rookie hazing

(photo by Brian Murphy)

“Momma never told me there’d be days like this.

If you could guess what is on the mind of rookie wide receiver Devin Thomas, who suffered a hamstring injury Thursday and will be out for at least the next 10-14 days. If that’s not enough, this is also the week we were finally able to track him down and give him that long-awaited father-son type talk. Some of you may remember that Thomas won the 2008 Rookie Madden Bowl back in May, but that win was clearly tainted because of questionable tactics used by the Michigan State Spartan — namely using the Dallas Cowboys to win the video game tournament. On Wednesday, just 24 hours before he suffered the first setback of his professional career, we tracked him down and set him straight on the one simple rule to survive in this town.

Tell me about this Madden tournament we heard about, I said.

“Oh yeah, it’s a little competition they have for the rookies and I won,” said Thomas, full of confidence. “I handled it pretty well. I took out some guys that were pretty good, and I’ll tell you, it’s fun, man. If anybody wants to challenge me in that Madden they can come get it.”

He had no clue, but someone was in fact about to challenge him. I paused for a second and then asked, “What team did you use?”

“I was using the Redskins at first,” said Thomas, realizing where this interview was heading.

That’s not the rumor, was my reply.

“At first. I said at first,” he said. “Then I had to go ahead and sneak in the Dallas Cowboys.”

He was already using words like “sneak.” Clearly the kid knew he did wrong.

Did no one pull you aside and tell you there’s one team you’re not allowed to use? You know, the arch rival of the team that gives you a paycheck now.

“Uh … I mean … it was just a situation where I had to use the guys I used to play with, so I had to bring out someone I was comfortable with,” Thomas said, backpeddling as fast as he could.

We continued to chat while he signed autographs for fans after practice. Once the interview was over and the recorder was off, Thomas promised me that he knows better now and will refrain from sullying the Redskins good name by using a team that would have sent George Allen over the top (well, if he knew what video games were).

All in all, he’s a good kid and he seems to have a decent head on his shoulders. Let’s chalk this up to a momentary lapse in judgment and never speak of it again.


introducing "mcdreamy" taylor

(photo by Brian Murphy)

I guess I should mention the newest addition to the Washington Redskins. You guys may not know this, but #55 is not Dallas Sartz. It’s actually a defensive lineman named Jason Taylor, who men know from his distinguished football career and women drool over because he tap danced his way into their collective hearts on a reality TV show. Seriously, ask any woman nearby what she thinks of Jason Taylor and watch her melt in front of you. It’s absurd.

So yesterday at practice a group of ‘Skins fans were calling Taylor “J.T.” every time they saw him. That, my friends, is a no go at this station. Those initials — much like L.T. is reserved for Lawrence Taylor and LaDainian Tomlinson has to settle for LDT — are taken. As everyone knows, J.T. is Justin Timberlake. And it’s okay to admit you know it, fellas. He was awesome in Black Snake Moan and even this past week at the ESPY awards. The guy is bringing sexy back, so show him some respect and don’t name new guy after him.

Instead, from this point on, we’ll be referring to Jason Taylor as “McDreamy.” Girls gets that retarded look in their eye when you mention his name, just like when they’re talking about Grey’s Anatomy, so it kind of works out. Plus, that means we can call Jason Fabini “McMuffin” and Chris Cooley “McLovin.” Seriously, it’s a win-win.

Oh, and before I forget, whoever first suggested that Taylor looks like King Xerxes from the movie 300 … well … let’s just say that I got a good chuckle out of that one. Thanks for making my day.


down with the dirtbags

(AP photo)

As we’ve previously established, I’ve officially given up on trying to bring any type of breaking news or in-depth training camp breakdowns. Smart Redskins fans have plenty of places to go for that kind of stuff. Instead, I’ll continue to focus on some of the important issues that may otherwise go unreported, like how many days into training camp does offensive tackle Jon Jansen anticipate it will take before he and defensive lineman Kedric Golston start throwing punches at each other yet again, or exactly what does it take to be able to enter the training camp mobile home?

So without further adieu, here’s a quick one-on-one chat between a Homer and a Dirtbag.

First things first, are the milkshakes here?

“They will be. They’re not here yet, but it’s once a week and they’ll be here later this week.”

And the RV?

“The RV is out there and ready to go.”

Is the access list full update with who is allowed in?

“I’ve got a committee and if somebody wants in I take down their name to the committee and we go from there.”

