November 14, 2019

Washington Redskins: 2015 Outlook for Defense

We have looked at the Washington Redskins offense last week. This week we looked specifically at the defensive line, linebackers, and secondary of the burgundy and gold. Now it’s time to look at the defense as a whole, a unit that last year looked worse than a college team under the helm of Jim Haslett. Defensive coordinator Joe Barry might have gone 0-16 in the same role with the Lions, but there is almost no where but up for him to take the Redskins defense.

Similarly to our outlook for the offense, we will go through each unit projecting their grades for the regular season and then develop a projected Week 1 Depth Chart (which will NOT included the suspended Baushad Breeland).

  • Defensive Line: B+. The Redskins might not have any flashy stars like J.J. Watt that we can become enamored with in the trenches, but they have quietly put together a strong group of veterans that get the job done. Ricky Jean-Francois, Stephen Paea, and Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton should help solidify a unit that struggled doing anything in non-blitz situations. As long as they accomplish occupying more blockers than they are rushing from the line, that play will be a success. Penetration and giving linebackers open lanes to the ball carrier would be a bonus that would put them is company with some of the best lines in the league, but we must temper expectations to start.
  • Linebackers: B. The lone addition to the unit was Junior Galette and as long as he stays on the field by avoiding off the field issues, he will be an important asset for the team. The unit is quite strong at OLB with Trent Murphy and rookie Preston Smith looking accomplished enough to fill in sparingly, but the there are still concerns for the linebackers in coverage. If they can keep the number of times they are exposed in the pass game to a minimum and play strong run defense while also pressuring the quarterback, it will be another unit for the Redskins that GM Scot McCloughan has upgraded.
  • Secondary: C+. It is simply too soon to tell how the defensive backs will look come the regular season and how much of an improvement they will be over last year’s dreadful unit. DeAngelo Hall might start slowing down at the age of 31 after coming off two torn Achilles injuries. Possibly three new starters to fill out the unit could lead to communication problems as many have been unable to stay on the field due to nagging injuries already. The secondary may improve as the season goes along after recovering Breeland and see a chemistry build, but right now it is too soon to say the unit will be anything but average.

Projected Defensive Week 1 Lineup:

  • LDE: Stephen Paea, Frank Kearse, Kedric Golston
  • NT: Terrance Knighton, Chris Baker
  • RDE: Jason Hatcher, Ricky Jean-Francois
  • WLB: Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith
  • MLB: Perry Riley, Adam Hayward
  • MLB: Keenan Robinson, Will Compton, Martrell Spaight
  • SLB: Junior Galette, Trent Murphy (could be flip-flopped if Galette has not quite gotten comfortable yet)
  • CB: DeAngelo Hall, Justin Rodgers (Rodgers could be cut from the roster when Breeland returns)
  • CB: Chris Culliver, David Amerson
  • SS: Duke Ihenacho, Jeron Johnson (with Johnson’s lengthy hamstring injury, Ihenacho will probably begin the season as the starter)
  • FS: DaShon Goldson, Trenton Robinson, Kyshoen Jarrett

Bottom line: If the defensive line is effective in occupying blockers allowing the linebackers to stop the run and put pressure on the quarterback without all out blitzes, the secondary will benefit by having less time to be exposed.

Washington Redskins: 2015 Training Camp Day 19 Observations

On the official last day of training camp (closed to the public), the Washington Redskins went through a light walkthrough before returning to a newly renovated Redskins Park in Ashburn. The day started with President Bruce Allen speaking to the media about camp in Richmond, new stadium talks, and what went into the signing of Junior Galette.

In a quick evaluation of what was accomplished in training camp, head coach Jay Gruden thinks a lot was accomplished and liked that the players came together as a team. Much of that coming together could have a lot to do with teammates sticking up for each other in their scrums with the Houston Texans. Despite tensions broiling over in Day 3 of the joint practices, Gruden reiterated that he will not hesitate to schedule them in the future as the pros greatly outweigh the cons that transpired this year.

The Redskins have struggled in the special teams phase of the game for years now. A lot of that has to do with the lack of an explosive return presence. Last year Andre Roberts was “consistent” as Gruden put it but far from electrifying or providing a spark for the offense. Today Gruden noted that before Jamison Crowder got hurt, he was about to outright win the return man job from Roberts, which is indeed an open competition. The Redskins will continue to experiment with the position while Crowder is sidelined with Chris Thompson, Trey Williams, and Rashad Ross in addition to the incumbent Roberts.

Additional Need to Knows:

  • Gruden said his lone regret of training camp was the injuries throughout the secondary, which prevented the defensive backs like Baushad Breeland and David Amerson from developing chemistry with the new safeties DaShon Goldson and Jeron Johnson.
  • TE D.J. Williams has played in similar offenses to the Redskins’ in the past so Jay Gruden believes the transition will be a little bit smoother, relatively to Ernst Brun who was also signed yesterday to fill the gaping depth issues.
  • When asked about if Robert Griffin III will begin to ascend as a quarterback the way his draft classmates of Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson have, Gruden responded with “that is the goal”. The head coach also made it clear that the team has to keep him healthy and playing to begin with, which can be correlated to his recent struggles.

