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A couple quick notes from covering training camp

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Hi guys.  My name is Mike Prada, and I'm the senior editor of SB Nation D.C. and the webmaster of our Wizards blog Bullets Forever.  Kevin asked me to share some observations from training camp, since I've been able to cover the first two days (not today, I'm heading out of town) with a press credential.  Here are a couple quick thoughts:

  • Albert Haynesworth: Obviously, this whole thing has been beaten to death, but in case it wasn't clear, Haynesworth's "test" isn't exactly the kind of standardized exercise that everyone takes.  It's actually a conditioning drill turned into a "test" specifically for Haynesworth.  Strength and Conditioning Coach Ray Wright explained the whole thing yesterday.  Basically, the test is a variation of a drill the players often do during their OTAs, and anyone who didn't attend more than 50 percent of the OTA sessions had to do it as a "test" before training camp.  Haynesworth was the only one who didn't pass that threshold (though Andre Carter and Rocky McIntosh were close), so he had to take the drill-turned-test.
  • Mike Shanahan said he thinks anyone on the team could pass the test "in their sleep," but that's somewhat debatable.  It's a bit unclear whether the players were timed when doing the drill in OTAs, and it's less clear whether the defensive linemen had to do it in 70 seconds, then 73 seconds.  Some players, like Phillip Daniels, said they could pass the test easily.  Others, like DeAngelo Hall, said he's not sure players on the team could pass it even at 100 percent.  Ultimately, the best way to classify the "test" is that's it's standard, but probably not as easy as Shanahan thinks.
  • One thing that was interesting is that Daniels said he thinks the test gets harder every day because of the wear and tear on your body.  However, Wright disagreed with that statement, saying it gets easier because you learn how to find the right pace to run when you fail it.  Pretty much everyone I talked to, from Hall to Daniels, also said you needed to train for the test to pass it well.
Non-test stuff below the jump:
  • There's been shockingly little talk about Donovan McNabb, other than in the most general terms.  (That's probably because of Haynesworth).  McNabb looked about as expected, not standing out, but not messing up a ton.  Perhaps the most interesting McNabb quote came from Santana Moss after Day 1.   "The good quarterbacks look backside and say 'That third read might be first read.' That's what separates offenses in this leauge.  You look at some guys and you ask 'Well, how did he get that many yards.' But he didn't get all those yards from being first read all the time. He got it because when defenses were in off coverage and gave him a mismatch, that offense had a good quarterback and knew where to find him.  I feel like that's what Donovan brings us."
  • In general, everyone's very excited about Kyle Shanahan's new offense.  Moss said one thing he loves about it is that Shanahan gives players the freedom to freelance if the play breaks down.   "He runs schemes that are not always so finely stitched. Sometimes, you get an offense where a guy has something written and he says 'This is what I want you to do,' even though he knows defenses in this day and age are going to play differently. He's one of those guys that has [the play] written, but he'll also say, 'Hey, if you can make something out of it differently, let's do it, because we want to make a play out of it, we don't want to just throw it into coverage.' He's one of those guys that's very flexible on how you get open, as long as you and the quarterback are on the same page."  I was also told that one reason Jason Campbell got sacked so much is that Jim Zorn's offense didn't really have hot routes.  He was supposed to run the play, regardless of the pressure.  Take that for what you will.
  • More Kyle Shanahan - I talked to Fred Davis, and he said that the most exciting thing about Kyle's offense is that he knows he can get both Davis and Cooley plenty of opportunities.  Cooley echoed that sentiment as well.  So far, we've seen a lot of that, with Davis making a couple nice catches running down the seam in the middle.
  • Speaking of Davis, I asked him whether some of the fan criticism he got in the first year and a half bothered him at all.  He admitted that he felt people didn't understand that he was behind Cooley and just needed his opportunity to shine.  "Sometimes, you have to tune [fans] out, because sometimes, they're just wrong."  
  • Wide receivers: There's been a lot of talk about Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly playing on the second unit.  When Shanahan said Joey Galloway and Roydell Williams were ahead of them on the depth chart, I thought he misspoke, but it's true.  Shanahan said those two were more impressive in OTAs, though he added the caveat that Thomas and Kelly had nagging injuries that dropped them down a bit.  I actually think Thomas has played pretty well, so we'll see what happens there.  Kelly is still struggling with his hamstring, so it's been tough to evaluate him.
  • Clinton Portis looks very good, and I think he's rejuvenated from playing with Mike Shanahan.  He seems thrilled to be reunited with Shanahan, even downplaying McNabb's impact to say so.   "I wouldn't say that it was Donovan that rubbed off on guys. I think it was the organization," Portis said when asked about McNabb's impact on the vibe at training camp. "With Coach Shanahan coming in setting the rules, everybody abiding by the same rules, I think that it has players buying in."    
  • Larry Johnson is running really hard, finishing off runs more than 20 yards upfield.  He seems thrilled to be back here in D.C., and he's admitted to us that he sees a real opportunity.  However, he's also dropped three easy screen passes in the first two days, passes Brian Westbrook would gobble up.  Willie Parker's played ok, but Ryan Torrain continues to impress.  Don't be surprised to see Torrain leap ahead of Parker.
  • The starting defensive front 7, for the most part, has been Adam CarrikerMa'ake Kemoeatu and Kendrick Golston up front, with Lorenzo Alexander, London Fletcher, Rocky McIntosh and Brian Orakpo at linebacker.  Andre Carter has been rotating in a bit for Alexander, but for the most part, he's been on the second team.
  • Trent Williams looked very good in his first practice, and both Orakpo and Derrick Dockery praised his effort.  Shanahan did too.
  • One guy turning heads here is Terrence Austin.  Austin made a couple really nice catches on Friday, and was practicing a bit as the punt returner as well.  Shanahan was very happy with him, saying it's very impressive that he came in only in June (because he was still at UCLA) and picked up the offense so quickly.  Austin also said he's eyeing that punt return job, because everyone has told him the way to stick on an NFL roster is to make an impact on special teams.  I really think he could be a huge asset this year on special teams, and he could be a solution to the punt return woes.
I'll check in a bit more when possible if I go next week, but those are just some impressions from the first couple of days.