When can we expect Jansen-Golston III, since it’s become a training camp ritual?

“Ahhh … we’ve got to get the pads on and it’s gotta get just a little bit warmer. Maybe a couple more days into camp we’ll all start gettig grumpy and things will start getting good.”

What do you say to the folks who say that the offensive line is an area of concern because of the injuries to you and Randy Thomas?

“I can’t really say it on print or on the radio, but it shouldn’t be a concern. I had a fluke injury last year because somebody fell on me. It wasn’t a wear and tear issue. I’ll be fine this year and moving forward.”

What do you see from the rookie Chad Rinehart?

“I’ll have to wait until we see video from today, and then I’ll let you know once we strap on the pads. This is I call it our helmets and skirts, so once we put our pants on we’ll see what happens.”

Right about then, I thanked Mr. Jansen for his time and let him head off into the building for meetings. But I did stop his partner in crime, center Casey Rabach, long enough to follow up on the RV question.

I see an RV out there. What can you tell me about it?

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

I love that about you, that you’ll deny everything until the end. Jansen said that there’s a rigorious process that reviews individual applicants. Can you shed any light on that?

“Yeah. You definitely need to be a card-carrying member to enter, and there are very few cards that have been handed out so far. I’m willing to bet there are even fewer given out this year, so we’ll see what happens.”

So if you’re a kicker who happens to currently be in a feud with Rabach and Jansen, it’s probably pretty safe to say you’re not getting in the RV or getting any Michigan milkshakes. And if you’re Kedric Golston, I’d try to get the panel to approve your RV visitation rights now, because in a week or so you very well may find yourself on the business end of a left cross from the feisty veteran lineman. Consider yourself warned.


fantasy football

(photo by Brian Murphy)

Did Pro Bowl tight end Chris Cooley really just post a link to my interview audio, post my photos and give me a shout out (“Photo credits go to Brian Murphy and Extremeskins.com as always they have the best stuff”)? Clearly, this world no longer makes sense.

And don’t even mention that he talks about sporting an “elephant thong” before he gets around to me. I know where I rank in the grand scheme of things, and have no problem with where I sit on the depth chart.

This is the point where I state the obvious — Cooley is the most popular player on the Redskins roster. So much so, that Dale Earnhardt Jr. is on the record saying he’d “give everything he’s got” to be Chris Cooley for a year. I, on the other hand, am a nobody. Dale Earnhardt Jr. wouldn’t want to be me for 10 minutes — even if I was playing a NASCAR video game as him.

This proves two things. The first, I won’t be going back to cover any more days of training camp. Why bother? I can’t do any better than this. And two, I will most certainly draft Cooley on my fantasy football team. If he’s willing to show some love to a nobody keeping him from the nice, air conditioned building to ask stupid questions about the ‘Skins’ Ultimate Fighter, then the least I can do is use my first-round pick on him.


the redskins’ ultimate fighter

This past Saturday night, Anderson “The Spider” Silva showed why he is the best mixed martial arts fighter in the world, putting James “The Sandman” Irvin to sleep without breaking a sweat during a UFC event on Spike TV.

Just one minute into the bout, Irvin attempted to sweep kick Silva. Unfortunately for him, the Brazilian caught Irvin’s foot with a left hand and with the challenger now completely defenseless, drove a crushing blow into “The Sandman’s” face. Game over. Thank you and good night.

That got me thinking, with Redskins training camp less than 24 hours away, I wondered which ‘Skins player would be crowned the Ultimate Fighting Champion if they had a tournament at Redskins Park.

Would it be a fan favorite like “Iron” Mike Sellers? Or maybe a chiseled monster like Andre Carter? Or possibly even Clinton Portis, who famously sported a WCW championship belt on the sidelines while playing for the Denver Broncos? The possibilities seemed endless.

So while the rest of the beat reporters and talking heads were asking the generic stuff, I was busy conducting an informal poll among the players as to who they think would be the last man standing. Here’s the funny thing, none of the six guys I interviewed Sunday afternoon were even remotely thrown off by my “Who would be the Redskins’ Ultimate Fighter Champion” question. Either they’ve gotten used to me over the last four seasons or this is something the guys have talked about in the locker room at some point.

The first guy I talked to was Casey Rabach, who is consistently one of the most enjoyable interviews on the team. First I asked him who would win, and then followed up by asking if it’d be a big guy like Mike Sellers or maybe a smaller, quicker guy.

