Nothing beats beginning again in sports.  Yes, championships are fun…and watching great players excel is pretty cool, but a new regime is like that new car.  It’s a smell you can’t recapture no matter how many memorable trips you make.  This month the Redskins will enjoy that new coach smell– just like they did with Marty Schottenheimer (CAMP MARTY!  Finally a coach with backbone!), Steve Spurrier (OSAKA!), Joe Gibbs II (Back to the 80’s!), Mike Shanahan (FINALLY– they’re doing things the right way!) and even Jim Zorn (hey-Gibbs was an unknown assistant TOO!).  Jay Gruden– you will never smell so good as you will this month.  Enjoy.

Week One Thoughts– the first key was no major injuries.  Desean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Phillip Thomas all have dealt with hamstring issues but nothing that would ruin the glow that is the Preseason.  Rob Jackson had his shoulder wrapped.  Jerry Rice Jr’s run at the roster ends with a torn labrum.  Nothing to see…nothing to see…move along.

2013’s Triumvirate splits– last year’s DB version of the receiving firm Davis, Kelly & Thomas is having three different second camps:  CB David Amerson is vastly improved from his rookie campaign, Phillip Thomas has been on the shelf here and there with injuries, and Bacarri Rambo is not living up to the coolest name on the team.  Par for the course when you consider the 2nd rounder is a likely starter in his second season…the 4th rounder is on the backup/special teams track and the 6th rounder is headed to the roster bubble.

Kicking Competition…and Punting Possibilities–  So much for connecting on 35 of 40 attempts over two years.  Kai Forbath hears the footsteps–or at least the instep hitting the football– of 7th round pick Zack Hocker.  The rookie made all three of his kicks Saturday–and with Forbath’s kickoffs less than ideal, Hocker isn’t going away.  Something to focus on in the first preseason game…along with the competition at punter.  Last year the team finished 30th in the NFL in gross punting average…so Robert Malone and Blake Clinigan will begin a four-round bout.  Will they use stroke or match-play?

Speaking of Punters–finally.  Ray Guy takes his rightful place in Canton, Ohio as the first fulltime punter a full five years after I blatantly campaigned for his inclusion.  We know punters and kickers are special teamers who don’t really count in the minds of many–but Guy was the first punter people actually took seriously.  I said five years ago that unlike predecessors Paul McGuire and Bobby Walden, Guy actually resembled someone playing in the Pro Bowl as opposed to a pro bowler.  In the late 70’s an opposing team checked out the Raider footballs for helium–any time the periodic table is in question, the man belongs in the HOF.  Now I have to move on and start drumming up support for the Moody Blues and Marvin Miller.

The Nationals cross the 2/3 of the season threshold in first place of the NL East (one unexpected consequence of Washington’s team being named the “Nationals”– one tries to avoid the redundant feel of “Nationals lead the National League East”)…and when the trading deadline came and went the club made one major move.  Asdrubal Cabrera solidifies the infield as he can play both middle positions–freeing up Anthony Rendon to settle in at third.  Even though he’s hitting .246 with 9 HR and 40 RBI, that’s much better than Danny Espinosa (.221 with 101 strikeouts).  In a lineup that after a solid top 5 drops drastically, Cabrera should give them something.  After a Monday makeup game with the Orioles, the Nats play 9 games in 10 days against division opponents.  Time to create a little breathing room…

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