Injury Updates:

  • Jamison Crowder (hamstring) “will probably be out” for Thursday’s preseason game vs. the Lions.
  • DeSean Jackson (shoulder) is out as expected this week though Gruden provided the positive news that the deep threat has regained full range of motion.
  • After hurting exiting yesterday’s practice early with a toe injury, DeAngelo Hall sat out of today’s walkthroughs though an x-ray on the area was negative. Gruden is listing him as day to day giving him a chance to go against the Lions. Hall commented the injury occurred when he jammed his toe but is hopeful that the swelling and pain go down so that he can play Thursday because he “needs the reps”.

Important Dates:

  • Host the Detroit Lions for the second preseason game in 3 days on 8/20 at 7:30 PM.
  • The final cuts to a 53 man roster will take place over the next 19 days by 9/4.
  • Season and home opener against Miami Dolphins on Sunday, September 13 in 28 days.

Washington Redskins: 2015 Training Camp Day 17 Observations

After a costly 20-17 win in the preseason opener in Cleveland, the Washington Redskins regrouped to take part in a Saturday afternoon practice on Fan Appreciation Day. Today marks the penultimate practice of training camp as the Week 1 game against the Miami Dolphins approaches in less than a month.

With the loss of two tight ends from the projected 53 man roster in the span of days, head coach Jay Gruden said the team will work out additional options “shortly”. In the meantime, Chase Dixon, Je’Ron Hamm, and Devin Mahina will have to pick up the slack. In limited playing time as a blocking tight end last year, tackle Tom Compton will also be considered as an option in running and max protect situations according to the second year head coach. Compton did lineup at the tight end position during a few plays during practice today. With Gruden not confirming the Redskins will bring in another running back behind Trey Williams and Mack Brown it is possible they can use that opening to bring in another tight end option.

Gruden thought that both Brandon Scherff and Morgan Moses did a nice job on the right side of the offensive line. On Moses, Gruden thinks that he is “just becoming more comfortable on the right side” after playing left tackle in college. Gruden also said that even though Scherff is a lot better at right guard, he could play at right tackle but it is simply that Moses has progressed enough to earn a starting role. It comes down to the Redskins rather having Moses in the starting lineup than Spencer Long.

Other news on the offensive line comes from the backup center position where Josh LeRibeus was somewhat underwhelming at in the preseason opener against the Browns. Gruden discussed the idea that both Ty Larson (UDFA) and Spencer Long are both getting acclimated with the position. If the Redskins chose to hold only 9 offensive lineman on the 53 man roster, it is likely that Long will be the primary backup center and LeRibeus will be let go. Seventh round pick Austin Reiter could be the backup center of the future for the Redskins, which could earn him a spot on the Redskins practice squad. According to CSN’s Rich Tandler, Reiter was seen today already calling out audibles at the line of scrimmage, an important part of any center’s game.

On a quick evaluation of Robert Griffin III‘s performance against the Browns, Gruden noted that he had a dropped 61-yard touchdown that Pierre Garcon catches “99%” of the time. Moreover, Gruden liked the third down conversion that Griffin ran for but noted the flaws on the fade route thrown out of bounds, possibly to due “adrenaline”, and the missed third down conversion where Evan Spencer might have ran to short of a route.

Gruden also mentioned that he liked that physical runs and cuts that Matt Jones put on display last Thursday night. The head coach did however critique Jones on his developing pass protection skills, which he complimented third string running back Chris Thompson on. Thompson’s spot may be all but secured, barring injury, as Trey Williams looks to be more practice squad material.

Practice Notes and Evaluations

  • Willie Smith and UDFA Takoby Cofield took snaps with the first team at left tackle as Trent Williams was held out (for precautionary reasons with a nagging knee injury). It has been assumed that Compton would easily have a roster spot on the team, but the reps that he is getting overlooked for may be concerning. To me I see it as the coaching staff trying to determine if Smith or Cofield deserve a roster or practice squad spot, while the production of Compton is a known.
  • Halfway through practice, the players were allowed to take off their full padded equipment. When asked about the surprise, Gruden said that it was a combination of things like the heat, injuries, and the team already having completed the sets they wanted to complete with pads on. It is also possible that Gruden wanted to give some of the fans who came out for fan appreciation day an opportunity to see some more exciting and better executed sets.
  • The Redskins did a pretty good job of putting on a show for their fans and it started with Griffin. The quarterback showed of his cannon of an arm with bombs to receivers Rashad Ross, Tony Jones, and Pierre Garcon during 7-on-7 drills. Obviously Griffin was not facing any pressure but execution in all sets is a positive.
  • We have seen Kirk Cousins score in key situations, against Baltimore on a crucial two point conversion in 2012 and most recently last Thursday on a read option take for a score. Quite frankly, no one expects for Cousins to run with the ball very much. Griffin on the other hand he is a true running threat. The former Heisman award winner has not done as much running lately but today in practice he scored on a red zone set on a designed quarterback draw.
  • Colt McCoy seems to be solidifying his on destiny as the third string quarterback after a luck luster preseason showing and then throwing two interceptions during practice today.
  • After seemingly getting back on track with a strong showing in practice leading up to another solid output against the Browns, Kai Forbath took as tep back from the consistency. The projected starting place kicker was a miserable 1/4 on kicks today, making a 33 yarder but missing from 35, 40, and 43 yards out. None the less, Forbath is still much better than NT Chris Baker who had a miserable attempt today (see below).

