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Robert Griffin III is still the biggest draw, but the team's new facility is also getting rave reviews.
The Washington Redskins open the season Monday with a roster containing just nine players who predate coach Mike Shanahan. Of the 53-man roster, 20 are players Shanahan drafted and 22 he acquired in free agency.
Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris signs autographs for fans after NFL football practice in Richmond, Va., Friday, Aug. 16, 2013. (AP Photo/Richmond Times-Dispatch, Daniel Sangjib Min)
Mark Gormus | Richmond Times-Dispatch
Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III refuses to call his recovery from surgery to reconstruct his ACL and LCL a comeback, saying that he was “never gone.”
Saturday, August 17, 2013
RICHMOND - Year 1 is in the books at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center, with the facility getting generally positive reviews from the more than 100,000 fans who made the trek across the city or around the world to attend.
With a superstar quarterback and a new facility, there was no shortage of storylines to follow. Here are the top 10:
10. Bucket hats
Any doubt that Robert Griffin III is the team's biggest celebrity was erased when he wore a bucket hat during morning walkthroughs.
The floppy hats, which retailed for $30 at the team store on site, sold out in the first week.
An additional shipment of 400 hats sold out in two hours, a routine that repeated itself every morning until supplies ran out for good.
9. Kirk Cousins' starring role
With Griffin out for most of camp, backup quarterback Kirk Cousins got the spotlight, and showed Redskins fans he may have a long NFL career.
Cousins was decisive and commanding in the huddle, and backed that up with strong performances daily during 11-on-11 work.
Entering camp, Richmond's summer heat and humidity was a top concern, and fans arrived prepared with sunscreen and water.
Instead, the Redskins were treated to one of the coolest camps in recent memory thanks to waves of rain showers.
Only two workouts were altered by rain, though others were conducted during intermittent showers.
7. Underdogs fight to make the cut
Receiver Skye Dawson of TCU headlined this year's list - a gig with the Redskins would be particularly interesting in light of the fact that his mom was a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader.
Things didn't end as well for veteran receiver Devery Henderson, a long shot who was released with three practices remaining in camp.
UVa grad Chase Minnifield, a cornerback, continues his fight. The team would have to take an extra cornerback to accommodate him, but he's impressed coaches with his smart play.
The most notable out of this year's camp was rookie safety Phillip Thomas, who suffered a Lisfranc fracture during the first preseason game and will miss the rest of the season. Thomas' absence means Washington will enter the season lacking depth at safety for the second straight year.
One player to watch going forward will be left tackle Trent Williams, who practiced with his left arm in a cast to protect against a wrist injury. Williams said he's good to go, and the cast is merely a precautionary measure.
5. Griffin-Shanahan "feud"
It became a three-day drama when Robert Griffin III admitted he didn't like his rehab plan and wished he could do more.
The ESPN networks went wall-to-wall with "Shanahan vs. RG III" coverage the next day, and Griffin made an unannounced appearance in front of the press corps to clarify that there's "no conflict" between him and the coach.
4. Skins in Richmond
General manager Bruce Allen and owner Dan Snyder walked from the Omni to the training facility every day and were greeted by waves and cheers, something they probably wouldn't have been able to pull off in Ashburn.
The Tobacco Company had a number of player sightings, and no doubt benefitted from its location right next to the team hotel.
3. Orakpo dominant in workouts
Nobody who attended camp will be surprised if Brian Orakpo lights it up for the Redskins.
Orakpo missed almost all of the 2012 season after tearing his pectoral muscle in Week 2. His rehab is complete, though, and the outside linebacker had his way with the offensive line during camp.
2. The facility
Officially christened the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center, the facility itself debuted to rave reviews from players and coaches, who called it the nicest training camp facility they'd seen (most teams work on college campuses).
Crowds of about 10,000 flocked to the facility daily, and the players responded, particularly Griffin and long snapper Nick Sundberg, two of the many players who signed autographs for hours after practices.
1. RG III's return
No storyline came close to competing with Griffin, even in the opening days as he mostly stood on the sideline.
The quarterback's adoring throngs were reminiscent of Beatlemania, and his every move was tracked by camera crews and fans.
Even with all that scrutiny, it's hard to know his status right now. Griffin's reconstructed knee has been tested only moderately in practice, where he can't be touched.
There is one positive sign, though. Griffin participated in all 17 training camp workouts, far more than the team's other players who are rehabbing torn ACLs. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said that Griffin "works as hard as you can work" in his rehab, and Mike Shanahan said his star quarterback will be ready for Week 1 as long as there are no setbacks.
In that regard, Richmond's first training camp was a success. Now, Griffin and his coach will retreat behind closed doors in Ashburn to finish the rehab and prepare for the Philadelphia Eagles.
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