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Need to Know: Redskins training camp arrangement is wagging the dog

Jun 16, 2015, 5:03 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, June 16, the day the Washington Redskins start minicamp.

Wagging the dog

The Redskins announced their Richmond training camp schedule for 2015 and there is a significant change from the way they did things last year.

The full practices, the ones with pads and hitting and full speed action, will be held in the afternoon, most of them starting a 3 p.m. In the morning they will do a walkthrough. Last year they had the full practices at about 8:30 a.m. and the walkthroughs in the afternoon.

Redskins coach Jay Gruden liked having the heavy work in the morning, before the summer heat really started to bear down. He also liked the cycle of going over material during meetings at night and then getting on the field and practicing it in the morning. Richmond is also more like to see a line of thunderstorms roll through in the afternoon and it’s better to have a walkthrough lost to the weather than a full practice, which can’t be made up. Unlike Redskins Park, the Bon Secours training canter does not have an indoor practice facility.

It is believed that one of the reasons for the change is attendance at Bon Secours. Last year fans were showing up in large numbers in the morning for the more entertaining full practice. But since the walkthrough is as exciting to watch as growing grass, fans were not staying. With no reason for fans to stick around there were few people around to get lunch at the various concession stands that were set up inside and outside of the games. The city had a difficult time making its $500,000 payment to the Redskins.

So, it appears that the flipping of the practice times was done at least in part due to the financial arrangement the Redskins have with the city. The change happened even though last year’s schedule was probably best for football reasons.

The Redskins’ arrangement with Richmond nearly created another situation that was not in the best interest of the football operation. As of a couple of weeks ago, the Redskins did not have any joint practices with another NFL team scheduled. Why not?

“Well, last year, we practiced against New England because we played them Week 1 [of the preseason] at home,” Gruden said last week. “You know, this year we didn’t have that luxury. So it’s hard to get somebody to fly into Richmond and we couldn’t really go anywhere else because of our commitment to Richmond.”

Houston had previously arranged to practice against the Saints but when New Orleans cancelled, the Texans made the call and will be headed to Richmond. Had the Texans been able to stick with their original plan the Redskins would have been out of luck.

Joint practices are becoming very popular around the NFL; it seems that the majority of NFL teams are taking part in at least one. They give the team a chance to face unfamiliar players and break up the tedium of training camp.

So since the arrangement with Richmond, which calls for 15 days of practice to be held there, precludes the Redskins from visiting another team’s facility for practice is is turning what most teams believe is a valuable part of training camp into a “luxury”. Add that to the practice time changes and you have what should be football decisions being made, or at least influenced, by financial and other non-football factors.

Of course, it should work the other way around. There are some advantages to having training camp in Richmond but if we continue to see the tail wag the dog the Redskins would be better off terminating their agreement and going back to having their training camp at the team facility in Ashburn.


Today’s schedule: Minicamp practice 1 p.m.; defensive assistant coaches available after practice, approx. 2:45; Jay Gruden press conference after practice.

—It’s been 170 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 89 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 44; Preseason opener @ Browns 58

If you have any questions about what’s going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I’m always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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  1. mr.moneylover - Jun 16, 2015 at 7:10 AM

    Seem like redskins are stuck in a contract there not happy with…I believe if the redskins travel to somebody else training camp I think it will create a bond for players and coaches when you at home players get comfortable and sometimes get lazy when you on the road all you have is each other….if redskins have problem in Richmond I think the more likely hood redskins new stadium will be in DC or maryland

  2. Trey Gregory - Jun 16, 2015 at 7:30 AM

    This is so typical. I guess it’s an indication that maybe this team hasn’t changed as much as we all hoped it had.

  3. sidepull - Jun 16, 2015 at 7:44 AM

    When I first heard they were moving to Richmond I remember thinking Richmond? Really? Doesn’t sound good anyway you slice it. Except for the food vendors who will be cooking themselves inside those trucks. Hope the players stay hydrated. Get out of Richmond. Come back north. Experiment over.

  4. renhoekk2 - Jun 16, 2015 at 8:36 AM

    Imagine that. The city wants something in return for $500,000 they paid.

  5. gonavybeatarmy - Jun 16, 2015 at 8:57 AM

    The Redskins under this owner were, are and always will be a marketing company that just happens to play football. The football part of it is just a commodity. Marketing is all the owner knows, and sucking every last dollar out of the operation will always be his default tactic. He’ll put the politician Allen out there who has minimal credibility as his high priced PR mouthpiece to announce things like the Richmond deal. But it’s always the owner behind the scenes pulling the strings and figuring out how to make an extra buck.

