When Joe Gibbs began restocking the Redskins' roster this offseason, he vowed to fill it with as many Redskins-type players as possible. He sought players who exude professionalism, high character, toughness and talent.
To hear Gibbs tell it, he may have found the prototypical Redskin in wide receiver James Thrash.
The seven-year veteran, who played his first four NFL seasons in Washington, has returned to the Redskins after a three-year stint with the Philadelphia Eagles. Thrash, 29, joins a group of receivers that comprises arguably the deepest unit on the team.
At the Redskins' mini-camp in June, Gibbs discussed the addition of Thrash and his strong character and work ethic.
"That guy has figured it out," Gibbs said. "That guy will give you everything he's got on every play, and he will play every minute that it's possible for him to play."
Thrash strives to act professionally in everything that he does, whether running routes in practice, signing autographs for fans after a grueling training camp workout, or mentoring some of the younger Redskin receivers.
"Even in drills, I go as hard as I can and try to get the most out of everything that I'm doing," Thrash said.
Thrash has earned a reputation as one of the more popular Redskins--both among teammates and fans.
"Thrash brings a positive attitude to the team," fellow wide receiver Rod Gardner said. "Whatever you ask him to do, he's out there running 100 miles per hour, full speed. You can't ask any more out of James Thrash."
Thrash made such a good impression during his first tenure with the Redskins that Gibbs jumped at the chance to reacquire him. Before Gibbs decided to pursue Thrash, who the Redskins acquired by trading a draft pick to the Eagles, Gibbs sought the advice of Director of Sports Medicine Bubba Tyer. Tyer was with the Redskins during Thrash's first go-round with the team and was well aware that the "Redskin" label applied to the veteran.
Said Gibbs: "When [Thrash's] name came up, I went through the entire organization and went to Bubba. I said, 'Bubba, what do you think about James Thrash?' He turned around and said, 'He's a Redskin, I'll tell you what he is.'"
Tyer recounted how Thrash was injured one week and even though he was a starter, he still ran the other team's plays in practice. His toughness and durability is also illustrated by the fact that he started 54 of Philadelphia's 55 games over the last three seasons, including three NFC championship games.
"[The praise] means a lot, especially coming from a coach who has had the success that he had and that has been around guys like Charles Mann, Darrell Green, Art Monk," Thrash said. "Those guys knew what it took to be a true professional both on and off the field."
Thrash's speed makes him a viable threat as a pass-catcher and returning kicks. Thrash led all Eagles receivers last season with 49 catches for 558 yards and one touchdown, and he finished sixth in the NFL averaging 24.0 yards per kick return.
In returning to Washington, Thrash said he is a "more seasoned" football player now.
"As far as running routes, I have a better idea of what it takes to be successful and make things happen on the field both as a receiver and on special teams," he said.
As the oldest Redskins receiver, Thrash plans to use his experience to help the team's talented but young corps of receivers.
"[The group of receivers] is so talented," he said. "It's great to be around guys who can really play. Even the young guys are playing well. It's exciting to be a part of something like that because we really push each other. That is what this league is all about--giving your best."
Thrash's approach of playing hard and acting as a professional every day has kept him in the league for seven years--and he's not about to change.
"I set daily goals for myself," he said. "When you look too far ahead, especially in this league where you can be here today and gone tomorrow, you lose focus if you're not obtaining those goals. I set little goals each day, like to just come out here and get better every day. As long as I'm doing that, I think everything will play out."