in the proceedings. Willie Parker is officially listed at the Skins' fourth-string running back. Hard to imagine him making the final roster unless there are injuries.

[+] EnlargeJohnson
Jeff Fishbein/Icon SMIAfter recording 581 yards last season, Larry Johnson is turning in a solid camp in Washington.

  • I talked to one longtime Redskins observer who actually thinks Larry Johnson will have more carries than Clinton Portis this season. I don't see that happening unless Portis suffers an injury, but it's obvious that Johnson's in excellent shape. He's finishing off every run and he actually has shown a burst at times.
  • Lorenzo Alexander and Andre Carter have a nice little battle going on at left outside linebacker. Alexander has been running a lot with the first team, but Carter, 31, will get plenty of playing time. You knew Carter would have a little trouble in coverage, but he's actually been step for step with running backs on a couple of occasions.
  • Haslett is the best thing that could've happened to Carlos Rogers' career. The cornerback thought his career in Washington was over, but now Haslett believes he can turn him into an Antoine Winfield-type player. Haslett will take advantage of Rogers' size and he'll let him blitz more than in the past. (Adam Schefter has more on Haslett.)
  • Brian Orakpo told me after practice Friday that Haslett's playbook has at least 20 more blitzes than Greg Blache's old version. He said it was a little overwhelming at first, but now he's not thinking as much. Orakpo had a nice rookie season, but he's about to become a breakout star. It's pretty amazing to have this many elite pass-rushers in the same division.
  • Kedric Golston and Adam Carriker were running with the first-team defense Friday. It looked like the Redskins were working on their dime package, which features two down linemen. I think Haslett will be very creative with his fronts. He'll have some of the same concepts that we've seen from Dick LeBeau and the Steelers.
  • Cornerback Justin Tryon made a nice recovery on a fly pattern to Roydell Williams on Friday. But Tryon hasn't done a lot in this camp to move up the depth chart. I think he's behind Kevin Barnes and maybe even Ramzee Robinson at this point.
  • If you need a "Rudy" type of player to root for, let me point you in the direction of former Kansas State receiver Brandon Banks. At 5-foot-7, Banks isn't exactly a red zone target, but he's quick and appears to have good hands.
  • John Beck rolled right and fired a bullet to tight end Lee Vickers in team drills. Former TCU linebacker Robert Henson reacted with some loud expletives because he came close to breaking up the pass. Beck had too many balls batted down when he was with the Dolphins. His arm angle's been too low in the pros, so we'll see if Kyle Shanahan can fix that problem.

The Observation Deck: Redskins style

August, 6, 2010
ASHBURN, Va. -- If Albert Haynesworth ever qualifies to participate in one of Mike Shanahan's practices, I actually think he'd enjoy himself. Shanahan asks his players to pour everything they have into morning sessions before hosting jog-throughs in the afternoons. And judging from his red-faced appearance at today's news conference, the head coach is about ready for this episode to end.

The MRI on Albert Haynesworth's knee came back negative, and the Washington Post's Jason Reid reported Friday morning that the defensive lineman's tearing it up on the treadmill. So why can this man not make it through two 300-yard shuttle runs that were easily handled by ESPN's Mike Golic? Your guess is as good as mine. One reporter excitedly noted that Haynesworth had appeared to increase his work in individual drills Friday.

"He's been doing the same thing," snapped Shanahan. "He's been getting a few reps and individual work -- the same thing he's been doing."

