At Redskins Park, in Ashburn, Va., the year-round training ground for Washington, in the flight path of nearby Dulles Airport a half-hour from the city. It's a mini-Snyderville, with a field of tents set up behind the building for the big-wig sponsors and banners ringing the backside of the building (Toyota, FedEx, MasterCard, etc.). Fans park outside the complex and walk in, and this morning, the first practice day of camp for the full squad, about 1,000 (mostly sedate) fans come to stand on one side of the main practice field to watch the show.
I long for the days of camp in Carlisle, Pa., at Dickinson College, where there was much more fan/player interaction (although, to be fair, I think
"There's no question it has to help him,'' Zorn told me. "He's a more comfortable player and it shows in everything he does.'' I'm writing about Campbell for the magazine next week, and he had some interesting things to say about an off-season that had the Redskins looking to deal for
Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. When Haynesworth was talking to the Redskins, he wanted to be sure of one thing: He wouldn't have to change his style of play. The Titans allowed him to penetrate and attack the backfield over the last seven years. Under Blache, the Washington tackles have been more read, hold the fort, and then react and attack.
"If I was going to come here, I wanted to make sure they'd let me be me,'' Haynesworth told me. "I wasn't coming here to change my style and be one of those 'read' guys. But they said they wanted me to play my game, and so that made my decision easier.
Traditionally, Blache's tackles mostly stay at home and set up plays for the rest of the defense, but he said he'd never had a tackle like Haynesworth. "We've always had things in our playbook for tackles like Albert to play, but we didn't have that guy. So we weren't going to force it.'' Now we'll see if Haynesworth can play a full season and anchor a defense very much in need of a big playmaker. He's only done that once in seven previous NFL years.
With my SI.com road crew --
Happened to mention to
I'm in danger now of setting the bar so ridiculously high for food on this trip that I'll regret it later, but here goes. This is a Persian place, with all Iranian specialties. I chose the beef gyro, with a side of cucumber/tomato salad. The gyro was to die for. Tender and spicy meat (I added more spicy cucumber sauce) with onions, lettuce and tomato, in a pillowy pita. Add a SoBe black current water, and grading this place was simple.
Overall grade: A.
I asked the owner why he called it Moby Dick House of Kebab.
"Because you ask,'' he said in a thick Middle Eastern accent.
"I don't understand,'' I said. "Why?''
"The attention! The attention! Everyone is curious!''