Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
In my official role as the Redskins whisperer, I'm often allowed to line up (brief) phone interviews for the blog. You guys asked for second-year wide receiver Devin Thomas, so that's who we delivered. And on Wednesday, he answered a few of your (thoughtful) questions.
Now it's time to unveil what else Thomas told me during our rollicking visit that touched on fascinating topics such as his Google searches (for himself) and his day trips through Shenandoah Valley. For those of you interested in football, we also touched on Thomas' disappointing rookie season. OK, let's get to it. Please enjoy Thomas' fireside chat with the Beast:
[Always start with a softball] MM: So how are OTAs going?
DT: Pretty good. [Jason] Campbell and I hooked up for a touchdown on a double move today, so that was a nice feeling.
MM: Who did you burn?
DT: A young guy [safety Michael] Grant. We got him on the double move, but he still ended up making some plays.
DT: It's huge being able to go up against some of the top competitors in the league at that position. And they give me instant feedback. They'll tell me what tendencies they're picking up on and how I can do certain things better. All three of them -- Fred [Smoot], D-Hall and Carlos -- have the same abilities, so there are some good battles to be had.
MM: What did you make of Jason Campbell's offseason?
DT: I pretty much talked to him through the entire thing. And we just kept working hard together. When things got boiling [with the pursuit of Jay Cutler], I sent him a text to let him know I was with him. He's a self-motivator, and his mind he was still the Redskins quarterback. That wasn't changing unless they were going to ship him off -- and it never happened. People have been playing my abilities, too. Jason and I will have the same little grudge this season. We'll have a little chip on our shoulder, so we'll want to showcase what we've been working on.
MM: Why did you seem to have a tough time making the adjustment from college to this level? You and Malcolm Kelly both seemed to have some issues in training camp.
DT: It was just trying to get comfortable in the daily situations. I showed up in pretty good shape, but you really have to take care of your body. I had to learn the hard way to balance my speed in practice because I went out and pulled a hamstring early on. I can stay out there longer because I'm smarter about how I prepare. I'm a speed guy, so I was basically trying to fly around people all the time in practice. Santana [Moss] has helped me learn how to balance my speed a lot better. He also talked to me about setting up defensive backs. I can be looking inside with my eyes and suddenly explode outside. In college, you could sort of run past everyone. It's different here.
MM: Which player or players have you learned the most from?
DT: Really there's three guys with Santana, [Antwaan] Randle El and James Thrash. I grew up watching Santana, so I really appreciated his insight. He was watching me struggle early on and he kept saying, 'I've been there. Trust me, it's gonna get better.' He's like a big brother to me."
MM: Is there a former or current receiver that you tried to emulate through high school and college?
DT: Andre Rison is definitely that guy for me. I followed his career and he was one of those tough, physical players. I got to know him when I was at Michigan State and he was like a big brother-type to me. He enhanced my game by giving me tidbits that were a great help.
MM: How did you handle all the criticism that came your way last season? Did you try to avoid reading or listening to it?
DT: No, I follow everything pretty closely. I just sort of had a smirk on my face when I heard all that stuff. I took it with a grain of salt.
MM: What do you think of the offseason moves you guys made?
DT: It was pretty exciting to hear about. [Albert] Haynesworth and guys like Renaldo Wynn and [Brian] Orakpo give us a lot more firepower. And we added some depth on the O-line. I think we're doing things the right way. People look at our record last year and assume we're not that great, but we certainly don't think like that. The familiarity with people around here is really going to serve us well.
MM: Where will you guys finish in the division?
DT: We play in a really tough division and we went 8-8 last season, so you see where it's coming from. But in my eyes, I feel we're No. 1 in the division. That's how you have to approach things.
MM: Which NFL team did you root for growing up?
DT: Detroit was my home team, but I always had my favorite players around the league that I followed. Deion Sanders was the man. I watched him with San Fran and the Cowboys. I just loved the way he played. I also loved Charles Woodson.
MM: Being from Michigan State, did you get to know Plaxico Burress at all?
DT: He would come back and talk to us at the Michigan State-Michigan game. We have a small relationship. He invited me to join him and several former players at the Final Four in Detroit. I decided to get a flight on a Monday of the championship game and I barely made it to the airport in time. But I was checking in and realized I'd left my wallet and ID in the car. I was heartbroken when I had to tell Plaxico I wouldn't make it.
MM: What do you do to get away from football?
DT: There are some beautiful places in Virginia, so I just take a drive to see all the scenery. I can drive an hour and a half [to Shenandoah Valley] and see the sun setting over the hills and valleys. When the sun hits the rocks just right, it's a pretty amazing sight.
MM: Do you take dates out there?
DT: No, it's pretty much a sol
MM: You've said you spend some time on the Internet. What are your favorite sites other than the NFC Beast?
MM: Who do you like in the NBA Finals?
DT: I have to go with the Lakers. I went to school with [backup guard] Shannon Brown and I used to watch him in the gym. His jumping ability is amazing.
MM: Let's do this again, Devin.
DT: Sounds good
MM: Is tomorrow good for you?
DT: [Silence] ... click