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With coaches away, 'Skins players take all-business approach

ASHBURN, Va. -- They tossed around terms like "pre-install" and "Mike-Sam." They made the rookies tote the equipment, just as if it were a real minicamp. Some even reconvened at a hotel to go over the plays run a few hours earlier at practice.

If anything, the three days of Washington Redskins player-run workouts that concluded Thursday proved that players can, indeed, act professional -- even when there's not a coach barking at every turn.

"I can remember a few times when we tried to do this in college," said running back Evan Royster, a sixth-round draft pick from Penn State, "and it just wasn't working out because the defense goes too hard, the offense goes too hard, and it's just hard to find a balance. But at this level, these guys know exactly how to practice. And they just kind of pass that knowledge on to everybody else."

About 40 players attended the practices each day at a Virginia high school, a sizeable bump from the 25-30 that attended a two-day session last month, and they know they'll have to do it again to keep pace with players from other NFL teams holding ad hoc workouts. Linebacker London Fletcher, who proudly proclaimed, "We were the first ones that did it," said the tentative plan is to reconvene sometime in June.

"We really gave the rookies some stuff so they can have a foundation," said Fletcher, who worked with linebacker Lorenzo Alexander to organize the sessions. "Now the next time we'll take it to the next level, teach then some more concepts, stuff like that."

The camaraderie continues Friday, with some of the players sticking around for a round of golf with tight end Chris Cooley. Meanwhile, quarterback John Beck wants to figure out a way to film the practices next time so that everyone can review mistakes.

Despite the workmanlike atmosphere, some players took the practices more seriously than others, and some didn't show up at all. Those who stayed away -- especially the draft picks -- lost some valuable learning time.

"John Beck sent me just the first day install stuff, and I was looking it over, and it's really like reading Chinese when you don't know the terminology and stuff," Royster said. "I wanted to get out there and get a grasp of it."

Royster's first day was a bit ragged and tentative. By Day 2, he was starting to get a groove.

"I can stand there and listen to the play now," he said, "and not be like `Oh, my God what am I doing?'"

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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