- Two of the most interesting things from this afternoon’s practice — under a blazing hot sun — were basically cosmetic. The first was Santana Moss‘s hair, blown out of its usual cornrows for the day. “Let it breathe a little bit. Nothing special, but sometimes you just got let it go natural,” he said.
- Second was the flip in uniform colors, the offense wearing red and the defense white for the first time. “The offense will wear the color we’re wearing on Sunday,” Coach Zorn said.
- Carlos Rogers is looking a bit better with each practice. Today he showed some good closing speed on a pass to Maurice Mann where he appeared to have been beaten (although the subsequent knockdown would probably have been called pass interference), and he also got in between Devin Thomas and a Colt Brennan pass for an interception.
- Billy McMullen seems to have stumbled a bit in the WR race over the last couple of days, dropping passes that are hitting his hands and generally looking a step or two slow, like he’s nursing an injury or something. So that hypothetical sixth wide receiver spot seems to still be very much up for grabs.
- One of the Z-shades blew over in a sudden gust of wind right into the players standing on the sideline, flattening Horace Gant and generally startling everyone.
- Kareem Moore looked lively out there, getting some reps with the first team defense, hitting a little bit (and earning a rebuke from Maurice Mann for maybe being a bit TOO lively) and running out every play. “Just trying to get better, man,” he said. “The whole thing is to try to make sure you don’t make the same mistake twice.”
- Coach Zorn’s gave updates on a couple of the recovering injured players. On Laron Landry: “We’re going to have to wait for maybe even another week. The good news is, he’s a veteran, and he understands the defense. But when he plays, he plays recklessly and at full speed, so he needs to be completely healed.”
- And on Malcolm Kelly: “He’s taken a step forward with each practice.” Today, he ran a number of deep routes, not making any cuts yet, but looked good in the straightaway. Zorn said he doesn’t expect Kelly to be ready to play this week, though.
Because the Redskins produce the preseason games in-house, I thought this might offer a good opportunity to watch the entire production of a game, from the work done in the week running up to it all the way through to the actual broadcast itself. It’s the kind of thing I won’t necessarily be able to do in the regular season, as those games are produced by the network, and there’s no guarantee they’d be interested in having me follow along.
Brad Baker is the producer of the preseason games, and although I haven’t asked whether he’s fully INTERESTED in having me follow, he’s at least agreed to it.
Brad is a graduate of the North Carolina School of the Arts School of Filmmaking. He got his start as a development assistant in L.A. with the producer of the Rush Hour franchise, moved back to the actual video production side of things at Expert Insight, and began working with sports TV production at the NFL Network.
“I had wanted to get a full time job there, and they didn’t have anything. They asked if I wanted to produce some highlights, but I didn’t want to work on Sundays, because I didn’t want to not be able to be at home watching football. And they said, “Well, lucky you, because we’re doing this college football show,” so I was able to work there on Saturdays.”
Working at NFLN, he found that football and production was a perfect marriage for his skills, which brought him to the Redskins as a producer last year.
“I produced Redskins Late Night all last season,” he says, “and I won an Emmy for my work on the Sean Taylor memorial video ‘Remembering 21’.” This preseason’s Bills game marked his entry into the production of live broadcasts.
As usual in situations like this, I’m happy to bring any questions you have to the people involved. So if there’s anything you’re interested in knowing about broadcasting a live NFL game — if you have any questions for Brad, or Mike Patrick and Joe Theismann — please let me know, either via email or in the comments.
This is scheduled to be a light day around the Park, and deservedly so. Coach Zorn is holding a press conference around 12:30, and other than that … not much is scheduled. Players aren’t coming in, no practices … this should be a chance for everyone to recover from the first road trip.
Which makes sense, considering the hectic pace following last night’s game. The final gun sounded at almost exactly 11:00. “The bus will leave in one hour, no matter who is or isn’t on it,” I was told. I don’t think anyone was left behind, but it wasn’t too long after midnight that the buses pulled away from the Hall. At the point, we had already cleared a full airport security screening, set up as we left the building.
From there it was about fifteen minutes or so to the airport, where the team plane waited on the tarmac. (The team plane is a chartered commercial Boeing 757, for those who asked.) The plane took off within ten minutes of our boarding, and landed back in the DC area at around 1:30. From there, we loaded back onto buses and arrived at Redskins Parks sometime near 2:00. At that point, the players left for their hotel, some staffers departed for their homes, and the rest went into the Park to start this supposedly light workday. At two in the morning.
The general consensus on last night’s game seemed to be that it didn’t mean TOO much, being a preseason game, but that a number of the rookies made good showings, and that even in preseason it’s more fun to win than to lose. Which I imagine makes heading into the office at two in the morning a little more palatable for people. I can’t wait to hear what Coach Zorn has to say about it.
- I’m just going to be honest here: the inflatable Hall of Fame helmet the players are running out of may be looking a little ragged around the edges. The colors are fading, the logo is looking a little worn … might be time to replace that thing.
- Jason Campbell is wearing some nifty yellow Nikes that are worth mentioning. Do they have uniform violation fines in preseason?
- The referees are wearing white pants with black stripes down the side. Frank Hanrahan, Redskins beat reporter for ESPN 980, is emphatically insisting that these pants are updated – the white is the same, he claims, but the stripes are new.
- One pass into the Jim Zorn era and Chris Cooley’s prediction about catching 8 yards passes has come true. Not much running after the catch yet, but it’s early.
- The first one minute and seventeen seconds of the Jim Zorn era certainly went as well as anyone could’ve wanted. Chris Cooley and the starting offense are now doing exactly what he hoped for.
- Predictably, I did a TERRIBLE job not cheering in the press box for that touchdown. That was embarrassing.
- The best thing about not being able to see a TV right now is that I don’t have to hear regular updates on Brett Favre’s plane – and when I do hear about them, they’re not coming from John Madden.
- Colts in the no-huddle, because it’s important to keep the defense on their heels in the preseason.
- The pressbox announcer just looked at the wrong roster for that sack of Jason Campbell, attributing it to Redskins DT Mathias Askew. Someone behind me observed that while it would be a really depressing accomplishment for the Redskins to physically sack themselves, there have been times in the not-too-distant past when it didn’t seem impossible.
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.
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!