Joe Gibbs walked out the back door of Redskins Park by himself and started to lightly jog past a group of photographers to the practice fields. In the distance, fans started to applaud. Others shouted out, "Welcome back, Joe!"
That's how training camp started for the Redskins and their legions of fans, some of whom arrived at Redskins Park as early as 5:45 a.m. Gates opened at 8 a.m. About 5,000 fans were in attendance.
As much as fans were anticipating the first practice, coaches and players were also looking forward to the start of training camp even more. The coaching staff was at Redskins Park late last night fine-tuning the details of training camp. The Saturday morning practice was the first time coaches had worked with their players in full pads.
"I think everybody was anticipating the first day," said Joe Bugel, assistant head coach-offense. "We wanted it to be perfect and the team responded so well. The attitude out here is magnificent."
The first training camp practice was full of spirited play and plenty of instruction. Players wore full pads. Following a special teams session led by coach Danny Smith, the players broke up with their position coaches for drills. After a series of 7-on-7 drills, the team concluded the two-hour practice with a brief scrimmage.
Gibbs praised the players' work ethic and attitude, but added that the overall play was somewhat "rough."
"It's the first time we've gone one-on-one, center trying to move and make a block--it's totally different from what we've done before [at mini-camps]," Gibbs said. "That's why I say you don't know a football team until you put on the pads and start hitting somebody."