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Some Players Getting a Head Start On Camp

It's mid-July. Redskins players don't report for training camp until July 30. So you'd think players would be on vacation, relaxing before the start of grueling two-a-days and six months of all football, all the time.

On the morning of Thursday, July 20, quite a few Redskins players were at Redskins Park.

What are they doing here?

"I just did some cardio work," running back Rock Cartwright said during an interview with Triple X ESPN Radio's Larry Michael and Bram Weinstein on Thursday. "I did some running and caught some balls with Jason [Campbell]. I'm just getting ready for training camp and making sure I'm in shape."

Fullback Mike Sellers also spent time working with Campbell. On the team's Astroturf field, Sellers ran short routes into the flat and turned to catch passes from the second-year quarterback.

Meantime, across the field, a group of players ran sprints under the watch of strength and conditioning coaches.

Said Cartwright: "I think guys are just excited to come in and ready to get things rolling again. We've been away almost five to six weeks [since the end of June mini-camp]. It's getting close and you can tell the football vibe is around here again. We want to do something special this season."

During the last five weeks, since the end of the June 16-18 mini-camp, most players have checked in at Redskins Park at one time or another.

Campbell has been working at Redskins Park for several weeks, gearing up for training camp and the preseason. He is expected to see the bulk of action at quarterback during preseason games.

"I've been here a lot, staying in shape," he said. "I'm working on getting the ball out quickly when I throw and making sure I stay in a rhythm. Those are the main things for quarterbacks going into training camp."

Campbell also faces the task of learning the offense of new associate head coach-offense Al Saunders. He works with new quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor, who is also on hand at Redskins Park daily.

Campbell says the new offense is more timing-based and that it requires the quarterback to release the ball quickly on pass play.

"The receivers need to run good routes and get in and out of cuts quickly--and I need to get the ball to them quickly," he said. "Everything is timing. If you're a second behind, there could be an interception or a bad play."

Who else was at Redskins Park?

Young players like offensive linemen Jim Molinaro and Jonta Woodard and defensive back Curry Burns worked out. All three players hope to make an impression in training camp and earn a roster spot.

Players returning from injury are often regulars at the team's training facility during the offseason. They require treatment from athletic trainers, who monitor their rehabilitation.

Guard Randy Thomas is returning from a fractured fibula suffered in Week 15 last December. He feels confident that the injury is fully healed, but he acknowledges that he won't know for sure until he puts on the pads and starts hitting and blocking.

"I'm taking it day-to-day," Thomas said in a radio interview earlier in the week. "I feel pretty good. It's hard to say how I'll be doing when we start physical contact, but I think I'll be fine. I just have to see how it reacts."

Thomas was in the midst of a Pro Bowl-caliber season when he sustained the injury in Week 15. He feels the team's success last season has helped rejuvenate his career.

"I've been able to strengthen my legs [this offseason] and concentrate on the things that got me [to the NFL]," he added. "So I actually think I'll be a little faster this year. I think I'll be fine. In the back of your mind, you're always going to think about the injury. But the only thing that has to happen is I have to get out there and play."

Another offensive lineman returning from injury is center Casey Rabach. Last March, Rabach suffered a leg injury in what he described to be a freak accident with an ATV at his home.

Rabach believed he was fully healed in early May, but there was some swelling during off-season work. He was limited during the June mini-camp.

"It's probably 99 percent right now," Rabach said. "It was giving me a hard time just healing up. It's on the right track now. I'll be ready to go when training camp starts."

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