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Springs Returns With a Renewed Passion

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On Saturday, the day before his first training camp as Redskins head coach, Jim Zorn was asked to pinpoint the positions at which the Redskins are expected to see the most competition in this year's camp.

Zorn's list included cornerback. Shawn Springs and Fred Smoot are the headliners, with Carlos Rogers returning from injury.

Springs, the leader of the group, this offseason was not 100 percent sure that he would be returning for his fifth season in Washington. Retirement was on his mind.

Springs did his part to give the cornerback situation a lift on Sunday. The 12-year veteran was on hand at Redskins Park after being away from the facility for the offseason.

Asked if team officials knew he was considering not coming back, Springs had this to say following the Redskins' first practice session on a steamy Sunday morning: "I think they kind of had an idea. I was in close contact with my agent, and they talked, and they knew."

Eventually, Springs made the decision to return to the game, even though it's been an extremely difficult offseason for him.

His father's deteriorating health situation long has been the utmost concern. Ron Springs remains in a Texas hospital.

On why he decided to come back despite all he went through this offseason, Springs said. "I love football. I grew up here and obviously my father being a professional football player, when I start playing with my boys, they're at the age now where they're really competitive and want to play sports.

"It reminds me of how I was with my father. So that got me ready to come back. And you know what, I'm excited about football. This is what I do."

Springs' enduring enthusiasm for the game is good news for the Redskins.

When he's on top of his game, Shawn Springs is still one of the best cover corners in the game.

For example, you could make a case that Springs' interception and 53-yard return late in the second quarter of the game against the Bears did as much as any single play to give the Redskins a late-season boost.

Now in his 12th season, Springs is looking forward to making similar big plays for the Redskins in 2008.

Springs missed the OTA sessions this spring but he continued to work out in Arizona, where he lives in the offseason.

He watched the arrival of new head coach Jim Zorn from afar.

"I feel good about camp," he said. "I'm excited. Every time you have change as a veteran guy you get to see where you stand. I'm excited because we have a new coach in Jim Zorn and I want to see how our team turns out this year."

Asked about the pace of the first training camp session, Springs said: "The tempo is a little faster. Obviously, Coach Zorn has been with Coach [Mike] Holmgren in the West Coast system. They bring their high tempo, so as a defense you need to get set a little quicker. It seems like practice is a little quicker."

Springs has a new hobby, boxing, which he explains is a different way to motivate him to get in shape.

"It just helps me to stay in shape without overly killing my legs," he said.


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