First, apologies for my recent absence. Real life has interfered with a vengence and before I can cast it away I'll continue to be sporadically present. I anticipate return to normalcy sometime Monday.
Shawn Springs was the only player absent from the second session of the Washington Redskins' "voluntary" organized team activities yesterday at Redskin Park yesterday, and Phillip Daniels wasn't too happy about it.
"If there's no reason [for his absence] and I'm here, then be here, be a leader," said Daniels, who has been Springs' teammate for eight seasons with the Redskins and the Seattle Seahawks. "[Shawn]'s his own man. I'm a leader. I lead by example. I lead by being here. I'm not a rah-rah guy. He's not here to help us right now. ... He gotta deal with the way people perceive him. I can only say to him, 'Get here. Be involved with this.'"
I consider that pretty heavy criticism. I'm perhaps mistaken, but previously when a player was absent his teammates would overwhelmingly downplay the incident in support, saying things along the lines of, it isn't mandatory, he's keeping himself in shape, so on and so forth.
Jim Zorn can't get in touch with Shawn because, unbelievably, his voice mail is full. Even text messaging has failed, and this is the 21st century. In any event, Daniels expressed a softer side later in the article:
"I don't know if something's wrong," Daniels said. "I know he's going through a lot with his family, too. So I don't want to knock him too much until [I] get the full story, but I would love for him to be here."
Shawn Springs has been in the NFL a long time, and I've no doubt that once he gets on a field he'll know what to do and will perform just fine. However, no amount of experience can mend the perception his teammates have of him, and whatever it is "chemistry" means on defense, you don't develop it by practicing hundreds of miles away from the rest of the team.
The Bog has an exchange between Doc Walker and Vinny Cerrato, with the latter pointing out:
Vinny Cerrato: "Yeah, you know what, because I know he's in town and he works out with the boxing guy, and he was out in Arizona. I mean, it's no different than he did last year. I mean, Doc, you know why it doesn't really, it was the same thing he did last year. And you know what, and if I'm Shawn, I would do the same thing I did the year before. He had a great year, he didn't miss any time, was healthy the whole year. So, I mean, I expected him to go back to Arizona and do all those things, and he never talked to anybody last year either....You know, he's a mature guy. When he shows up, he's going to be in as good a shape as anybody on the football team."
Involuntary team events aren't miles away, so whether Shawn's voice mail is full or not, he's going to have to show up in the not-so-distant future.