    The Richmond deal that McCloughan and Gruden inherited from this owner inhibits the actual football people- Gruden and McCloughan- from doing something they acknowledge is beneficial to training camp and improving the team: scheduled training camp practices vs. other NFL teams. They will never be able to travel outside of the Richmond market to train against other NFL teams until the lucrative contract with the city has expired. They just got lucky this year that New Orleans backed out of its agreement to train with Houston. And Rich, your intuition is right. Anyone who has ever lived south of the Mason-Dixon Line knows that August afternoons are synonymous with thunderstorms.

    As a multi-generation season ticket holder I’m very sad to say that this fan base is dwindling, not primarily because of the wins and losses- which alone is pathetic- but because marketing will always supersede all other objectives with this organization under this owner. That is not to say that winning isn’t important to the owner. He wants to win. But he views the team as his personal ATM, something the previous great owner never did.

    I was beyond excited that McCloughan was hired, the first widely respected and admired personnel man this organization has had since Beathard. Not only does McCloughan have great personnel acumen, but he has the ability and reputation to change this organization’s pathetic culture. But it appears based on the afternoon practice switch that the owner will ultimately undermine him. It may not seem like a big deal- it’s not like forcing a trade or instructing the new GM to draft a certain player- but remember McCloughan was just hired a few months ago.

    As a side note, we came very close to not renewing our tickets. But ultimately figured we’d give it some time as we so admire McCloughan. In fact, we didn’t reach out to the ticket office despite receiving several calls and e-mails from them starting in March to renew until June. And guess what? The tickets were still available and they are located in a nice section. And this was after the team went through another offseason of ripping out thousands of seats from the stadium. The fan base is becoming less interested. As much as I despise the Ravens, everything Bisciotti does is about winning.

    Sorry everyone for being so long, so negative and taking up so much space. But my family and I, like you all, are serious fans. We want to believe that things are changing but the burden is on the owner to demonstrate that. And if he screws up the opportunity he has with we’re done- Skins fans to the core.

    • cowboyhater - Jun 16, 2015 at 9:31 AM

      One of the best written responses on here…..very well said. Just to add to this…..I have been a fan since ’78. A fan in every sense of the word fanatic. When I start looking for other things to do on football Sunday’s as was the case last year, then the words that were spoken in your response hold true for all hardcore Redskin fans.

    • hk2000 - Jun 16, 2015 at 10:37 AM

      I’m going to guess here, but this article infuriated you, right? Good job Rich!! I’m going to defend the team, not because I think very highly of anything they do, but because, ultimately, this is really not a huge deal.

      You may be right, but there is no proof that the owner was actually behind this. The team has A LOT of people in charge of these things, including Allen, to think that it must be the owner behind it, is just typical of us fans blaming him for everything bad that happens to the team. I agree with you on the marketing angle, but we know, the WHOLE NFL is about money, and to take it a step further, if you follow other teams the way you follow the Redskins, and really go after what those teams are doing, you’ll find Snyder is probably in the top 2 or 3 teams in terms of spending – not very wisely, I might add- and not pinching pennies. And if Richmond wants to improve their revenue from the whole venture, you can’t really blame them. I’m sure the team will find a facility to practice in when the weather turns ugly..

      A few more points to consider:
      When was the last time the Redskins had held a joint practice before last year’s? I personally don’t remember any. Besides, last year they practiced against the eventual SB champs, what was the result? In hind site, I’d say ditch the whole idea, especially against a team such as the Pats who are very unlikely to show you anything- and the results where not any better than all the years before. That’s one. Two, When are the games played in regular season? are they played in the morning when the weather is nice, and bodies are fresh from a good night sleep? No, they are played in mid day when the temps and humidity are at their worst, so practicing closer to actual game time cannot really be that bad. And three, This whole Tail Wagging article is a prime example of writers going after the drama generating buzz they seem to feel is necessary to keep swirling around this team.

      • cowboyhater - Jun 16, 2015 at 12:16 PM

        Not bitter at all….you didn’t really read “gonavybeatarmy” response. You need to really read it and understand what his point was. Same as Rich’s article. Plus you defending the team even though you contradicted yourself throughout your response is what we call the “blind homer”, which is refusing to see what has plagued this team since Snyder took over as an owner. If you are a real hard core fan you would be able to see that. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is what is termed as insanity. Bottom line things need to change or we as fans will witness the same result season after season. So if your happy with this team do the same thing over and over that’s fine, but we want change to see a better result.

        • bangkokben - Jun 16, 2015 at 12:41 PM

          They changed the practice schedule! Change enough? Or are you talking about somehow removing the owner which is in the realm of the impossible or tragic – not tragic to you but actual tragedy befalling the owner so that he no longer owns the team.

        • bangkokben - Jun 16, 2015 at 12:43 PM

          Seriously what is this change that needs to be made that you speak off. Of the 32 teams how many have changed ownership and of those how many has resulted in something positive?