Injury Updates:

  • Gruden confirmed that RB Silas Redd (torn ACL/MCL) and TE Logan Paulsen (turf toe), adding to TE Niles Paul, will be out for the year. Paulsen will have surgery Monday.
  • TE Jordan Reed (hamstring), WR Jamison Crowder (hamstring), MLB Will Compton (head), MLB Perry Riley (wrist), CB Baushad Breeland (MCL), WR DeSean Jackson (shoulder), LT Trent Williams (right knee), and DE Frank Kearse (shoulder) all sat out of practice today. Riley, Williams, and Kearse are new to the injury report but are to be considered day-to-day.
  • Gruden said both Crowder and Jackson are close to returning and the hope is that they will be ready to go fully by the Ravens preseason game.
  • Reed told CSN’s Tarik El-Bashir, that he did some running today on his sore hamstring and hopes to return to practice on Monday.
  • OLB Junior Galette (pec) took part in his first full practice with the team today and though he may have a shot at going against the Lions, the third preseason game against the Ravens is more realistic. Galette later confirmed Gruden’s projection of playing against the Ravens.
  • CB David Amerson (shoulder), SS Jeron Johnson (hamstring), and SS Duke Ihenacho (right arm contusion) were back at practice today.

Important Dates:

  • Training camps is officially ongoing and will last until Sunday, August 16th. See a full schedule of the Redskins training camp practices here.
  • Host the Detroit Lions for the second preseason game in 5 days on 8/20 at 7:30 PM.
  • The final cuts to a 53 man roster will take place over the next 21 days by 9/4.
  • Season and home opener against Miami Dolphins on Sunday, September 13 in 30 days.

Washington Redskins: 2015 Training Camp Day 13 Observations

In the last practice open to the public until Fan Appreciation Day on Saturday, August 15, the Washington Redskins looked to get in one last tune up before their preseason opener in Cleveland. As is appropriate for practices two days before games, the team did not go in full pads.

Head coach Jay Gruden said previously that Robert Griffin III will likely play more than a series and “at least” a quarter Thursday. Today he clarified that if Griffin has a “12-14 play [opening] drive, that could change everything”. Kirk Cousins told reporters that he expects to play with the second string offense on Thursday for possibly the second and third quarters while Colt McCoy will finish the game. That will likely be flip-flopped in the second preseason game

Practice Notes and Evaluations:

  • Griffin was impressive in 7-on-7 drills today, obviously without a pass legitimate pass rush. The Baylor product was 6-for-6 for 92 yards including beautiful bomb for a 50-yard touchdown to Pierre Garcon down the sidelines. Griffin said today was his best day of practice during training camp “from a mental and fundamental standpoint”.
  • The defense has been dealing with more injuries especially in the secondary. Behind starters Chris Culliver and DeAngelo Hall, the team has a converted wide receiver and two players signed last week playing at cornerback. This has resulted, according to safety Duke Ihenacho in slower communication and also some busted coverages giving Cousins and McCoy possible easier chances to pick a part the defense.
  • Kai Forbath, for the second day in a row, converted on all of his field goals from distances of 30, 33, 38, and 40 yards out.

Injury Updates:

  • Niles Paul did not damage his shoulder structurally and will take part in today’s individual position workout. Gruden later confirmed that Paul’s MRI came back clean. It is important for Paul to stay healthy if he hopes to continue being listed as the starting tight end. Paul may get the majority of first unit playing time on Thursday as Jordan Reed is now listed as day-to-day with a hamstring injury.
  • CB David Amerson (shoulder), CB Baushad Breeland (MCL), WR DeSean Jackson (shoulder), WR Jamison Crowder (hamstring), TE Logan Paulsen (toe), MLB Will Compton (head), and S Jeron Johnson (hamstring) all did NOT take part in practice. You can see some footage of Breeland and Jackson rehabbing below.
  • Trevardo Williams, Jackson, Ryan Kerrigan (knee), Crowder, Compton, Breeland, and Amerson were all ruled OUT Thursday vs. the Browns by Gruden. Kerrigan is being sat for precautionary reasons after already having an offseason knee procedure.

For more updates about Redskins training camp come back and visit District Sports Page.

Important Dates:

  • Training camps is officially ongoing and will last until Sunday, August 16th. See a full schedule of the Redskins training camp practices here.
  • Travel to Cleveland for first preseason matchup against the Browns on Thursday, August 13 (at 8 PM) in 2 days.
  • Season and home opener against Miami Dolphins on Sunday, September 13 in 33 days.

Washington Redskins: 2015 Training Camp Day 9 Observations

After an injury riddled practice yesterday that saw the likes of DeSean Jackson and DeAngelo Hall go down with a bit more than minor injuries, the Redskins hoped to complete a second joint practice with the Houston Texans without a hitch. For the second straight day, the teams had a morning 8:35 AM practice this time without an afternoon walkthrough that was canceled yesterday due to weather concerns.

Head coach Jay Gruden was visibly frustrated with all of these injuries that are keeping his projected starters from getting the necessary reps to prepare them for the season. Gruden did admit that possibly with the joint practices the past two sessions, the physicality and aggressiveness has gone up which could lead to more minor injuries popping up. For instance, Matt Jones trucked Texans CB Kevin Johnson along the sideline which fired up his team as both sides are enjoying the chance to knocking around other players (see picture below). The injuries, especially on the defensive side, however allow younger raw players to possibly work there way into a roster or practice squad opportunity with the Redskins.

