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Brunell Begins Transition to New Offense

Mark Brunell has spent countless hours this offseason watching film and studying the offenses of the Kansas City Chiefs and St. Louis Rams of recent vintage.

Both the Chiefs and the Rams are known for high-powered, versatile offenses--and both teams were the previous two coaching stops of new Redskins' associate head coach-offense Al Saunders.

Starting this week, in Organized Team Activities (OTAs), Brunell begins to apply what he's learned and adjust to the schemes and terminology employed by Saunders.

Brunell is expected to enter the 2006 season as the Redskins' starting quarterback.

"We're learning a lot of new concepts," Brunell said after Tuesday's OTA practice. "We've spent a lot of time in the meeting room watching [film] of this offense in St. Louis and Kansas City. Any time anything is brand new, it takes a lot of time to get comfortable with it."

Brunell, entering his 14th NFL season, has worked in several different offenses throughout his career, including head coach Joe Gibbs' offense the last two years.

Both Saunders and Gibbs hail from the Don Coryell coaching tree and have an offensive philosophy that has its roots in the innovative, pass-oriented "Air Coryell" offense.

That foundation should help ease Brunell's transition.

Saunders's play-calling philosophy is aggressive, but it includes a solid mix of run and pass. He is expected to include more shifts and motions by running backs, tight ends and wide receivers.

Even though Brunell won't be among those players moving at the line of scrimmage, he will need to recognize the formations and know precisely where teammates are lining up.

"Last year, we became more of an aggressive offense because we were able to get the ball down the field," Brunell said.
"Obviously, the addition of Santana [Moss] helped us, with his speed and quickness and the way he plays. I expect that this offense will be more aggressive.

"We'll definitely try to get the ball in the hands of playmakers like Santana, Antwaan [Randle El] and Brandon [Lloyd]. Antwaan and Brandon will only help us that much more. It's exciting to have all those playmakers out there."

On Tuesday, the first day of OTA practices, Brunell and the new offense went up against the Redskins' defense for the first time this offseason. In OTAs, players are not permitted to wear pads or make contact with other players, but they can establish offensive sets and run plays.

After practice, Brunell mentioned several leaping catches by Lloyd as among the plays that stood out on Tuesday. Then, as Brunell spoke to media after practice, Randle El walked by and encouraged him to mention one of his spectacular grabs that afternoon.

Regarding Randle El and Lloyd, Brunell said: "Even before they got on the field here, I was really impressed with what they did in Pittsburgh and San Francisco. In just the short time that I've worked with them [in off-season workouts and OTAs], I can see that they're everything I've seen on film.

"Antwaan's a great athlete. Brandon--he's a guy who can really go up, get a ball and make a great catch. They seem to be great team guys and they have a great work ethic. I'm very impressed with those guys."

Brunell is coming off a season in which he helped guide the Redskins to the playoffs for the first time in six years. He started 15-of-16 regular-season games and completed 262-of-454 passes for 3,050 yards, 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. His QB rating was 85.9.

The addition of Randle El and Lloyd, to go along with Clinton Portis, Moss, Chris Cooley and David Patten, promises to make the Redskins' offense more dynamic next season.

Brunell cautioned against any expectations of instant success.

"It takes time to get good in any offense," Brunell said. "It takes time in the meeting rooms and time on the fields. How much we can progress in the next month, through the mini-camp and training camp--it remains to be seen. Hopefully by the time [the regular-season opener against] Minnesota rolls around, we'll be very comfortable and very efficient in this offense."

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