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The grinding regimen of two-a-day practices reached its merciful end on Thursday in baking heat and stultifying humidity.

The termination of training camp might as well be a holiday wherever NFL teams train. The early-morning wakeup call, the taping of ankles, the hurried breakfast, the bus, the practice at 8:30 a.m. and again in the afternoon, the meetings and study of tape and the desperate attempts to grab a little sleep, all soon fade into memory.

The Redskins stage a walk-through on Friday morning--they call it a mock game--in preparation for their preseason meeting on Saturday night at FedExField with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Practices and meetings continue but not with the unrelenting pace of camp.


Jason Campbell and Clinton Portis (AP Photo)From my experience, this was about a six on scale of one to 10, 10 being the hardest, defensive end Andre Carter said. Those morning practices, well, we pushed through it. Another year complete.

Not that all the business is done. The Redskins still have 80 players and must cut their roster to 53 before they open the season Sept. 13 against the New York Giants. There are three preseason games to play, with starters getting most of their work a week hence against the New England Patriots.

All downhill from here? Not exactly. The Redskins escaped major injuries in the three weeks theyve been pounding on each other but much remains before they are ready to take on the Giants, the defending NFC East champions.

In his second season as coach, Jim Zorn got more out of training camp than in his initial go-round.

Im really pleased, he said. I think we have accomplished a lot more that we could have last year because everything was such a start-up. This year the core of everything has been the same. We pushed a lot offensively to increase the scheme of things. Our defense became more seasoned. I think we did what we had to do.

Sensing a team about to hit the wall, Zorn canceled the Wednesday night meetings after two solid practices in typical Washington, D.C., summer weather.

They were dragging so I gave them the evening off. I dont think they had the energy for anything but a good meal and some rest, Zorn said.

With the breaking of camp, players who stayed at the team hotel can move back to their homes or into their new digs and begin keeping more regular hours.

Weve been here until 10 almost every night, said No. 1 pick Brian Orakpo. Theres a lot of work that goes into this.

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