Scoring in the red zone is obviously the key to a successful offense in today’s brand of football in the NFL. Gruden called socring in the red zone “one of our focal points this offseason” after a terrible display throughout last year. Even though the windows are tighter with less field to work with, arguably making DeSean Jackson’s life harder, Gruden noted that “you’ve got to have anticipation and…some luck”.

Gruden mentioned that he likes joint practices because he can see his team hone in particular situations, such as red zone drills, but against the talent from another NFL franchise. Contrarily, one might not be able to see a specific occurrence in the preseason because it cannot be scripted to a coaching staff’s liking.

Practice Notes and Evaluations:

  • With injuries to the top four cornerbacks (David Amerson- AC joint sprain, Baushad Breeland- MCL sprain, Chris Culliver- groin, and Hall- groin), it was up to the likes of Justin Rodgers and converted safety Kyshoen Jarrett to pick up the slack on the first unit defense.
  • Gruden was proud of the way Matt Jones was finally finishing some of his runs “violently”. Jones also had moments where he turned something into nothing after a missed blocking assignment. Overall the Florida product had “a much better day today than he did yesterday” said Gruden.
  • The Redskins are so thin in the secondary that they asked natural wide receiver Quinton Dunbar to take a shot at switching to a defender. For such a drastic change, Dunbar did a spot on job which Gruden though he might have because of his past participation on punt coverage. Although it is highly unlikely Dunbar will make the 53 man roster, the coaching staff will likely be indebtted to him for his willingness to adjust to change.
  • Scherff, at right guard, continued to struggle at time against J.J. Watt but that is acceptable. When Scherff was able to clear Watt out, it came in situations for Scherff got the proper position to gain leverage on the All-Pro defender. Watt commented that since Scherff is a rookie “there’s a learning curve”, but with a “good offensive line around him and a great coach [Bill Callahan], he’ll be fine”. Nice words from arguably the best player in the game.
  • Robert Griffin III had an erratic performance under center for the Redskins. On one series nothing went right he either was under duress or had no receivers open to get the ball to. The lone positive from that drive was that he did not force anything that could have compounded the problem with a turnover.
  • At the end of practice while running goal to go sets, both the Redskins first and second string offenses converted by punching it into the end zone. Griffin threw a pass to Pierre Garcon on a fade pattern in the corner of the end zone, while Colt McCoy, after fumbling the snap, recovered and found Evan Spencer open while scrambling.

Injury Updates:

  • TE Logan Paulsen and OLB Preston Smith joined the injury report by practicing with their rehabbing teammates. Gruden disclosed that Paulsen has a big toe sprain that is swollen and was given the day off after limping even though he wanted to “fight through” as “one of the tougher guys” on the team. Smith strained his groin “just a hair” but coaches are hopeful the second round pass rusher can go tomorrow.
  • Backup DE Frank Kearse limped off the practice field with a right knee injury that would be visibly wrapped when returning to the sidelines. In a defensive line that is filled with older veterans, Kearse is one of the few younger bodies in the trenches.
  • Probably the biggest free agent signing for the Redskins this offseason was of DE Stephen Paea. Like Smith, Paea also dealt with a groin injury and missed some reps towards the end of practice.
  • Gruden noted that Amerson, Culliver, and Hall are all day to day. Jeron Johnson will be back when he can “push through it”. David Amerson may be able to participate in the last joint practice tomorrow, but could be held out for precautionary reasons.
  • It is important to note that with a lot of this injuries, they are minor enough such that players would still be available during a regular season game. Right now there is no reason to aggravate anything and as a result you see a lot of projected starters sitting out in order to get back at 100%. Gruden admitted they are “probably being cautious” with his players.

For more updates about Redskins training camp come back and visit District Sports Page.

Important Dates:

  • Training camps is officially ongoing and will last until Sunday, August 16th. See a full schedule of the Redskins training camp practices here.
  • Travel to Cleveland for first preseason matchup against the Browns on Thursday, August 13 (at 8 PM) in 6 days.
  • Season and home opener against Miami Dolphins on Sunday, September 13 in 37 days.

Washington Redskins: 2015 Training Camp Day 5 Observations

With tomorrow being the first off day in the training camp schedule, it made sense that the coaches pushed their players to the limit in order to whip them into shape as the season fast approaches. Although we have seen the players in pads as early as Saturday, today the roster was technically practicing in full pads.

DeSean Jackson took questions from the media and made it clear he is willing to make the commitment to turn this football team around. The elite deep threat was criticized earlier in the off season for skipping out on voluntary OTAs and taking time to film a BET reality television show. Jackson responded by stating “I’m here now, I’m ready to work and focus on the season”. As an injury update of what was reported to be a dislocated finger for Jackson, the wide receiver said “just popped it back in place. I’ll be alright” with little concern of missing any prolonged practice time.

Jackson also provided his own perspective on the talent of some of his teammates. First of his quarterback, Robert Griffin III, Jackson said “I’ve definitely seen progression” and that the more practice reps they can get together, the better. The former Eagle also noted that rookie Jamison Crowder was thrown into the fire a bit but has actually come out with some “great results”. Jackson also complimented his counterpart across the field in CB Chris Culliver by ranking him as a “great cover corner in this league”.

