(photo by Brian Murphy)
It could be argued that the two biggest focal points on the Washington Redskins roster this season are quarterback Jason Campbell and wide receiver Devin Thomas. After an offseason where management repeatedly tried to replace him, it goes without saying folks around town will be watching to see how Campbell responds.
As far as Thomas goes, well … after the ‘Skins traded out of the first round a season ago, Thomas became Washington’s de facto first rounder, and fair or not, fans expected more than 15 catches for 120 yards in his inaugural campaign.
We caught up with Thomas on day one of minicamp to see how he’s handling the criticism and to see what he’s got in store for ‘Skins fans for his sophomore season.
It’s only the first day of camp and some fans are already whispering that you look like you’ve bulked up since last season. What’s really going on?
“I’m just doing NFL workouts, man,” he said. “Instead of training for 40 times and stuff like that, I’m dedicating myself to just focusing on the field and building my strength in my arms, legs and everything. So far I feel like it’s paying off.”
What’s the biggest difference between last year’s minicamp and this year’s?
“I’m just really comfortable,” Thomas said. “I’m laid back and trying to enjoy everything. I know what’s expected, I’ve just got to perform. I’ve got to be precise in my technique and things I’m doing on the field. I’m trying to be more ‘on point’ with my routes. I slipped a couple times today and it was upsetting, you know, when you make mistakes, because you’re trying to be perfect in practice.”
Yeah, about that … we need to talk. You’re not even in pads yet and you and DeAngelo Hall got tangled up out there on a play and you were slow to get up. You’re making us nervous. This is day one of minicamp. How about you tone it done a little bit for now, big guy?
(Laughs). “I hear you, man,” he said. “I got D-Hall earlier on a deep ball in the first practice and we threw another one at him in the second practice and he contested it. I had a second chance to catch it and he basically dove through me to block it like we were in a game. We both hit the ground and I took the rougher end of it, but I’m alright.”
[Editor’s note: Maybe not. Thomas ended up missing the last two days of minicamp with a tweaked hamstring.]
We know you’ve heard the criticisms about you and Malcolm Kelly after your rookie season. How do you take it when you hear folks already rushing to judge you so quickly into your career?
“You know, I actually like it,” Thomas said. “It’s funny to me because I’m used to the criticism and people doubting what I can do or projecting me to not be able to emerge from this. I’ve been called a ‘one-year wonder’ and all that after college, but I just have to come out my second year and do what I’ve got to do. I’ve been dealing with this since I was little, so it’s nothing new to me. It takes a little bit for me to get going and to bust out, but that’s what people can expect from me this year.”
From where we’re sitting, this offense has a quarterback in Jason Campbell and a receiver named Devin Thomas who all eyes are focused on …
“Trust me, when we were both going through our offseason, we got together and talked about everything we were both going through,” he said. “Through our workouts and even one-on-one we built that same mindset together. I’m sure it’s going to carry over onto the field this season. He’s doing really good and he’s so focused that I know he’s just ready to burst out get the season started.”