With organized offseason workouts in the books and a little more than a month before the start of training camp, Redskins players are in a critical period of the NFL calendar.
On the one hand, this is the team's first extended vacation from the team facility since the middle of April. Given the grind of training camp into the regular season, this is the last time players will have free time until the Bye week in early November.
On the other hand, this is the last opportunity for players to prepare their minds and bodies for the upcoming season--the option that head coach Mike Shanahan expects his players to choose.
"I think relative to veterans, you’ve got four-and-a-half to five weeks [off] and with the rookies you’ve got until July 16," he explained. "It’s a long time, and you’re asking everybody to be accountable."
Shanahan praised his team for showing up to offseason workouts in good shape and working hard during their time at Redskins Park. As a show of good faith, he canceled the final mini-camp practice last Thursday in favor of a team-bonding day.
"We’ve got a team that’s pretty accountable," he said. "We’ve got guys that are really working hard. We had almost every one of our guys come in excellent shape to our preseason this year. We hardly had anybody that was out of shape, and that’s really a good sign."
With the influx of 21 draft picks, 27 free agents and 15 undrafted rookies in the last two years, training camp competitions should be at an all-time high under Shanahan.
With more quality options available than ever before, Shanahan anticipates tough roster decisions at multiple positions, including defensive back, tight end, running back and receiver.
"People know that we’ve got a lot of competition," he said. "You better come in shape, because if you don’t, you aren’t going to make the football team."