“Sellers is a big [rhymes with wussy],” Rabach said.

I actually looked around to see if I was in the line of fire, just in case Sellers heard him.

“You know what, it’d probably be some crazy-ass [sounds like mother-father],” Rabach continued. “I’d probably put my money on someone who ain’t got a lot between the ears, that’s got some stamina … yeah, LaRon Landry might pull that one out.”

Chalk one vote for Landry.

“Honestly, I don’t know. Marcus seems like the UFC type, so maybe Marcus,” said Ladell Betts, of linebacker Marcus Washington. “I think Marcus is one of the tough guys on the team.”

One vote for Landry, and one vote for Washington.

“Weight class?” asked Antwaan Randel El.

No weight classes, I replied.

After throwing around a couple different names, Randel El eventually settled on Marcus Washington.

“He’d be like a crazy man in there,” he said.

Two votes for Washington. One for Landry.

With the players giving him support, I decided to seek out Washington to see who he thought would come out on top.

“I like to think I might get this belt,” Marcus said. “I think I might get in there and represent for the ‘Skins.”

I asked what kind of fighter Washington would be, and without hesitation he replied “I’d be a Kimbo Slice, just a street brawler, you know.”

That’s three votes for Washington. One for Landry.

“Probably Mike Sellers,” said Jason Campbell.

When I informed him that he was the first person to vote for “Iron” Mike, he said “I wonder whose getting the love? You gotta have a wild guy to win the Ultimate Fighter.”

“Someone told me you gotta have a guy who is pretty wild, but doesn’t have much between the ears,” I said.

“Then I’d probably say LaRon Landry,” Campbell said with a laugh.

That’s three votes for Washington. Two votes for (and two shots at) Landry.

Finally, I track down Captain Chaos himself, Chris Cooley. After all, if we’re going to ask a bizarre question, we’ve got to ask the most unpredictable guy on the roster.

“Honestly, that’s a great question and I don’t want to give myself props, but I was an All-American wrestler in high school and I think I’d have a pretty good chance.”

And unlike Rabach, Cooley had kind things to say about his tough-guy teammate.

“Mike Sellers would be tough, and I wouldn’t want to get punched in the face by Mike,” he said.

I tried to track down Sellers, but he had already headed inside to lift weights. So we’ll have to wait another day or two for his official opinions in regards to the Redskins Ultimate Fighter title, and possibly even a comment about a certain starting center who, for his safety, may have to hide in an RV the rest of training camp. But for today, we crown Marcus Washington the team’s Ultimate Fighter.

(photo by Brian Murphy)


take it to the bank

If you haven’t figured out by now, Ryan O’Halloran of The Washington Times, is one of the best beat writers in town. If you don’t believe me, go check out his latest contribution, a highly-enjoyable feature story on Chris Cooley from earlier this week. If you also haven’t figured out by now, I’m a complete hack. I watch a bunch of sports on TV or play a couple of video games, and suddenly I think I’m qualified to drive NASCAR tracks and rip the local baseball general manager who may or may not be under federal investigation.

To make up for the fact that you, the loyal readers, must put up with my incessant ramblings and mindless drivel on a regular basis, Ryan has graciously agreed to class up the joint by answering the top five questions the Washington Redskins face heading into training camp. Without further adeu, here we go:

1. Jim Zorn is a rookie head coach with roughly two weeks of offensive coordinator experience. What can we reasonably expect from the Z-man in his inaugural season?

Ryan: A major transition for the entire organization. If Zorn had even a season of coordinating experience, he would have had a chance to oversee half of the roster. In Seattle, he was responsible for three of the 53 players. Now he has to oversee a roster, a coaching staff, coach quarterbacks, call plays and deal with the media. That’s a awful hefty load. What I expect to see is an innovative offense that uses all of its weapons (Al Saunders was never allowed to do that). I also expect some games where Zorn acts like a first-year head coach and makes questionable decisions.

2. Like Zorn, Vinny Cerrato find himself in a new situation, now that he’s “the guy” when it comes to the front office. How much involvement did Cerrato have with some of the recent late-round draft picks (Montgomery, Doughty, etc.) and undrafted rookie free agents, and how confident should ‘Skins fans be with Vinny calling the shots?