When I sit down with Shanahan this evening, I'm not going to lead with Haynesworth. I'm going to ask the coach to compare this Redskins team to some of his Broncos teams. And I'm curious to pick his brain about why he thought Donovan McNabb was the perfect fit for the Redskins. The guy's not known for his accuracy, and that's something Shanahan values. Now let's take a look at what caught my eye in practice Friday morning:
  • I talked to one longtime Redskins reporter who actually thinks Larry Johnson will have more carries than Clinton Portis this season. I don't see that happening unless Portis suffers an injury, but it's obvious that Johnson's feeling really good early in camp. He's finishing off every run and he's actually shown a burst at times. He also appears to be really comfortable with his new surroundings. On the other hand, it's hard to imagine Willie Parker making this roster. He's not getting many reps and it just doesn't look like Shanahan's giving him much of a chance. Ryan Torrain is receiving more carries than Parker from what I can tell.
  • Mike Shanahan doesn't miss a beat during practice. During drills, he'll stand away from everyone and just study different things. He also takes mental notes of which players don't hustle between drills and calls out their names at the end of practice. Those players are forced to run extra sprints. As one local beat reporter put it, "The adults are in charge again." I liked Jim Zorn, but he probably gave his players too much latitude.
  • Lorenzo Alexander and Andre Carter have a nice little battle going on at left outside linebacker. Alexander has been running with the first team, but Carter, 31, will get plenty of playing time. You knew Carter would have a little trouble in coverage, but he's actually been step for step with running backs on a couple of occasions. No matter who wins the starting role, the other guy will receive plenty of playing time. By the way, Carter told me after practice that he thinks David Diehl's the best left tackle he's faced in the Beast.
  • Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett is the best thing that could've happened to Carlos Rogers' career. The cornerback thought his career in Washington was over, but now Haslett believes he can turn him into an Antoine Winfield-type player. Haslett will take advantage of Rogers' size and he'll send him on a lot more blitzes.
  • Brian Orakpo told me after practice that Haslett's playbook has at least 20 more blitzes than Greg Blache's version. He said it was a little overwhelming at first, but now he's not thinking as much.
  • Kedric Golston and Adam Carriker were running with the first-team defense Friday. It looked like the Redskins were working on their dime package, which features two down linemen. If Haynesworth passes the conditioning test in the next month or so, he'll likely see a lot of time at right defensive end.
  • Torrain could end up serving as the third-down back, but he can't drop a perfect swing pass as he did Friday.
  • When former Cowboys receiver Joey Galloway broke free on a deep ball, Haslett just about lost it. "How many [expletive] times do we have to do this?" he shoutd in the general direction of safety LaRon Landry. By the way, Landry has a very difficult time not destroying receivers across the middle -- even when players are in shorts. In Friday's morning session, Landry pulled up at the last possible moment when Chris Cooley caught a McNabb pass across the middle. It looks like one of Cooley's brothers (Taylor?) was conducting some interviews for the tight end's blog after practice. They were focusing on Santana Moss.
  • Cornerback Justin Tryon made a nice recovery on a fly pattern to Roydell Williams. At this moment, Moss and Galloway are your starting wide receivers. I think it's the weakest part of this team, but Moss tried to convince me otherwise during a 20-minute visit following practice.
  • If you need a Rudy type player to root for, let me point you in the direction of former Kansas State receiver Brandon Banks. At 5-foot-7, Banks isn't exactly a red-zone target. But he's quick and appears to have good hands. I'm interested to see if he can make some plays in the preseason. I'd love to see the little fella get some reps returning punts. He's not very sturdy, though. He caught a short pass Friday and then a shove from cornerback Kevin Barnes almost sent him into a crowd of corporate folks. I think a stiff wind might have the same effect on young Banks.
  • John Beck rolled right and fired a bullet to tight end Lee Vickers in team drills. Former TCU linebacker Robert Henson reacted with some loud expletives because he came close to breaking up the pass. Perhaps Henson realizes that Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin will do something similar to his Frogs in Week 3. Beck botched a handoff to Portis in Friday's practice. He didn't last with the Dolphins because of a side-arm motion that led to a lot of balls being deflected. If Dolphins quarterbacks coach David Lee can't fix a problem, then I'm skeptical of the quarterback having much of a future in the league. Lee has worked with Tony Romo, Chad Henne and Tim Tebow (Senior Bowl).
  • Haslett is trying to change the mentality of this defense. You'll hear the word "strip" over and over again in practice. Haslett wants one defender to strip the ball and another to come over the top and go for the scoop. There's an emphasis on takeaways in almost every drill.
  • Shanahan thinks that Jammal Brown and Malcolm Kelly will return to practice Monday, but he's not certain about that. I get the feeling that the Redskins are starting to lose patience with Kelly, who is nursing a tight hamstring. Late in Friday's practice, the receiver would've broken away from the peloton had he not been on a stationary bike. It's not like the guy has a bad attitude or anything. McNabb and Moss have both taken a special interest in the former Oklahoma star, but he has a hard time staying on the field.
  • Grapevine, Texas, native Richard Bartel continues to throw the ball well in practice. Everyone's focused on Beck since he arrived, but Bartel's the backup who seems to take advantage of every rep.
  • Brian Orakpo said he had some lofty personal goals for this season, but he's not willing to go on the record at this point. He spent much of our conversation talking about the Big 12 finding a way to stay together. With Nebraska defecting to the Big 10, Orakpo says this year's game between his Texas Longhorns and Adam Carriker's Cornhuskers will carry added significance. "I'm still trying to recover from when they almost beat us," said Orakpo, referring to the Big 12 title game.
  • Safety Kareem Moore is having an excellent training camp and it will be tough to keep him off the field. The Redskins have actually developed some nice depth at safety. But on that topic, I'm not sure what's happened to Chris Horton. Two years ago, he took the league by storm when injuries forced him onto the field. Now, he's barely getting any reps in practice.
  • I thought left tackle Trent Williams looked pretty quick in team drills. He tweaked his hip a little bit in practice, but Shanahan thinks he'll be fine.

