We are a week into Redskins Training Camp down in Richmond and all the buzz is about what’s happening on the practice field. That’s right- no off field drama. No hashtags, and no crazy predictions. Just football. Some in my business think it is ‘boring.’ No it’s actually called ‘progress.’
I don’t blame fans or some of the media for not knowing how to handle the “drama-free” Redskins. For the better part of the last two decades there always seems to be some non-football storylines swirling around the franchise.
Good franchises have ‘boring’ training camps and boring press conferences (i.e. Patriots). It is part of having a good culture. The best NFL franchises have players that come to work and get better and don’t embarrass the franchise away from work.
Maybe it is the lack of ‘non-football’ stories that has caused some fans and the media to overreact to the team’s prized free agent Josh Norman getting beat by DeSean Jackson in one-on-one drills. Players get beat in practice, and especially defensive players in a drill that is set up for offensive success. Even one high profile NFL player – Arizona Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson – took some shots at Norman on twitter after seeing the highlight. Apparently Peterson is sore because Norman has the highest ‘Madden’ rating among CB’s. Yes, times have changed.
Anyway, Norman is more focused on the process of getting better.
“It’s crazy,” Norman said via ESPN.COM. “I practice my tail off and work hard, you practice against guys you haven’t seen before. I’m learning them as much as I can. But DeSean is DeSean. He’s the fastest guy in the league, oh my gosh. If you don’t stay over top of him, things like that will happen. But it’s practice, so this is where I’m learning where to play my leverage and where not to play and how to play him. It’s unique and interesting to me.”
Norman is going to get beat this season. That’s just part of the job description and a game that has put in rules to help the passing game. So everyone should probably take a deep breath and relax. The under-reported part of this story is DeSean Jackson has been a beast in training camp, but he too knows we are talking about practice!
“It’s practice,” Jackson said via ESPN.com. “That’s what we’re out here for. It’s not like he’s going against a guy that’s not capable of winning matchups one-on-one. It’s really for a wide receiver to win. He’s known to be a top corner in this league so everybody is supposedly like, ‘He’s supposed to stop whoever it is that’s coming out there.’ But it’s challenging on both sides. As far as his intangibles, his length, his arms, he’s got some great intangibles with his game. He’ll be ready for the season.”
Getting ready for regular season is all that matters. These practices are important, but better to make the mistakes in August at Richmond instead of in real NFL stadiums. Also, Norman fortunately won’t have to cover Jackson in the regular season. He will have to deal with Pro Bowlers Odell Beckham Jr and Dez Bryant. He doesn’t need to be ready today, just Week 1-17 (and hopefully the playoffs). Until then, he can work on his craft.
That’s why they call it ‘practice.’