Friday, December 12: What Wide Receivers Do In Practice

Yesterday, commenter Ax asked me what, precisely, the wide receivers actually do at practice. My initial inclination was to say that they run around a lot and occasionally catch passes, but it seemed like a needlessly glib, unhelpful response.

randleelwithkindereggSo I promised that I’d have one of the receivers take me through it today, and explain exactly what they do and what to look for when they’re practicing. I had assumed that this would have to wait until open locker room, or later today when the guys are trying to get out of the facility for their night off, but one nice thing about this job is that sometimes you get lucky.

Players walk by where I sit fairly often — they have to pass me to get to the PR and HR offices, two places they all need to visit occasionally — but they don’t always have the time or inclination to stop and chat. Today, though, the person Antwaan Randle El was hoping to see was out of the office (freeing up his time), and he was distracted by the tempting chocolate/hazelnut eggs in my desk-neighbor’s authentic German Kinder Überraschungsadvent calendar (leading him to stop and stay for a bit).

He kindly agreed to take some time and answer this pressing question, which I figured would prevent me from having to offer the dumb glib answer I had initially come up with.

So what, exactly, do you wide receivers do in practice?

“Run. Run, run, run. That’s all we do.” [So much for that hope.]

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Redskins Distribute Jackets

The reason I was in my car to hear Clinton Portis‘s pointed thoughts on Jim Zorn was because of Antwaan Randle El. Randle El, along with many of his teammates, and with the help of his El Foundation, the Redskins Charitable Foundation, and Dick’s Sporting Goods, spent today distributing winter coats to underserved children at two area schools — one in D.C., and one in Maryland.

coats01

“This is something that we started in Pittsburgh,” Randle El said. “It’s cold in Pittsburgh, and coats seemed like an important thing. I think this is the third one we’ve done here. I’ve been so blessed by God, and I try to do what I can to be a blessing.”

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Wednesday, October 29: Redskins Make Kids Healthy

Seeing members of the Redskins working with kids in the community makes me realize just how much more effective elementary school education could be if the teachers were celebrities. Not just celebrities, but very large, very strong celebrities. With whistles. Even then, the kids don’t fully listen, but it certainly makes for some interesting visuals.

While Jason Campbell was reliving second grade yesterday, a few of his teammates were turning the tables on their gym class memories. Antwaan Randle El, Rocky McIntosh, and Leigh Torrence joined Andre Carter and his wife Bethany as they hosted the 1st Annual Carter Boot Camp to support the United Way of the National Capital Area‘s Child Wellness Initiative, and all four players seemed to relish being the ones blowing the whistles and giving instruction.

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Inside Redskins Park: Some New Front Desk Help

A little surprising to walk into Redskins Park today and see a new face at the reception desk.

Good choice, though — Randle El is one of the most versatile people on the team, and now he can add this to his list of accomplishments. I bet Kordell Stewart didn’t answer phone calls as one of the slashes that earned him his nickname.

Making “The Mayne Event”

Kenny Mayne’s idea for his Mayne Event segment this week centers around the “Hip Hip Hooray” cheer, which appears to have caught the public imagination in a way that I couldn’t quite have imagined when Zorn first broke it out at the Welcome Home Luncheon.

As Mayne explained to me when I spoke to him, these shoots are not simple — this one includes a lot of players — but he manages to execute the actual shooting quickly and with an impressive minimum of fuss. Here, with the help of Redskins PR, he’s grabbed the first four guys he needs — Chris Samuels, Jason Campbell, Antwaan Randle El, and Colt Brennan — as they came off the field after morning practice, and he quickly gets them briefed on what they’re doing and set up to shoot the establishing shot of the segment.

EDIT TO ADD: We’re having some problems with the video; I’ll have it fixed as soon as I can. Fixed, hopefully.

There are multiple takes, of course, but on the whole the process moves surprisingly quickly and the guys really seem to get into it.

The most unusual element of Mayne’s shoot, actually, turns out to have nothing to do with him at all.
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Tuesday, October 7: Randle El Hip Hip Hoorays

It’s been up on Redskins.com for awhile, and it’s also been picked up around the blog-o-world, but if you haven’t seen Antwaan Randle El leading the “hip hip hooray” after the win over the Eagles, it’s an excellent way to start off the day.

Chris Cooley and Antwaan Randle El: Good Guys

A few people sent me the link to a story in the Frederick News-Post this weekend, about Chris Cooley driving up to Jefferson, MD, (west of Frederick) to visit with Ron Frazier. Frazier is a lifelong Redskins fan who was diagnosed with colon cancer, and a family friend contacted the team to see if they could, according to the article, “give Ron and Kathy one more joyful memory.”

The Redskins asked if it was possible for Ron to visit the team for a practice, but he is no longer able to travel. Instead, Cooley drove to Jefferson from Virginia on Friday after practice to meet the Fraziers. Two dozen friends, family members and neighbors were there. When the neighborhood children heard what was happening, they ran over, too.

