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News & Notes: Shanahan 'Pleased' With Team's Progress

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On July 29, the Redskins opened training camp with plenty of excitement surrounding the arrival of head coach Mike Shanahan and quarterback Donovan McNabb.

There were also plenty of questions.

Who starts at free safety? Will Albert Haynesworth show up and perform? Who makes up the wide receiver corps after Santana Moss? What is the running back rotation?

Some questions have been answered. (Kareem Moore is the front-runner at safety. Haynesworth appears on board with the defense for now.)

Some questions will be decided in the remaining preseason games. (Wide receiver corps is still uncertain. Nothing has been decided between Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson and Willie Parker.)

Overall, Shanahan said he was "pleased" with the Redskins' progress during training camp.

"Our goal was to get better each day and I think we have been able to do that," he said. "That's what you are looking for. If you have a chance to get better each day and people are out there competing, you feel like you have a chance to get to your final goal. It's a long process."

His starting quarterback was not quite as happy with his performance in camp, though.

McNabb, like each of the quarterbacks on the roster, had good days and bad days in camp.

"I'm very hard on myself, very critical of what I do out on the field," he said. "I've been through this when you're just learning a new scheme and the ins and outs and ups and downs that you may have. How to overcome it? I definitly know how. I think the thing that helps is stepping out into game situations where you are game planning and seeing a new defense and you can play your style.

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"I go up and watch myself [on film] without coaches around and things of that nature. I think you have to be critical by watching yourself. Am I pleased with where I'm at? No, because I want to be where I was when I was in the same offense and being able to have full command."

The Redskins' offense is -- at he very least -- headed in the right direction, though.

In the Redskins' 42-17 preseason win over the Buffalo Bills last Friday, the offense racked up 352 yards and did not turn the ball over once.

McNabb shook off early nerves and was sharp leading the offense to a touchdown late in the first quarter.

Another storyline of camp was the defense's transition to a 3-4 scheme.

Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett is aided by a veteran group of players, including Phillip Daniels, London Fletcher and DeAngelo Hall, among others.

Coaches have emphasized forcing turnovers all offseason and it continued into training camp.

Results?

In the Bills game, the Redskins had two interceptions, one by DeAngelo Hall and the other by Lendy Holmes.

Hall's interception and subsequent 30-yard return set up the Redskins' third touchdown.

"In this league, you average 10 to 11 possessions on offense a game," Haslett said. "If you can get three turnovers, that gives your offense 14 and that gives the team you're playing against eight. So you have a better chance of winning some games if you get turnovers.

"That's our number one goal: create turnovers, get the ball out, interceptions, fumbles. That's what we're trying to do."

Apart from Malcolm Kelly's lingering hamstring injury, the Redskins completed training camp without any significant injuries.

Jammal Brown missed time due to hip soreness and Albert Haynesworth was sidelined off and on due to knee soreness and hydration issues.

"It starts with the off-season conditioning program," Shanahan said. "I think when you have a good offseason, you're hoping that you can limit some injuries. And if guys do get injured they can come back a little quicker because they're in good shape.

"I think that has paid dividends and hopefully we will be a little lucky through the rest of the preseason and stay away from some injuries."


-- TRAINING CAMP AT REDSKINS PARK

Mike Shanahan has said several times in the last three weeks that he has enjoyed holding training camp at Redskins Park, the team's year-round facility.

"It's worked out pretty well here," Shanahan said. "We've got everyone staying within two miles of the facility [at a hotel]. It is like a camp for them."

Shanahan remarked that ending camp at the year-round facility had a different feel than ending camp at a college or university. Instead of the entire team busing hundreds of miles back to Northern Virginia, players just got in their cars and drove a few miles home.

"The players are glad the 2-a-days are over with, I can guarantee that," he added. "They go back to a normal schedule where they are actually practicing the same way that you would actually practicing during the season.

"They get a lot less time in mini's and a lot more time on the field. So their bodies are going to feel a little bit of pressure."


-- DOUBLE TIME FOR STARTERS

The Redskins' first-teamers on offense and defense are expected to play between 30-35 plays in this Saturday's preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens.

That means starters could play late into the second quarter of the game.

"We will throw them in there and see how it plays out," Mike Shanahan said. "It all depends on how many plays there are in the game."

Larry Johnson is expected to start at running back, but Clinton Portis is still going to play, Shanahan added.

"Clinton will play in certain situations," he said. "He will get a chance to play."


-- KELLY ABSENT

Wide receiver Malcolm Kelly was not on the practice fields on Thursday.

"He had some personal things to take care of," Mike Shanahan said.

Kelly has not participated in practice since the second day of training camp. He has been slowed by a lingering hamstring injury.

It's unlikely that Kelly will play in this Saturday night's game.

"When players don't practice, there's a good chance they won't play," Shanahan said, "especially if they haven't practiced one time."

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