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Redskins Stay in Town for Training Camp

July 27, 2003

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) _ The Washington Redskins are back in town, this time without the circus. For only the second time in team history, the Redskins are staying home for training camp, and they are determined to avoid the distractions and ridicule that marred the first attempt three years ago.

``I think that was a different environment three years ago,″ coach Steve Spurrier said. ``It was sort of a circus atmosphere with the rides for the kids and all that. We’re just practicing here.″

Players reported for their first meetings Sunday afternoon, with the first practice at Redskins Park set for Monday morning.

``I’m excited about being home,″ linebacker Jeremiah Trotter said. ``You get to see your kids, even if it’s only 15 to 20 minutes. It helps me to see them every day.″

Owner Dan Snyder brought camp home in 2000, and it was a failure on all counts. He was roundly criticized for becoming the first NFL owner to charge _ $10 to park and $10 admission _ just to watch practice. Under league rules, it was a policy that allowed scouts from other teams to by a ticket to watch and get an early scoop on the Redskins players.

Snyder also erected bleachers and set up an NFL Experience activity area. The distractions hindered the development of chemistry among the players, and the star-studded team went a disappointing 8-8.

The team held camp at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., last year in Spurrier’s first season, but the coach consistently questioned the need to go away for camp. Thus the return to Redskins Park, but this time the parking and admission are free, and the bleachers and games are gone.

``It’ll be more comfortable, with less distractions, doing it right here,″ Spurrier said.

Instead of staying at a hotel, as they did three years ago, the players are being hunkered down in a sterile, high-security section of the National Conference Center, where they’ll have to take a shuttle just to get to their own cars. The place looks almost too pristine for the grittiness of football, and it’s hard to imagine the decorative sea shells on the dining tables lasting more than a day or two.

Instead of driving to Redskins Park for practice, the players will travel in buses that adhere to a tight schedule. There’s little time for anything but football.

However, some things haven’t changed from last year. Spurrier, despite his self-proclaimed commitment to pay more attention to the defense, struggled on Sunday to name his first-string defensive line _ totally overlooking free-agent signing and projected starter Brandon Noble.

Spurrier also said his primary goal is the same as it was last year: win the NFC East. Last year’s 7-9 record was unacceptable for a coach so used to winning.

``What I learned is that you lose in the NFL the same way you lose in high school, in college and Pop Warner,″ Spurrier said. ``If you have more turnovers or you’re in the bottom of the league in turnovers, your chances aren’t very good. (Also) if you can’t punt the ball or get it off, if you can’t kick field goals, if you’re juggling quarterbacks. ... And you can’t throw it unless you have solid pass protection.″

Spurrier also realized he needed better players. An offseason spending spree has the team loaded with speed at receiver, and the offensive line looks solid. Unlike last year, the coach feels his team is essentially intact headed into camp.

``We believe that we’ve put together a better team, a stronger team,″ Spurrier said. ``Hopefully we’ll be much smarter, and we’ll coach better. Certainly we know we can improve in our coaching.″

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