The subject of Griffin’s performance returned to the mainstay of today’s press conference with Jay Gruden. The head coach said, “He’s been doing fine…Overall, I think he’s handled everything extremely well.” Moving onto one of Griffin’s weapons, Gruden has extremely high praise for WR DeSean Jackson. “DeSean has been great since we got him here and …when the balls come to him, make the play like he always does” on having to share the ball especially when Jackson is double covered. Gruden also had kind words for the oft-injured but explosive TE Jordan Reed. Beyond Reed’s normal ability to be a dynamic option in the passing game, Gruden said he has most noticed his improvement in pass protection and the running game in part due to his improved strength and technique.

To continue the beat, Gruden was also complementary of both Morgan Moses and Josh LeRibeus in their performances with the first team offense yesterday, in place of LT Trent Williams and C Kory Lichtensteiger who were given the day off. It would be hard to see Moses getting any significant playing time at tackle in the future, assuming Trent Williams’ contract is extended. The guard position for Moses and the center position for LeRibeus are both adjustments that would take time beyond this season to become starting options.

Practice Notes and Evaluations

  • Rookie CB Tevin Mitchel, who was expected to make the 53 man roster, will have surgery on his left labrum (he had surgery on his right in college) and will likely miss the entirety of his first year.
  • Rookie RB Matt Jones, who did not finish yesterday’s practice with a right knee injury, did not participate today but is listed as day to day. The hope is that the rookie bruiser will be back in full participation on Wednesday after tomorrow’s day off.
  • CB David Amerson did a nice job covering DeSean Jackson on a deep ball that traveled 50+ yards in the air. Unfortunately, the ball hawk corner fell to the ground and looked to have injured his shoulder and would leave practice. The Redskins have already lost Baushad Breeland to a 4-6 week MCL injury and 1 game suspension as well as Tevin Mitchel for the season. Beyond Chris Culliver and DeAngelo Hall, it is the likes of Justin Rodgers and Kyshoen Jarrett (who would have to convert from safety) to step up during training camp and possibly beyond. UPDATE: Amerson suffered an ac joint sprain and could be back at practice Wednesday if the swelling comes down.
  • OLB Junior Galette continues to work on side fields with trainers to continue practicing an ever evolving craft of pass rushing. Gruden noted that Galette was going to be held out a few more days meaning he could miss out on some if not all of the joint practices with the Houston Texans, which takes place Thursday through Saturday (8/6-8). You can see a clip of what Galette has been up to the past few days below.
  • After second round pick Preston Smith struggled yesterday, the pass rusher responded with a better output today. Smith used both power and quickness on two separate occasions to make T Takoby Cofield look like a rag doll. The Ole Miss product also had his moments as a run stopper, making life difficult for Silas Redd who saw time with the second unit as Jones was sidelined.
  • The battle for a third string running back will be an interesting battle to keep track of throughout training camp. Silas Redd has the most recent experience in the offense but does not necessarily excel in one particular area. Chris Thompson, though speedy, has failed to shake the injury bug in the past and has pass protection to work on after Keenan Robinson made him look bad in his opportunity with the first unit. Dark horse Trey Williams has track level speed but at 5-7/195, there is a big question of whether his body could take a continuous beating.
  • Arguably the most impressive performance of Griffin since his rookie year came today. Yes it is simply training camp, yes he cannot be roughed up, but his quick decision making ability in the two minute drill can translate to the regular season. Griffin was 8/8 and sharply finished the drive for a touchdown while diversifying his receiving targets.

Gruden noted that the off day should be used for a reboot for both the coaches and players, to simply get away from the game a bit.

For more updates about Redskins training camp come back and visit District Sports Page.

Important Dates:

  • Training camps is officially ongoing and will last until Sunday, August 16th. See a full schedule of the Redskins training camp practices here.
  • Travel to Cleveland for first preseason matchup against the Browns on Thursday, August 13 (at 8 PM) in 10 days.
  • Season and home opener against Miami Dolphins on Sunday, September 13 in 41 days.

Washington Redskins: 2015 Training Camp Day 4 Observations

On the fourth day of training camp it was much of the same for the team as they went through a relaxed morning walk through before another full padded practice in sweltering 90 degree heat though cloud cover helped. The Redskins are fast approaching there three day joint practice with the Houston Texans on Friday, August 7th that will prepare them for their first preseason action on Thursday, August 13th against the Cleveland Browns.

Free agent pickup Chris Culliver spoke to the media about his evolving role as a Washington Redskin and the new defensive culture the team is trying to create. Culliver optimistically stated that “overall the defense is coming along good”. The ex-49er also mentioned that DeAngelo Hall is looking good on the field and they are building chemistry together by giving one another pointers. When asked point-blank why Scot McCloughan decided to give him a chance with his own off the field issues, Culliver mentioned that the Redskins GM trusted him. That same might be said for the case of Junior Galette. A big grin grew on Culliver’s face when the possibility of a dominant pass rush was brought up, he clearly feels the same way when sincerely stating that “the talent here is special”. In a secondary that could see three new faces getting significant playing time, it is good to see Culliver already reiterating that they are all here to get better together.

When GM McCloughan came to talked to the media, he was bombarded by questions about the Redskins group decision to sign Junior Galette. McCloughan, President Bruce Allen, and head coach Jay Gruden all met with Galette for “hours” as they did “thorough, thorough research…talked to over 20 people” that began as soon as they heard the OLB may be released. McCloughan made sure he knew Galette as a person and saw that he was honestly sincere. The head personnel man also went into that the Redskins figured out the truth and that what the media has reported is not always that. McCloughan did acknowledge the chance that Galette will be suspended by the league offense but put his foot down by saying “I will not bring a bad guy in here”. The latter events of Galette’s stay in Richmond culminated with emotions being let out through tears, which McCloughan described as how badly he wanted to be a Redskin.