Cooley posed for dozens of pictures and autographed everything in sight: footballs; posters; pennants; photos; hats — and, of course, a whole bunch of No. 47 jerseys. He stayed for nearly an hour, answering inside football questions, making small talk and discussing new coach Jim Zorn.

I read the article — it really is a terrific story — and set it aside to include in today’s Redskins links. As I watched the game, though, one particular part of the article came back to me: “Cooley promised to send Ron a keepsake football if he scored a touchdown Sunday.” So that was hanging in the balance, along with the score of the game, as Cooley’s touchdown catch was reviewed.

Then, today, I noticed this in the Washington Times:

Walking out of the Washington Redskins’ locker room after Sunday’s 23-17 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, Chris Cooley clutched the football he caught for his first touchdown of the season, part of a career day for the tight end.

But the game ball wasn’t for him.

Cooley intended to sign the football and award it to receiver Antwaan Randle El, who threw the pass Cooley caught for an 18-yard score.

I found Cooley in Redskins Park today and asked him about it. “I kinda got mixed up, because I told El during the week that I’d give it to him,” he shook his head. “I’m gonna give it to [Frazier]. I’m sure El does not care.”

He also mentioned enjoying the experience as a whole. “It was cool,” he said. “They were saying they have thirteen or fourteen seats in the lower bowl, and they all wear 47 jerseys.”

I asked if he had told El about the mix-up yet; he hadn’t, but I was fortunate enough to be around when he did, and it took Randle El about an eighth of a second to show himself to be every bit as classy as Cooley expected.

“Let me sign it too,” he said, after hearing the story. “That’ll work. That’s real good, actually.”

My recording of the conversation is hard to hear, as I just clicked on my recorder while the two talked, with the microphone not particularly close to either of them, so Cooley’s response is somewhat muddled. “I’ll bring it in this week,” he says, meaning the game ball. Then something muffled about visiting the Fraziers, and then, “He’s a really good guy.” It’s not clear if he’s referring to Frazier or Randle El, and in this case it can probably be safely applied to both of them, and Cooley as well.

Your Questions for Antwaan Randle El

I received more questions for Antwaan Randle El than I have for any previous individual, and I was only able to get to a portion of them. But he was candid and straightforward in his responses, and if the opportunity presents itself I’ll try to get in some of the questions I missed.

Photo by Ned Dishman.

Photo by Ned Dishman.

Much is made amongst a team’s fanbase of the hatred of Dallas. As a professional athlete in an era of free agency does this rivalry exist in the same way for you and other players as it does for the fans?

You can feel it just being on the team, being in the division. They’re Dallas, you know? We played Dallas a couple of times when I was in Pittsburgh, and they would seem kinda arrogant and cocky, which is where I think a lot of it comes from. Now, the rivalry, playing them all the time, it’s even more.

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A Player’s Week: Randle El On The Practice Field and On Camera

Antwaan Randle El emphasizes the importance of proper hydration.

Antwaan Randle El emphasizes the importance of proper hydration.

Thursdays are incredibly full days for Antwaan Randle El. They start with meetings, followed by weights, and then a morning practice. “We don’t wear full gear, but we do wear helmets,” he says. “It’s definitely difficult, and it lasts about 30, 45 minutes.”

Open locker room comes at the same time as many players are grabbing lunch. This, as I’ve mentioned before, is theoretically the time when the media has access to the players and can get all the quotes they need. In practice, it doesn’t always shake out that way, which we’ll get to shortly.

After open locker room, it’s time for the longer afternoon practice session. One of the notable things in regular season practices is the practice squad players portraying the other team’s stars, like Byron Westbrook putting on a 25 over-jersey to simulate Reggie Bush last week. “It helps them on defense, no doubt,” says Randle El. “You know where Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, and whoever are going to line up in the game. So when you’re in the game, you see the numbers, you recognize the same formations.”

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A Player’s Week: Randle El’s Day Off

The strangest thing about following Antwaan Randle El this week has been how frankly normal his life is. Even knowing that Randle El is a devout man of faith – thus eliminating the possibility of some sort of over-the-top, 1990′s Dallas Cowboys-style day off or anything like that – and even in the era after The Osbournes and The Two Coreys and all the other celebs-are-just-like-us reality shows, I somehow expected El’s offday to be drastically different from anything I might come up with.

Here is his description of his day off, unedited and uninterrupted:

Yesterday I woke up, I did some work in the yard, and then I drove my son to school. Came back and had to take my youngest girl to the doctor. She had to get three shots, but she was great — only cried for thirty seconds, then she was good. Got her home, got her some lunch.

At about 2:00, I had a meeting about my commercial properties and stuff. My three year old wouldn’t take her nap, so I took her to the meeting with me. Then I came back, did some MORE work in the yard, and by that time, it was time to settle down. My wife was just getting back from class and she had a friend in town, so they had to go out. So me and the kids, we went out, rolled to Circuit City, stuff like that. I came home, put them in the bed, and it was time for me to go to bed.

That was my day. That was Tuesday.

I suppose this is different from what I might have come up with, but mainly because I don’t have commercial properties and I’ve never really had a yard. But those are not the things I expected to be the primary differences between my day off and a professional football player’s.

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