ASHBURN, Va. (AP) -Shawn Springs knew he was in for a load of teasing when he decided to train with Walt Harris during the offseason.
"Walt Harris gets on me all the time," Springs said. "He's like, 'Y'all got rid of me and I had 12 myself.' I said, 'Whatever you're doing, I have to start doing."'
Harris was exaggerating a bit - two of his forced fumbles were recovered by the other team, so 10 takeaways would be his more accurate total - but the point was made.
And it's a point that, in many respects, works in Springs' favor.
Springs was essentially hurt all season. He had a sports hernia, a hamstring injury and a broken shoulder blade. He played in only nine games and had one interception. The lack of a healthy No. 1 cornerback helped sink the Redskins defense to the depths of the NFL - 31st among 32 teams.
"It's a big difference when he was on the field - and it was a major difference when he was missing," defensive lineman Phillip Daniels said.
Still, the Redskins didn't show much appreciation. They asked Springs to take a pay cut and shopped him on the trade market. Springs refused to take less money, and he further frustrated the coaching staff by staying away when voluntary spring practices began in May. He then had to miss most of the June minicamp for the birth of his son.
Springs said he took the trade rumors in stride, calling himself an "independent contractor."
"It was part of the business. I took it as flattering," Springs said. "Other teams wanted me."
Now normalcy has been restored. Springs is healthy and on the field for training camp. And lest anyone forget, he's happy to remind them that he can still be a difference-maker. Asked how the team will get more takeaways this year, he said: "Me."
"That's the pride of an athlete," Springs said. "Everybody wants to come back and say, 'This is who I am. This is what I can do."'
Springs is 32, often a red-flag age for a position that relies so heavily on speed. The suggestion that he might be past his prime helps add to his motivation for this season. He is one of several Redskins defensive players - including Marcus Washington, Cornelius Griffin and Daniels - who weren't their usual selves last season because of injuries.
"Obviously this is when you have to prove yourself," Springs said. "And we have to find out what the truth is."
Notes: TE Tyler Ecker strained his groin during the morning practice. ... G Randy Thomas continued to rest his sore right knee, the same knee that required surgery last month. "I'm being smart on it, taking my time," Thomas said. "I just need a little more time to let things heal." ... Antwaan Randle El opened camp as the starting receiver opposite Santana Moss. Brandon Lloyd, who started 12 games last year but caught only 23 passes, is the No. 3 receiver. ... Players sang "Happy Birthday" to T Chris Samuels before practice. "I'm 30 now," Samuels said. "I'm over the hump."