McCloughan said he would not address Bashaud Breeland’s suspension incident because it was something that he was not on staff for, but did talk positively of the second year corner as well. “He has a chance to be a really good player” which McCloughan seemed to insinuate as all-pro if not better caliber.

After answering “non-football” related questions that irritated McCloughan, the general manager was able to shed some light on the current season at hand. First, McCloughan vehemently explained that they hope Alfred Morris is a career Redskin despite all of the hype of using a third round pick on rookie RB Matt Jones. Gruden also spoke highly of starting running back Alfred Morris who he says has improved his receiving out of the backfield and is one of the few in the league who does not complain about getting the ball. That and his previous three year track record with the Redskins compelled Gruden to agree with what McCloughan stated just minutes before that they want Alfred to be here “for a while”.

When asked about how many wins would define a successful season in his mind, McCloughan smartly avoided setting a standard quantitatively. However, McCloughan did optimistically imply that the Redskins will no longer be the laughing stock of the NFC East because “when you play the Redskins this year you are going to feel it”. Gruden also ended his press conference by saying, we are “building a team such that they [opponents] have to worry about us more than we have to worry about them”.

As expected, McCloughan stated that although he has final say on all transactions including the cuts to get the team to the needed 53 man roster, everyone is involved from the coaching staff to his own personnel team.

Gruden brought up a few surprises went asked if any rookies will not get playing time because of their lack of experience, which he instantly refuted. As expected first round pick Brandon Scherff will receive any and all playing time as the 5th overall pick. However, Gruden also brought up fourth round pick Arie Kouandjio as possibly pushing veteran Shaun Lauvao for playing time at left guard. Gruden also discussed fellow fourth rounder WR Jamison Crowder and sixth rounder S Kyshoen Jarrett as possibly earning additional practice/playing time with the first team.

Practice Notes and Evaluations

  • Tevin Mitchel (right shoulder) will receive further tests, Jeron Johnson (tweaked hamstring) is going to try and give it a go, and Willie Smith (achilles) will be out 2-3 days.
  • Like DeAngelo Hall yesterday, veteran left tackle Trent Williams, center Kory Lichtensteiger, linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, defensive end Jason Hatcher, and safety DaShon Goldson received scheduled days off.
  • RB Matt Jones was sidelined for part of practice to ice his leg while standing and watching. He later walked with trainers back to the facilities with a wrap on his right knee.
  • WR DeSean Jackson did not practice today because of an injured finger that is believed to be dislocated though still being evaluated.
  • Newly signed OLB Junior Galette continues to work on a side field to enhance his own personal craft (hand placement) before joining the team practices. We could see Galette practice with the team as early as Wednesday.
  • With Williams and Lichtensteiger sitting out, Morgan Moses and Josh LeRibeus both got the nod to work with the starting unit today.
  • Colt McCoy saw opportunities with the second team unit today and looked better than previous lesser outings.
  • Preston Smith struggled against both Moses as well as third string tackle Takoby Cofield in one-on-one passing drills.
  • Robert Griffin III continues to be fairly sharp during training camp and had looked to improve his deep ball, which was a let down last year for the team whether it be under or overthrown balls. In one particular play today he hit Ryan Grant 40 yards down the field in stride does the sidelines.

For more updates about Redskins training camp come back and visit District Sports Page.

Important Dates:

  • Training camps is officially ongoing and will last until Sunday, August 16th. See a full schedule of the Redskins training camp practices here.
  • Travel to Cleveland for first preseason matchup against the Browns on Thursday, August 13 (at 8 PM) in 11 days.
  • Season and home opener against Miami Dolphins on Sunday, September 13 in 42 days.

Washington Redskins: 2015 Training Camp Day 3 Observations

After yesterday was headlined by the signing of ex-Saint OLB Junior Galette and the suspension and later MCL injury of CB Baushad Breeland, today was highlighted by the first padded practice of the 2015 season.

In a post-walkthrough press conference, Brandon Scherff started out by continuing the complimentary remarks towards offensive line coach Bill Callahan describing him as a grinder. After the Redskins made a smart financial move in cutting RG Chris Chester, they are looking to fill the role through a variety of candidates including last year’s third rounder Spencer Long and this year’s fourth rounder Arie Kouandjio. Scherff remarked that he would be “pretty comfortable” if he were asked to take on the guard position. However, that would leave a void at right tackle that would otherwise have to be filled by veteran Tom Compton or last years third round pick Morgan Moses. Scherff has been taking a majority of his reps at right tackle where head coach Jay Gruden says Ryan Kerrigan is “showing him the ropes” across the line. Gruden also hinted that as expected Scherff will be the Week 1 starter when referencing that he will have Dolphins pass rusher Cameron Wake to handle.