Numbers support Haynesworth

May, 28, 2010
As most of you know, I've never let empirical data stand in the way of dismissing a player. I watched Washington Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth several times last season, and quite frankly, wasn't all that impressed. His apologists pointed to the fact that Brian Orakpo and Andre Carter put up large sack totals in '09.

They say that Haynesworth's very presence allowed his teammates to make plays. I agree with some of that, but too many times the defensive tackle was staggering to the sideline in the fourth quarter of games. But just when you thought everyone had turned on Haynesworth, KC Joyner, aka the Football Scientist, launched a defense of the player based on numerical data from his summer charting adventure. Joyner writes for ESPN Insider, but I received permission (not really) to share some of his thoughts with you:
"In the two seasons prior to signing with Washington, Haynesworth posted point of attack (POA) win totals of 32.3 percent (2007) and 23.8 percent (2008)," writes Joyner. "Those totals are the baseline against which Haynesworth's 2009 run-stuffing performance should be gauged.

"Let's check out his POA numbers from last season. He had 81 POA attempts and 27 POA wins. That equates to a 33.3 percent POA win rate, or a total that was actually higher than both his 2007 and 2008 figures."

But wait: there's some additional information that Joyner sent over Thursday evening. This didn't make it into the column, but we've deemed it worthy of the Beast.
"There is one overwhelming compelling reason [Haynesworth] should be kept as an under tackle -- he is nigh near unblockable in a one-on-one situation," writes Joyner. "To illustrate this, consider that he was single team blocked 49 times and won 22 of those blocks, or a single team win rate of 44.9 percent. That by far is the highest single team POA win rate I have seen thus far (the double team blocking review is my summer tape watching project). To put it in perspective, consider that it ranks higher than Casey Hampton (17.1%), Vince Wilfork (29.6%) and Kris Jenkins (44.4%). Teams simply cannot leave Haynesworth in a one-on-one situation if they want to run the ball his way."

So there you have it. Mike Shanahan should be begging for Haynesworth to return to Redskins Park. But something tells me the only number Shanahan's interested in is one, which is the number of days Haynesworth has spent with his new coaching staff this offseason.

Friday Beastlines: Raises in Big D

May, 21, 2010
Dallas Cowboys

Which Cowboys players deserve a raise? Todd Archer drops a few names.

Running back Felix Jones isn't getting caught up in the debate about who will be the starter.

New York Giants

The demolition of old Giants Stadium has commenced.

Osi Umenyiora writes in his blog that he thinks LeBron James should re-sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers instead of taking the free-agent route to New York.

Philadelphia Eagles

A.Q. Shipley is trying to learn all he can practicing at center during offseason workouts.

Eagles rookie quarterback Joey Elliott is adjusting to the speed of the pro game.

Washington Redskins

Linebacker Andre Carter says he is "really comfortable" with the Redskins' new 3-4 scheme.

Donovan McNabb is hoping to earn a contract extension so he can finish his career in Washington.

Are Redskins ready for the 3-4?

May, 14, 2010
Each Wednesday, the good folks from Scouts Inc. take a look at some of the most compelling stories of the offseason. This week, Jeremy Green analyzed the Washington Redskins' transition to a 3-4 defensive scheme. Become an Insider today and you can read the entire story. But in case you're not prepared to make that commitment, here's an excerpt from Green's story:

"Outside linebackers Brian Orakpo and Andre Carter both can play standing up. They are explosive players in their first few steps off the line and can get after the quarterback. This defense should give leading tackler London Fletcher a lot more room to roam. This defense is designed to create a lot of pressure off the edges and that will take pressure off the back end of the defense."

I agree that Orakpo will flourish as an outside linebacker but I'm not convinced about Carter and Fletcher. Last week, I talked to Fletcher about making the transition. He's not going to be covered up as much in a 3-4, so I'm not sure how he'll have "a lot more room to roam."