June 17, 2011
During the lockout, player-run workouts have been a bit less formal in nature than the OTAs (organized team activities) you'd usually see in the offseason. But the Washington Redskins took "informal" to a new level during a practice this week, when fan Josh Richards was welcomed onto the field to participate in defensive drills.
The former high school defensive back brought his cleats to practice each day as an observer, and when just 23 players showed up on the final day of workouts, Richards got his shot. Linebacker London Fletcher(notes) (pictured above) asked a group of fans whether anybody had "brought their stuff," and Richards was the only one to step up.
"I felt like if I had cleats on they couldn't say no," Richards told the media in attendance of his time as an NFL defensive back. "So I went out there and did a few ball drills with the defensive backs. I dropped the first two balls, but after that I didn't drop anymore."
Richards currently works in the athletic department at George Mason University and plays on a flag football team, so this was a bit of a step up. He said that his only disappointment was that he wasn't able to go up against receiver Brandon Banks(notes), whom he uses as inspiration because "he shows that you don't have to be big to be in the NFL. All you need is speed, quickness and desire. And I admire him for that."
Richards helped set up cones for the workouts, and tried to pick up the terminology from the players on the scene, eventually coming off the field to say that "the terminology was pretty crazy."
"He was asking questions so we tried to explain some things to him," said safety Kevin Barnes(notes). "He seemed pretty interested, so we were just helping him out. A few years ago, I was the same way, so I understand exactly where he's at."
Richards wasn't asked to participate in team drills, but that didn't matter — it was a day he's never going forget. "This ranks pretty high because now I can tell all my friends, I practiced with the Redskins. It could have been during the lockout and an informal practice, but I practiced with the Redskins. It's not going to leave my memory. I'm going to savor this moment."
Let that be a lesson to all you would-be Deions out there -- if you get a chance to head out to a player workout organized by the guys on your favorite team, it's not a bad idea to dust off those old cleats.
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