Later in a pre-practice press conference, Jay Gruden confirmed the reports of a MCL injury to Breeland and that being sidelined 4-6 weeks is close to a best case scenario after the scary scene at yesterday’s practice. Week 2, the first game Breeland is eligible is seven weeks away from tomorrow. Breeland would later take to Twitter to apologize for a mistake he made last year as a “boy” and will continue to grind to help his team as a “man” that he grown into. The Redskins made a move to sign CB Deshazor Everett to the current 90 man roster, a possible reactionary move to having one less corner in training camp. Gruden would also remark that Justin Rogers and rookies Tevin Mitchel and S Kyshoen Jarrett will get reps in the slot at CB. During practice Rogers took snaps in the slot with the first unit tandem of David Amerson and Chris Culliver. DeAngelo Hall had a scheduled day off and Tevin Mitchel was sidelined with a sore right shoulder. Although the Redskins have significantly upgraded their talent in the secondary, the new personnel is leading to some miscommunication problems that will have to be worked out before the Dolphins visit FedEx Field in over a month.

Gruden mentioned that pass rusher Galette is still a couple of days from practicing with the team while he becomes settled in the new environment. For the second straight day, Galette worked off to the side. Today Galette was working on hand techniques with GrandMaster Joe Kim, a black belt in Taekwondo. Childhood buddies of Chris Baker and Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton have seen to taken the troubled OLB under their wing as the newest addition to their pass rushing unit of “Capital Punishment”.

Practice Notes and Evaluations

  • Redskins running back unit worked on ball security and blocking for much of their individual sets prior to scrimmages.
  • Andre Roberts, Ryan Grant, and Kory Lichtensteiger were a few notable players who were putting in extra work in after practice.
  • In our first look at Robert Griffin III in pads, he was again accurate in one on one drills where he rewarded his receivers for running crisp routes and breaking away from coverage. Griffin also had a nice play to turn a play where he was pressured into a positive dump off. Although they may be baby steps, the improvement is clear.
  • Probably the most excited Redskins player about being in full gear is the physical running of Matt Jones. Jones ran hard and on one particular instance pushed the pule ahead for a double digit yardage gain.
  • Those in the punt return rotation to start practice included Andre Roberts, Jamison Crowder, Rashad Ross, and Trey Williams. It is clear that the Redskins want to protect DeSean Jackson from any possible danger although he could be called upon for a big play if the game were to require it.
  • Jamison Crowder has previously stated that his game is quickness and not as much speed. Regardless he is one of the, if not the, fastest player on the field. Today he was utilized on an end around carry that picked up a good chuck of yards before he was even touched.

For more updates about Redskins training camp come back and visit District Sports Page.

Important Dates:

  • Training camps is officially ongoing and will last until Sunday, August 16th. See a full schedule of the Redskins training camp practices here.
  • Travel to Cleveland for first preseason matchup against the Browns on Thursday, August 13 in 12 days.
  • Season and home opener against Miami Dolphins on Sunday, September 13 in 43 days.

Washington Redskins: 2015 Training Camp Day 2 Observations- Galette signed, Breeland suspended/hurt, and more

Although today was the second day of training camp, the headlines came from the Redskins signing ex-Saint Junior Galette to a one year deal as well as the suspension and later injury of/to Baushad Breeland all within hours.

Galette’s agent Alvin Keels has said that the deal will be for the league minimum and that the ex-Saint is looking to show he is grateful for the second chance without worrying about the money. At such a low price for a talent that would be tied for the team high in sacks over the past two years (22 with his new bookend Ryan Kerrigan), the deal was hard to pass up after he passed his physical which showed a healthy pectoral muscle that he previously injured. Galette could still could be suspended for his domestic violence allegations. Ian Rapoport reports that the Redskins believe strongly in their already established character on the defensive unit that they can bring in a player with some red flags and still make things work. If this comes to fruition, the Redskins should have no difficulties causing havoc on opposing quarterbacks throughout next season. Galette came out to a side field and did some casual running and cutting.

Another story on the defense stems back to when nearly a year ago, Baushad Breeland was cited for marijuana possession on the campus of VCU. Now the NFL has decided to spite the Redskins and Breeland with a one game suspension handed down to last year’s breakout rookie. Although Breeland will miss the season opener against the Dolphins in a bit over a month, the Redskins should a competent starting duo of DeAngelo Hall and Chris Culliver at corner back.

Things went from bad to worse for Breeland later in the day in practice when he lined up against speedster DeSean Jackson. After both players sprinted down field to start the route, Jackson cut quickly back towards the line of scrimmage where Breeland lost his footing and fell with his right leg folding up under neath him. The dreaded cart was used to escort the corner off the field, which had fans fearing for the worse. CSN’s Tarik El-Bashir has reported that Hall and David Amerson have been told that the injury might not be as bad as it looked. Hall also added that it’s not an ACL tear according to initial reports but nothing is conclusive yet. You can see full footage of the injury courtesy of NBC4. UPDATE: According to ESPN’s John Keim, Breeland will miss 4-6 weeks with an MCL injury in his knee which could put him in jeopardy for playing Week 2 vs. St. Louis Rams.

In a press conference with the media after the morning walk through, Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton was quite complimentary of the defensive line unit the group calls “Capital Punishment”. Knighton said, “what I think makes us unique is everyone brings something different to the group.” Knighton will likely see playing time along side Stephen Paea, Ricky Jean Francois, Jason Hatcher, Chris Baker, and others. Knighton commented that his style of play includes “taking on blocks, shedding blocks, and being disruptive in my own way”. The former Bronco also stated that the offensive line unit has a “good group”. Let’s not get out of hand on predicting playoffs, but it is safe to say that the team is greatly upgraded the talent on their team.