        • hk2000 - Jun 16, 2015 at 12:55 PM

          You’re guilty of what you’re accusing me of. You did not read my response either, or you misunderstood it. Besides, the team started declining LONG BEFORE Snyder bought it. He just made it more profitable, but football wise, it continued on the same trajectory. Snyder has never been guilty of not spending enough which is the implication in statements like ” Marketing is all the owner knows, and sucking every last dollar out of the operation will always be his default tactic….” and ” ….But it’s always the owner behind the scenes pulling the strings and figuring out how to make an extra buck.” That describes every owner in the league, go look at other owners in depth , BEFORE you come back with an argument. Snyder is hardly the worst in this regard!!! The decline or continued failures of this team may have been caused by decisions he made- like hiring Vinny and keeping him in charge year after year, like signing big names in hopes of getting their reputation’s worth on the field, but he does want a winning team and was going about it the wrong way, but to say he only cares about money, regardless of the teams football accomplishments is simply not true. He may not have been smart about it, he made a lot of mistakes, he had the wrong people advising him on football decisions, all of that is true, but you two are insinuating he is naturally evil which is just ridiculous- his actions prove otherwise.

      • sidepull - Jun 16, 2015 at 12:42 PM

        You do know that even though game time is mid day and late afternoon, were talking about the fall and winter season. That’s not what they are going to be practicing in at all. June July and August temps around here are a lot different in the summer then your fall temps. Just not the same. Hot muggy and miserable unless your a lizard.

        • hk2000 - Jun 16, 2015 at 12:59 PM

          Well, yeah you’re right, but the beginning of the season isn’t really much different than training camp- weather wise. Besides, we always talk of building character and toughness, if the training is much tougher than the actual games, that can only provide more conditioning and make the game action much easier, don’t you think?

        • hk2000 - Jun 16, 2015 at 1:06 PM

          This also reminds me of something I’ve seen a lot during football games in cold weather, where one of the coaches is wrapped up in all kinds of winter gear (gloves, scarfs, over coat..etc) while the other is in a light jacket , and the game announcers kind of correlated the toughness of the latter to his teams performance… It may all be i in the head, but endurance goes along way in a sport like football.

        • redskinsnameisheretostay - Jun 17, 2015 at 10:18 AM

          sidepull, they are professional football players experiencing the temps and conditions that still don’t match what other teams play under. Think about Arizona, Houston, Miami, and even Atlanta. They’d trade Richmond conditions in a heartbeat.

      • madness16 - Jun 16, 2015 at 7:14 PM

        I remember in the 90s when the Skins would host the Steelers for scrimmages during training camp at Carlisle, but of course The Danny had to change that so he could line his pockets out of the gate. The thing that frustrates me to this day is when The Danny took over the team he commented on how much of a fan of the Skins he was, well apparently he wasnt the 400 level RFK kind of fan that would get there at 5 AM and tailgate because that was one of the first things he tried to get rid of. The culture changed as soon as he took over, and all this crap just reminds me of the kind of owner Snyder is, absentee.

      • redskinsnameisheretostay - Jun 17, 2015 at 10:15 AM

        That was a very passionate, profound, yet inaccurate comment. If Snyder had his way we’d be in the most luxurious stadium in the NFL that would be unmatched for decades. Snyder is not the wisest owner when it comes to front office personnel to say the least. However, I believe he’ll cap on the salary and give the fans the greatest experience possible if he had his way. He’s not sucking every last dollar out of the operations and closer to putting in every last dollar into it.

    • bangkokben - Jun 16, 2015 at 12:56 PM


      I respect your concerns and share them to a degree. I will offer you an alternative. It may or may not be Snyder but just as likely this is a Bruce Allen deal. Team president that set this thing up in the first place. The Redskins got what they wanted in a facility that suits their needs in the heart of Redskin nation away from home. Richmond isn’t getting what it wanted. The place which was suppose to bring revenue for the city is in many ways a white elephant. This is the Redskins making good on a deal – good for the city of Richmond not for Redskin football operations.

      *This is purely conjecture written by someone with very little knowledge of the situation.

  6. timwillhidetimwillhide - Jun 16, 2015 at 10:10 AM

    Bring the team back to Carlisle, Pa. Or even 10 minutes south of Carlisle and have Training Camp in Shippensburg, Pa. Shippensburg University definitely has the facilities and the feilds to do it.

  7. bangkokben - Jun 16, 2015 at 10:45 AM

    Thanks Rich for the article. Sadly, I come to the same conclusions.

  8. ajbus1 - Jun 16, 2015 at 1:29 PM

    I’m not convinced morning walkthroughs and afternoon practices are a bad thing. There’s good and bad reasons for both schedules from a football standpoint.

  9. kenlinkins - Jun 16, 2015 at 6:09 PM

    Well, so much for the idea that all the story’s written by Rich are approved by the Redskins PR department before hand! Please keep up the good work, it is nice to know that I can trust that you believe what you write (even if you are not always correct) and the words / ideas are your own! Archives

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