New Redskin Shawn Springs has been slowed by a knee injury and hasn't been able to take part in this weekend's mini-camp sessions at Redskin Park. Still, the former Seattle Seattle cornerback has seen enough of Gregg Williams' defense to get excited about its possibilities.
"With this defense, a cornerback will earn his money," said Springs, still recovering from a bone bruise in his foot suffered in the Seattle-Green Bay playoff game last January. "You're out there one-on-one a lot, and this is a defense that gets pressure from a lot of vantage points.
"LaVar, Marcus Washington, some of the big guys inside like Cornelius Griffin and Phillip Daniels. This is a defense that can pressure from a lot of spots."
The net result of the Redskins' off-season moves is that Springs is the guy called upon to replace Champ Bailey at cornerback, playing opposite Fred Smoot.
"Champ brought excellence to the east coast and he was a four-time Pro Bowler, and I'll bring that same type of attitude and intensity to my game," said Springs, the 6-0, 204-pound seven-year NFL veteran out of Ohio State. "But what it comes down to is that we have to show it. With all the attention that comes to us, we still have to prove it on the field."
Springs grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland; his father Ron played for the rival Dallas Cowboys as a running back in the years 1979-1984.
Selected by Seattle with the third overall pick in the 1997 NFL draft, Springs made the Pro Bowl in 1998 and saw post-season action with Seattle in 1999 and last year.
When the Redskins needed a replacement for Bailey following the Clinton Portis trade, their first target was Springs. The team landed him on the second day of free agency.
Said Gregg Williams, assistant head coach for the defense: "I've watched a lot of tape on him over the years and he has some veteran leadership and experience. We're letting him rest a little bit right now because he's played a lot of football and I need to take a look at some of the other young guys right now.
"I like the fact that Shawn has been an aggressive hitter as a corner. Sometimes corners get that reputation that they can hit. Let me tell you, our corners are going to hit."
Springs says the mode around coach Joe Gibbs' first mini-camp has been one of a family, almost collegiate, atmosphere.
"That's the way he won in the past," said Springs. "Players have to put aside their egos. Coach Gibbs is one of those old-school coaches but at the same time he's very personable, the type of person you can talk to. That's the thing about this entire coaching staff--they're so detail-oriented."
Springs knows there'll be a lot of media focus on the team this season. On the first day of mini-camp on Friday, Springs said he looked around Redskins Park and noticed the huge media gathering for Gibbs' return to the coaching field.
"I was telling one of my teammates, this is unbelievable and unreal with all this media attention," he said, smiling. "It actually feels like I'm finally in the league. All of this media attention is very surprising to me."