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Minicamp report: Redskins’ Callahan trumpets Bugel

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ASHBURN, Va. — When Bill Callahan was beginning his coaching career at Illinois in the early 1980s, he visited the Washington Redskins’ training camp in Carlisle, Pa. and watched line coach Joe Bugel work with the Hogs, the offensive line that was pivotal in Washington’s three Super Bowl victories from 1982-91.

So when Callahan took the job in January that Bugel held from 1981-89 and from 2004-07, he immediately hung a photo on his office wall of the Hogs smacking around the archival Cowboys.

“I’ve always admired what Joe Bugel has done,” Callahan said. “We’re trying to carry on that tradition and trying to live up the standards that they’ve established.”

Callahan has certainly established some pretty strong standards of his own, having coached Oakland to Super Bowl XXXVII and serving as Dallas’ coordinator and line coach last season, when the Cowboys won the NFC East for the first time in five years and ranked second in the NFL in rushing.

So even though his contract in Dallas expired and he had “plenty of options,” Callahan chose to join the Redskins, who have finished in the NFC East cellar for six of the last seven seasons.

“I just felt it was a great fit,” said Callahan, citing team president Bruce Allen, running backs coach Randy Jordan, and tight ends coach Wes Phillips plus quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh, who was hired shortly after he was.

“I felt really comfortable and very confident that I could contribute something to the organization.”

Coach Jay Gruden certainly believes that Callahan will make a difference for a line which already has a new right side in second-year guard Spencer Long and rookie tackle Brandon Scherff.

When all the other position groups have long left the field, Callahan’s linemen are still out there working.

“He demands a lot from those guys, both on the field and off the field,” Gruden said. “They meet a lot. They practice hard. Their routine is pretty strenuous. Being a player for coach Callahan is a demanding thing, but at the end of the day, he’s going to get the best results out of you.”

–Before the Redskins began their first training camp under coach Jay Gruden last summer in Richmond, the first-time head coach decided to conduct full practices in the mornings, when the players had yet to be worn down by the heat and humidity.

The afternoons were for walk-throughs.

So it was a surprise when Gruden flipped the mornings and afternoons for this year’s camp, an idea which may well have come from owner Dan Snyder’s marketing minions, who apparently believe that they can draw bigger crowds and sell more memorabilia if the afternoon session is the meaningful one.

“We decided to install the morning meetings, walk through the installation, practice in the afternoon, watch the practice tape, and do it all over again as opposed to trying to install in the evening and practice in the morning,” Gruden deftly explained.

“When you install in the evening, sometimes guys are so tired and run down that you don’t get their attention. We’re hoping that when they wake up bright and early, get a cup of coffee and a good breakfast, we’ll install our stuff … walk through what we just installed and then practice it (after lunch).

“The reason I didn’t do it last year, quite frankly, is I worried about the rain in the afternoon. But after going through it, I think we would’ve only missed one, maybe two days. If it is a chance of rain or something in the afternoon, we can always flip-flop the practices depending on it. From a learning standpoint … I think meeting, walk-through, practice, watch tape is the best way to do it.”

–Tight end Devin Mahina is an undrafted rookie from Brigham Young. On a team returning its top players at the position — Jordan Reed, Logan Paulsen and Niles Paul — Mahina wouldn’t normally get any media attention except for the fact that he’s wearing No. 89, the number worn for the last decade by Santana Moss, one of the top receivers in franchise history who wasn’t re-signed this year.

“I didn’t know whose number it was when they gave it to me, but I found out pretty quickly,” Mahina said. “He put in a lot of years here, did a lot of good things. I saw the 30-on-30 documentary on The U, so I knew about Santana Moss. He was a really good receiver. It’s a great honor to wear his number. Maybe I feel a little more explosive wearing it.”

The 6-foot-6, 250-pound Mahina, who would tower over the 5-10, 185-pound Moss, has a block-first mentality. So does Paulsen, who made the Redskins as a undrafted rookie from UCLA in 2010 and started 36 games the last three seasons.

Paulsen has made a point of working with Mahina every day after practice this spring. No wonder the latter called the former an inspiration.

“I appreciate that,” Paulsen said. “He’s a really hard worker. I’ve been really impressed with him. A lot of young guys start off working really hard every day, but they fall off. Devin hasn’t done that. Santana was a great player who meant a lot to this team, but everybody eventually gets replaced.”


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