Ryan: Cerrato’s impact on drafting second-day players is a million dollar question. Gregg Williams’ defensive staff scoured the country along with the team’s scouts during the pre Draft process. One positive for Vinny is that he hasn’t really screwed up a first-round pick. But the decisions by the front office in the draft room has left a lot to be desired. If Snyder/Cerrato really mean they’re turning over a new philosophical leaf, they have to draft better. Redskins fans aren’t going to cut Vinny much slack. I’m sure many were as puzzled as those in the media with the promotion before they actually hired a head coach. The fans should be in show-me-Vinny mode.

3. While the head coach is new, most of the players are not. This is a veteran team that has made the playoffs two out of the last three seasons. Does this team have what it takes to compete in the always competitive NFC East and an improving NFC, or should fans temper their expectations as the team adjusts to the new regime?

Ryan: While hardly any of the players are new, expectations for a team should be lowered anytime there’s a new head coach, two new coordinators and a new passing game. That’s not continuity. That’s transition and basically starting over. And that’s fine — obviously Snyder wasn’t comfortable handing the keys of the his kingdom to Williams. The Redskins might win only six or seven games but their talent could be better than that — the NFC East is that tough. Right now, I’d tab them to finish last in the division.

4. Where do the Redskins have the most depth and where is the biggest area of concern heading into the season?

The most depth: Quarterback because Todd Collins showed last year he has a few bullets left in his 36-year old throwing arm. Running back because Ladell Betts proved to be a solid every-down player when Clinton Portis missed the final half of the 2006 season. Safety: LaRon Landry, Reed Doughty, Stuart Schweigert and Vernon Fox all have NFL starting experience.

The biggest area of concern: Attrition along the offensive and defensive lines. Both sides are aging, don’t have a ton of depth and do have a long injury history. Linebacker: The back-ups are Khary Campbell, H.B. Blades and Matt Sinclair. Cornerback: If Carlos Rogers starts the season on the shelf, the Redskins could be in trouble.

5. If you had to pick one Redskins player, who is most likely poised for a breakout season? Why?

Safety LaRon Landry. I got ripped pretty good for this last year but I think Landry is light years ahead of where Sean Taylor was at the same point of their career. Landry is athletically gifted like Taylor but, entering his second season, is already excellent at anticipating plays, making up for a teammates’ mistake/blown assignment and sending messages with physical play. He might not make the Pro Bowl this season but he’ll turn out to be the defense’s best player.

For more of O’Halloran’s work, check out the Redskins 360 blog.


something about brett

Dave Elfin, of The Washington Times, poses the question in today’s paper – could the burgundy and gold make a play for future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre?

How about a trade to a team that has gone eight seasons without a Pro Bowl quarterback, has an inexperienced starter who grew up idolizing his fellow Mississippian and has an owner with an expansive checkbook?

Yes, the Washington Redskins. Envisioning Brett in burgundy yet?

Redskins owner Dan Snyder just might be, though NFL sources believe it is highly unlikely to happen.

While it makes for entertaining copy and might sell an extra newspaper or two, I’m sorry to say it just ain’t going to happen. If the ‘Skins weren’t absolutely committed to that “fellow Mississippian,” Jason Campbell, then I could see it. But they’ve basically come out and said, “We’re going to give Jason every chance to be our franchise quarterback.” I mean, Todd “The Tasty Drink” Collins came in last season after Campbell was injured during the Chicago Bears game and closed out the regular season with five-straight wins when anything less would have ended their season, and it’s as if he was never even an option. Campbell is the starter. End of discussion. (Well … unless Peyton Manning or Tom Brady somehow became available).

A couple other quick hits about Favre:

1. It’s his right to want to play as long as he wants, and it’s the team’s right to want to move on. The problem comes if/when the Packers want to move on, but don’t want to release him. No one thinks Favre will be a backup to unproven quarterback-in-waiting Aaron Rodgers. And if he somehow did agree to it, the very first incomplete pass from Rodgers will be met with a chorus of “WE WANT FAVRE!” from the Cheeseheads.

2. With Favre on the cover of the Madden ’09 video game, whoever ends up with Brett will have to know the Madden Curse will be heading into town with him. But here’s a question for you – if Favre stays retired and the curse can’t get him, does that mean it transfers to Tony Romo (a.k.a. – John Madden’s next object of desire)? And speaking of Romo, is he really planning on heading into the season without former gal pal Jessica Simpson? In the immortal words of Weezer, “Say it ain’t so.”

3. If he does stay retired, can we see him reunite with the Farrelly Brothers for a follow-up to “There’s Something About Mary?”

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