By Jason Gould
The running theme among Redskins players and coaches during the past two weeks has been the chemistry that seems to have developed within the team in a short period of time. Washington wrapped up its second week of coaching sessions at Redskin Park Thursday morning.
"I haven't sensed this kind of camaraderie since I was in college," linebacker LaVar Arrington said. "The team has good morale. The one single factor about this year is the guys communicate away from the field. Sometimes that's overlooked. Guys are hanging out together. We eat together. Friendships are built away from the locker room. That is more evident with our team this year than in past years."
Said quarterback Patrick Ramsey: "I've never been on a team that's this close on and off the field. Everybody gets along really well away from the practice facility. And on the field, everybody respects how good everyone else is. Everyone takes a lot of pride in what they do."
After the team had a mini-camp in early May that included five practices, the Redskins have held eight coaching sessions over the past two weeks. Washington is scheduled to have six more practices in early June.
"The players have a wonderful attitude," head coach Steve Spurrier said. "They're very acceptable to coaching. We don't have anyone here who thinks he knows it all. So it's a fun group to coach."
The team's practices over the past two weeks also have allowed the players to gain a comfort level with each other on the field. Quarterback Patrick Ramsey, slated to be the team's starter in 2003, has taken almost 75 percent of the snaps with the first-team offense, according to Spurrier, with Rob Johnson taking the remaining reps.
"The chemistry is coming along naturally," Spurrier said. "It's on pace. Patrick has a ways to go. He knows that. He's not as good as hopefully he's going to be come September. But he works at it. He's a hard worker. That's what gives him a chance to really be an outstanding player."
Said Ramsey: "My confidence is good. There are things that I need to do better. But I feel confident in my position and how I played this past mini-camp and during the coaching sessions."
Spurrier said he and the other Redskins coaches are making efforts to reverse the team's penchant for errors in 2002. Penalties and turnovers were a consistent problem for Washington last season.
In the team's recent practices, Spurrier said, players have been fined for things like dropped passes and offsides penalties. The money goes to a pot that will fund a player party sometime in the future.
Said Spurrier: "We're trying to get sharper, trying to be smarter. We put in a little fine for misdeeds.
"Hopefully we're making improvement. It's a long time before we play, so we don't need to speculate on how the team's going to do based on how we do in the coaching sessions. There's a lot to do before the regular season starts."