Practice Notes and Evaluations

  • Kickoff Duties: Niles Paul, Jamison Crowder, Andre Roberts, and Chris Thompson are the notables with others not expected to make the roster sprinkled in. It could be a toss up with the incumbent Roberts possibly being pushed by 4th rounder Crowder or possibly third string running back Thompson.
  • Players are still running laps or doing push ups after committing a false start or dropping interceptions. Yesterday Brandon Scherff faced the penalty while today rookie T out of Duke Takoby Cofield completed the punishment.
  • Griffin is still using his mobility to scramble out of the pocket. Today he has had completions to Jackson and Crowder on otherwise potentially negative plays.
  • Kirk Cousins had a relatively poor game yesterday but responded with better play today.

For more updates about Redskins training camp come back and visit District Sports Page.

Important Dates:

  • Training camps is officially ongoing and will last until Sunday, August 16th. See a full schedule of the Redskins training camp practices here.
  • Travel to Cleveland for first preseason matchup against the Browns on Thursday, August 13 in 13 days.
  • Season and home opener against Miami Dolphins on Sunday, September 13 in 44 days.

Washington Redskins: 2015 Training Camp Day 1 Observations

The Washington Redskins started training camp today with a relaxed walk through session at 10:35 AM, which will be followed by a practice at 3 PM without pads during the sweltering heat in Richmond, VA.

To start the day, it was promising to see offensive line guru Bill Callahan being the first guy out for the start of Redskins training camp. Moreover, Callahan made his unit work extra after practice had finished to try and whip them into a cog similarly to what he was able to do in Dallas. How quickly Callahan can develop the offensive line that was horrendous last year will have a lot to do with the success or lack thereof for the offense, Robert Griffin III, and quite frankly the entire team.

Trent Williams confirmed what head coach Jay Gruden noted yesterday by saying his ankle felt good. The Silverback is also proud that he kept the weight that he shed last suffer off, which in turn is making him faster. The Pro Bowl left tackle also said he was not worried about his contract situation after Ryan Kerrigan was the first Redskins first round selection to be extended since another great left tackle Chris Samuels.

Like Williams, DeAngelo Hall says he feels great. The veteran corner says he will line up with the first team and take as many reps as he wants while also listening to his body. Jay Gruden said that until proven otherwise Hall will be a starter for the team after suffering two tears of his Achilles tendon last season, but names like last year’s rookie sensation Baushad Breeland and/or free agent pick up Chris Culliver could push him for playing time in non-nickle or dime packages.

In Griffin’s post-walk through press conference, he was optimistic and excited because what they are going to continue training and preparing for the start of the 2015 season that they are working hard to turn into a success. The Redskins quarterback was asked about the same critics that Jay Gruden addressed yesterday as having little credibility with the idea that you cannot worry about anyone else because at the end of the day he plays for his teammates and the city. Also, contrary to what others have reported about Griffin’s insubordination in running certain plays, he said there is no middle ground needed between his skill’s and Gruden’s offense because “whatever Jay wants to run we’re going to run”. Nothing can be based on one practice, but RG3 was on a streak early where no balls were hitting the ground; 100% completion rate. Yes it was no contact, yes it was without pads, but his decision making seems to be sped up and his footwork looks more coordinated with his body.

A big story that was reported yesterday by NFL Network’s Albert Breer is that the Redskins are bringing in ex-Saints LB Junior Galette for a visit. Galette was arrested in January for allegedly assaulting a woman as she left his house. This woman was also amongst a group of others who were being hit with a belt by a man that resembles Galette. The talented pass rusher was also kicked out of Temple in college for additional off the field issues. The Redskins were noted to have taken certain players like Randy Gregory, La’el Collins, and others off of their draft board because of off the field baggage, but the 22 sacks that Galette has accumulated over the past two seasons is impressive.

Nothing is set in stone yet as Scot McCloughan and Bruce Allen will try to get a better feel for if they can avoid any off the field issues in the coming season with the 27 year old; it is still set to be decided whether Galette could face a suspension punishments from the NFL for the aforementioned assault allegations. Gruden went on to detail that although he has had some issues in the past, the Redskins would “like to draw our own conclusion”. The process is ongoing and still “very early” as the physical has not yet been administered, though it is planned to be conducted. According to ESPN’s John Keim, Galette is now expected to also meet with coaches while six other interested teams hope he leaves DC without a contract.

Galette would likely be the ROLB, replacing Brian Orakpo as Ryan Kerrigan’s book end, but currently the competition is between the second round selections from the past two years: Trent Murphy and Preston Smith. Although much can change, Murphy is hinted to have the current edge in the competition possibly because of his work in the weight room to reshape his body.

Yesterday Gruden was asked about the conditioning of his players and said he would have to evaluate them once seeing them in practice. Today the Redskins finished practice with sideline to sideline sprints, a trick Gruden might have picked up from Patriot’s head coach Bill Belichick during last years joint practices between the teams.

For more updates about Redskins training camp come back and visit District Sports Page.

Important Dates:

  • Training camps is officially ongoing and will last until Sunday, August 16th. See a full schedule of the Redskins training camp practices here.
  • Travel to Cleveland for first preseason matchup against the Browns on Thursday, August 13 in 14 days.
  • Season and home opener against Miami Dolphins on Sunday, September 13 in 45 days.

 

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