ASHBURN, VA - AUGUST 03: Defensive end Brian Orakpo #98 of the Washington Redskins watches practice during training camp August 3, 2009 in Ashburn, Virginia. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Following a week when wintry weather forced the relocation of most of their practices, the Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan announced Monday that the team will install a heated practice field at its headquarters in Ashburn, which will be ready by the start of next season.
Four days last week, the Redskins were unable to use the natural grass fields at the facility because they were either frozen or covered with snow. Three times the team was forced to relocate to its old Astroturf field.
With snow falling on Thursday, the Redskins were compelled to hold practice on a basketball court inside a nearby gym. The heated coils that the team plans to install underneath the turf of one of the fields would prevent such inconveniences in the future.
The Redskins are only one of 11 teams in the NFL that does not have its own indoor practice facility. The team is the only "cold weather" franchise to be among those without the use of an indoor facility. Last August, owner Dan Snyder said the team is looking into building an indoor facility on the grounds of Redskins Park "hopefully in the near future."
It was the fourth time the team was forced by weather to move practice to an off-site location and miss full-contact drills. The first three were caused by torrential rains. The team also plans to construct a protective bubble to shield against downpour, but coach Mike Shanahan said it wasn't clear whether that would be ready in time for the start of next season.
While Shanahan in his Monday press conference noted the detrimental effect of the team not getting its full amount of practice reps before the loss in Dallas, he praised the team for making the best of the situation.
“I think if everybody knows that if you don’t have a place to practice it does affect you,” Shanahan said. “But I thought our players handled it as well as you could possibly handle it.”
Shanahan noted, based on his experiences as a coach in Denver, where snow is hardly a rarity, that the heated field is more critical than the protective bubble. He said in his tenure with the Broncos, the team used the bubble likely no more than a half dozen times, while the heated field often allowed the team to practice on the grass in the elements, even when it was snowing.