Zorn on Punters: “Chris Cooley Can’t Punt For Us”

Coach Zorn started his press conference with an update and something of a clarification on the punting situation. “We’re bringing some punters in tomorrow,” Zorn confirmed. “This has nothing to do with [Durant Brooks’s] injury.”

Zorn described the injury as “a nagging irritation” of the hip flexor or quad on Brooks’s right (kicking) leg, and said that Brooks was off getting an MRI this morning.

Pressed to clarify Vinny Cerrato’s statements on his radio show this morning, Zorn reiterated, “his position is in jeopardy because of performance, not because of injury.” Zorn suggested the Cerrato was making his assessment based on the apparent severity of the injury combined with the fact that the team was planning to bring in competition, but he emphasized that if Brooks was cleared by the doctors and none of the punters tomorrow clearly surpassed him, Brooks could well remain as the team’s punter.

As far as Cooley, someone asked if Brooks would be holding even if he didn’t punt, which Zorn found mildly amusing. “Chris Cooley can’t punt for us,” he said. “If [Brooks] can’t punt, he can’t hold.”

Actually, I had numerous reports from people who saw Cooley booting the ball around in pregame warmups, and they all thought he had a heck of a leg. It’s a questionable use of your Pro Bowl tight end, but maybe we shouldn’t rule anything out.

Slight Punter Update

I’m being told that the team expects to reach an injury settlement with Durant Brooks, which would account for Cerrato’s certainty that they’ll be signing someone while still saying that Brooks hasn’t been cut.

A New Punter?

On his radio show “The Red Zone” on ESPN 980, Vinny Cerrato just said that the team would be working out two or three punters this week, and “somebody else will be punting Sunday.” In response to a question from co-host Frank Hanrahan about if Durant Brooks had been cut, Cerrato said “No, he hasn’t been cut yet,” but reiterated that somebody else would be punting. More details once I’ve got them.

Durant Brooks and the 24 Hour Rule

Durant Brooks looked, frankly, miserable. This specific brand of football unhappiness was not something I had given a lot of thought to, to be honest. I had imagined how it might feel to miss a game-winning kick or drop a game-winning pass in the moment, maybe immediately afterward, but never what it would be like the next day. Looking at Brooks sitting in the locker room on Monday, more or less left alone by the media pack, I got the distinct sense that it wasn’t a heck of a lot of fun.

“At Georgia Tech we had the 24 hour rule – you can think about your last game for 24 hours and then you’ve got to move on,” he said, and paused to look at his watch. “It’s been about 24 hours, but it’s tough.”

He did brighten minutely when I told him that Derrick Frost had reportedly sent a text message to a reporter telling the media to go easy on Brooks, but not all that much. “That’s cool,” he said.

I asked what the coaches had said to him after the game, and he gave the shrug of someone who already knew what he was going to be told before anyone had to say anything. “I’ve gotta come through. I’ve gotta have a better game – and, I mean, it can’t be much worse.” He shook his head. “I only had two punts, and I wish I could’ve had a few more to redeem myself, but that’s the way punting goes. You can have seven one game and two the next, and they’ve all gotta be good. You don’t get second chances.”

Tuesday, September 9: Shopping With the Stars

Last night, the Jason Taylor Foundation, in partnership with the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation, hosted their “Cool Gear For The School Year” shopping program at Old Navy in Leesburg.

The event provides 60 area kids with a $300 shopping trip to Old Navy, where they’re accompanied by local athletes, cheerleaders, and media. Taylor started the event in 2005 in Miami, and he’s brought it here as part of the process of making the DC area “feel more like home and not just a work stop.”

Students were paired with celebrities and given an hour to shop their way around Old Navy. Each pair was given a $300 gift card, along with a calculator for tracking total price and a couple of shopping bags.

“I just have to carry everything,” said punter Durant Brooks, shrugging. Come on — aren’t you helping to pick some stuff out? “Yeah, he rocks,” said his partner Lydia.

Then there was NBC 4’s Lindsay Czarniak, who was attending as both celebrity co-shopper and working media. Her approach was slightly different.

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Hall of Fame Game: Kickers Readying For Battle

As has been thoroughly detailed, one of the main battles in training camp is between the punters.

Shaun Suisham and movement leader Durant Brooks work out pregame in Canton.

Shaun Suisham and movement leader Durant Brooks work out pregame in Canton.

The nice thing about this battle, according to special teams coach Danny Smith, is that it is completely quantifiable: the person who is closest to the numbers he’s looking for will be the punter.

Derrick Frost working out pregame in Canton.

Derrick Frost working out pregame in Canton.

As noted in that post, according to conventional special teams wisdom, a punter should consistently average 42 yards in the air and a 4.5 hangtime. So that’s one thing I’ll be following tonight. LET THE BATTLE BEGIN!

Afternoon Practice Updates, and Durant Brooks Not At War

Some notable moments from the afternoon session of training camp.

  • The defensive line looks energized — Jason Taylor was running around impressively during 9-on-9 drills, and Andre Carter got a great bat-down on a Jason Campbell checkdown pass.
  • Laron Landry made a nice downfield play to break up a good-looking pass, and Leigh Torrence has looked sharp all day, stepping in front of Anthony Mix to pick off a Campbell throw.
  • Rookie TE Fred Davis made a nice grab in traffic, easily the best thing he’s done while I was watching.
  • We got to see Coach Zorn’s semi-famous “dodge ball” drill, where the quarterbacks pelt each other with large silver exercise balls.  It was on the far field from where I was standing, but everyone involved seemed to be pretty enthusiastic.
  • The best play of the practice had to be Marcus Washington putting a hit on Clinton Portis during 11-on-11 drills, which brought a loud cheer from the players huddled under the Z-shade.  Washington afterward could be overheard saying, “I can’t help it, man, he’s running right at me….”

After practice, I caught up with Durant Brooks and tried to ask him about the ongoing heated battle between him and Derrick Frost.

Engaged in heated battle?

Engaged in heated battle?

“Yeah, that’s what everyone says – ‘heated,'” he said. It was clear he was having none of it. “I don’t feel like it’s heated competition. I mean, we aren’t badmouthing each other or anything like that.”

Nevertheless, I pressed on, asking if they’re REALLY getting along.

“Yeah, we get along. We talk to each other, share stories, eat with each other. It’s not a big deal. We don’t stay away from each other or try to do bad things.”

This disappointed me, and I told him so — that it would be a much more interesting competition if they were trying to light each other on fire or something. It was here that a crack of doubt finally appeared. Sort of. If you ignored the fact that he was laughing.

“I know, I know. I have that in the back of my mind that – you know some of the advice he might give me, I try to think about it two or three times before I do it, so there’s that.”

Next I’ll try to get Derrick Frost’s side of the story and see if it matches up.

Finally for the day, just to prove that the punters aren’t the only ones whose drills are TERRIFYINGLY THRILLING, here are the running backs doing blocking drills with an oversized punching bag.

(Posted at 5:40.)