The Washington Redskins players took the field in Richmond for the first time to open training camp at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center. And their fans followed suit.
Spectators flooded the stands and sidelines to watch the team in its first training camp in Richmond. The Redskins reported that with 10,100 fans, Thursday marked their largest opening attendance for a training camp.
As the team ran to the field, one player stole the attention of the thousands of fans — some of whom had waited in line for the facility to open since the wee morning hours — in attendance.
The fans cheered as they watched the quarterback jog onto the field with a bulky brace on his right knee. Still recovering from his January knee surgery, Griffin was mostly just an observer during the team's morning walk through, and occasionally waved toward fans on the sidelines screaming his name.
Fans came from all over to attend the opening day's festivities. A young woman in the crowd held up a sign that read: “I drove from S.C. on my birthday to get RGIII to sign my jersey.”
Many Hampton Roads fans also made the trip to Richmond for the day, including Billy Cole, 19, of Yorktown, who went with his friends.
“We got up at 7 a.m. to watch our team practice,” Cole said. “It's really awesome that the training camp is so close this year. We always wanted to go in years past, but didn't want to drive all the way to northern Virginia.”
For many spectators, their early mornings and long drives were rewarded with autographs from some of their favorite players. After the morning walk through, many Redskins players stayed to sign footballs, pictures and jerseys for their fans.
Cornerback DeAngelo Hall, a former Virginia Tech standout and Chesapeake native, was one of the last players to leave the field after signing dozens of autographs. Many fans shouted out “757” in hopes of getting the attention of the local product.
“It's awesome for me to come back home for training camp and meet all of these people from my neck of the woods,” Hall said. “I really enjoy signing autographs because it allows me to interact with the fans.”
Between applauding spectacular catches on the field — and booing the occasional Cowboys jersey in the stands — there was plenty for Redskins fans to do at the training camp facility. Numerous food vendors lined the outskirts of the training center and a miniature drill field allowed young Redskins fans to work on their skills.
“The atmosphere was amazing out here today,” Hall said. “The fans were really enthusiastic and the players fed off of that.”
Redskins training camp runs through Aug. 16. Most days there are walk throughs at 10 a.m. and practices at 3:20 p.m., all of which are free to the public.
The Redskins open the NFL regular season with Monday Night Football Sept. 9 at home against the Philadelphia Eagles.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun