WASHINGTON -- The University of Toledo football team's first practice in the Washington area was exactly what coach Matt Campbell wanted it to be: short, spirited, and up-tempo.
When the Rockets took the field at St. Stephen's & St. Agnes School in Alexandria, Va., Saturday morning, it was a brisk and breezy 41 degrees with sunny skies.
The workout lasted just 90 minutes, but that was by design.
The Rockets had Christmas Eve dinner at Fogo de Chao, an authentic Brazilian steakhouse that serves 15 different varieties of meat on metal skewers and presented tableside.
UT's team hotel is just a few blocks from Washington's Chinatown, which contains a wide array of restaurants, shops and bars.
Unlike teams at many other bowl games, the Rockets do not travel with a police escort and are forced to deal with traffic just like everybody else in the nation's capital.
"I thought it was a good energy practice," Campbell said. "We said we were trying to cut it short and shorten things up. We've got all the game plans finalized. I thought our kids came out with good focus and good energy. We had a good, quick practice on and off the field and good attention to detail today."
The Rockets will conduct two more practices here over the next two days and follow the same routine of short, intense workouts before Wednesday's matchup with Air Force in the Military Bowl at RFK Stadium in Washington.
SIGHTSEEING: After lunch Saturday, the Rockets went on a guided tour of the monuments.
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Stops included the Lincoln Memorial, World War II Memorial, Washington Monument, Iwo Jima Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial, Korean War Memorial, and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial.
UT also visited the Ellipse and saw the national Christmas tree across from the White House.
"Everything is so nice," senior defensive tackle Johnathan Lamb said. "The buildings are beautiful and the whole environment is great. They have a nice mixture here. It's like Times Square meets Colorado."
BOWL GIFTS: Campbell got to play Santa Claus on Saturday night, as the Rockets received two more of their bowl gifts after dinner -- beanies and Deuce watches.
"I told the guys if they were good today, Santa could show up a little bit tonight," Campbell said with a smile. "And he may resurface tomorrow. We'll see how their behavior is, but they've been pretty good. They'll probably get some good stuff here in the next two days."
Other bowl gifts UT players received include the Amazon Kindle Fire, Apple iPod Nano, LunaTik wristband to hold iPod, and Nike backpacks.
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