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Camping Out: Coaching Differences Are Noticeable at Redskins Park; And That's a Good Thing


John Keim has covered the Washington Redskins since 1994. Follow his work at and

After some great insight last week, John opens the door on how camp is being run in contrast to that of the Ringling Brothers circus Jim Zorn's camp. After attending parts of minicamp last year, it's so true it's impossible to evaluate talent without the pads on, so this week we're going to focus mainly on the coaching structure, Kevin Barnes, and if the Kickers got any action. It's a Albert Haynesworth-free week here at Hogs Haven. I don't even want to hear his name....nor does Cooley.

Hogs Haven: What are some noticeable differences from how Shanahan runs his camp versus Zorn (and how they handled players). From my time at OTAs lat year I remember a lot the veteran players on one knee (Portis and Sellers) while others did stretches.

Mike is more of a CEO type and deals with his players much more directly than Zorn. That's pretty big. It's a more professional atmosphere. I liked Zorn personally, but there is a change. I did not see guys on knees while others stretched. The tempo of the practice was crisper, especially compared to Zorn's early minicamps. But I also remember guys telling me early in Zorn's tenure how much a breath of fresh air he was. I think what's more noticeable is the confidence in the players, stemming from Shanahan and Donovan McNabb.

Can you spend a few minutes talking about a new coach and what kind of difference he is making?

The coach who I  noticed more was Keenan McCardell. He throws a tight spiral for starters. But he seems to be much more intense working with this group than Stan Hixon. I'm anxious to see what impact he can have on a Devin Thomas or Malcolm Kelly. Hard to say what kind of difference he's making now. Some of these guys should look good at this point. But I think having someone who did what Keenan did now working with the young guys should be a huge benefit. Strength coach Ray Wright is another one. At this time of the year he's easy to notice. But ask the guys who couldn't practice how much fun they had working with him. Andre Carter is one of the most well-conditioned athletes you'll find and he was struggling after Wright worked with him on the side. 

How does Kevin Barnes look?

Honestly, he's not a guy I paid much attention to in the day we could watch. He did intercept one pass down the middle of the field. But I was not too high on him last year. Did not hear a lot of good things from coaches and kept watching him get sizzled on moves in practice. However, he did seem to improve. Still, entering camp, I don't see him as anything more than the fifth corner. We'll get a much better gauge of where he's at once the pads come on. The guy who jumped out at me was Fred Davis. He's always done that in these sort of situations, but coming off what he did last season it makes him look even better.

Can you name one returning vet not currently slated to start that has a chance to do just that?

Hard to say because most spots don't have a strong veteran in a backup role. Maybe Kedric Golston, but depending on what happens with Albert Haynesworth he could start anyway. If nothing else he'll play a big role. I don't see Justin Tryon becoming a No. 2 corner. I guess the one spot it will be interesting to see is the safety spot opposite LaRon Landry. I would give Chris Horton and Kareem Moore an edge simply because they would do a better job of enabling Landry to play more in the box, especially Moore. At OLB, I need to see Andre Carter there before I would speculate on who might beat him out. Until they get in pads, the OLB position will be difficult to gauge. Seems like half the DL is now working there (Rob Jackson was there this weekend, too). And offensively, as long as Trent Williams is in camp on time he'll start at LT and Artis Hicks will start at RT. I don't see Stephon Heyer beating either one out. 

Did Josh Bidwell and Graham Gano boot any balls?

No. And I'm thankful for that. Too early to start watching punters and kickers! But obviously I would like to see how Gano does. He made me nervous last year. I'm also curious to see how the new long snapper does and if he makes them want to call Ethan Albright this summer.    

It's never too late to start talking kickers. Would you rather talk kickers or Haynesworth or Offensive Line?!!?  Ha. Thanks again to John Keim. If you're not already, follow him on twitter.