September 5, 2015

Washington Redskins: Preseason Week 3 vs. Ravens What to Watch For

The soap opera drama with the Washington Redskins has returned unfortunately, things are getting bleak early and tomorrow’s showing against the Baltimore Ravens could be the beginning of the end.

After more participating in the blame game by Robert Griffin III towards the coaching staff starting with Jay Gruden regarding whether the starting quarterback suffered a concussion when sustaining several blows last Thursday against the Lions.

With the third preseason game often being the dress rehearsal for week one of the regular season, there are infinite things to watch for. Here we highlight five big idea areas to watch out for:

  • In limited playing time so far, Griffin has underwhelmed though it has not all been his fault. He had a long touchdown dropped by Pierre Garcon and had next to know blind side protection from Willie Smith. None the less it is time for Griffin to put his money where his mouth is because another underwhelming performance could cause the quarterback controversy to really heat up and lead to Gruden possibly questioning his QB1 status. Though it will take a completely dreaded performance for Griffin to be benched prior to the start of the regular season, his starting role is not set in stone as well as it was as recently as a couple of weeks ago.
  • The offensive line HAS to improve. A quarterback cannot be successful when getting hit on 75% of dropbacks as Griffin was last week. The return of the Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams will be a huge plus over the journeyman tackle Willie Smith who could find himself unemployed by final cuts on September 5th. If the young core on the right side of the line of Brandon Scherff and Morgan Moses can rebound after a poorer showing last week, Griffin should have enough time. The only way to start truly evaluating Griffin is when all the pieces around him are in place as they would be in the regular season and that starts with the men that protect him.
  • When Junior Galette went down with a torn Achilles injury before even taking a game snap with the Redskins, it was a huge loss that DeAngelo Hall put it as losing the missing piece to the defense. It is hard to argue with the corner when he loose an elite pass rusher that has 22 sacks over the past two seasons. Now it will be up to the likes of developing edge rushers Trent Murphy and rookie Preston Smith to fill the void left by the ex-Saint. It is not the worst possible injury based on the idea that the team has solid depth at the position, but the young outside linebackers are going to be forced to grow up even quicker as they face three first round left tackles prior to All Pro blind side protector in the Eagles’ Jason Peters. Ryan Kerrigan with is locked into the WOLB position might not play for precautionary reasons after having his knee scoped during the offseason.
  • Can the offense continue to improve with Griffin reacquiring dynamic weapons like Jordan Reed and Jamison Crowder? Many of claimed that missing DeSean Jackson, who has a “slim” chance of suiting up tomorrow, has caused some of Griffin’s ineffectiveness so ideally Reed and Crowder will help soften the shoulder injury to the elite deep threat. If healthy, Reed and Crowder have shown that they can create mismatches in one on one coverage which can only help Griffin in his options in the pocket to get rid of the ball more quickly. Crowder reportedly suffered a slight twinge in his hamstring and could be held out further for precautionary reasons.
  • Their are still many position battles going on the fill out the Redskins 53 man roster. Cuts to a 15 man roster will take place nest Tuesday, September 1st so their are individuals who will use the second half of the game to sustain their livelihoods. Backup offensive tackle, wide receivers, and linebackers are positions with spots up for grabs. Look for many decisions to be made based on an individual’s contribution or lack thereof on special teams after losing two aces in Niles Paul and Adam Hayward within the span of a week.

Tomorrow’s dress rehearsal will be the first time all year that predictions based on performance on a larger sample size will not be speculative. None the less do not throw any particular starter under the bus after just over a half of work building up to the start of the regular season.

Check back for a full analysis of the Redskins battling the the Baltimore Ravens after a Saturday night matchup with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 PM.

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 Outlook for Offense

We have now gone through and released our outlook on what to expect from the different units of the Washington Redskins offense. The quarterback position will be mostly determined by Robert Griffin III‘s execution of head coach Jay Gruden‘s offense in his second year. The running backs and receivers for the Redskins is talented but have to be given the opportunity to make plays for the team through Griffin. Finally, the offensive line, which was dreadful last year, will likely be improved but will be dependent on how quickly they grasp Bill Callahan‘s new blocking schemes.

Now we go through and project each unit’s grade during the season and predict the Week 1 depth chart that consists of the 53 man roster, of which we will assume 25 will be on offense. [Read more…]

Washington Redskins: Analysis of Preseason Opener Win over Browns

The Washington Redskins came back to defeat the Cleveland Browns in the preseason opener 20-17. Although it might be nice to win, the meaningless victory came at a steep price due to injuries. Both tight end Niles Paul and running back Silas Redd had to be carted off the field with ankle and knee injuries, respectively.

Head coach Jay Gruden has said disclosed that Paul is OUT for the remainder of the season due to a fractured/dislocated ankle, see . Last year Griffin had a similar injury but avoided the fracture as his ligaments were still in place. This is not only devastating news to Paul who was penciled in as the starting tight end, but for the team as well because of the possible season ending toe injury for blocking tight end Logan Paulsen.

With the injury prone Jordan Reed already nursing a sore hamstring that kept him out of last nights game, expect the team to add another tight end to the roster. Chase Dixon is one of the last tight ends standing for the team and had one nice catch and run in the game. And although it seemed preposterous before, the chances of former Redskin and ESPN980 commentator Chris Cooley getting a call have gone up slightly.

As for Redd, we are still waiting on the official MRI results but the team is seriously worried about possible ligament tears to the ACL and/or MCL. Unfortunately for last year’s third string running back, Redd will likely not even be able to earn a practice squad spot though the team may waive injury him in order to place him on injured reserve.

Now to the game. Things could have gone better for the starters but things were certainly not terrible. After the quarter, where the 15 minutes were played primarily by projected Week 1 starters, the Redskins were outscored 7-3. Things could have easily been different if Pierre Garcon makes the play on a catchable deep ball that would have resulted in a touchdown. Defensively, Chris Culliver was incorrectly penalized for pass interference, could have easily been called offensive, that resulted in a 35 yard penalty and eventually a Browns touchdown.

Now lets get to the quarterbacks. Robert Griffin III played ok, Kirk Cousins played great (take it with a grain of salt as he was playing a backup defense), and Colt McCoy played the role of a game manager to close out the victory. For a full analysis of the all three quarterbacks performance click here.

For the running backs, who are probably still getting acclimated with the power running game of of offensive line coach Bill Callahan showed out well by gaining 133 yards in the game. Alfred Morris did his usual thing always picking up positive yardage and converted a 4th and 1. Matt Jones had a couple of highlight runs before not re-entering the game after passing the concussion protocol. Trey Williams had his moments including a touchdown run, but did not do much to overtake Chris Thompson‘s current third string running back spot. You can find a full analysis of the Redskins backfield performance here.

Overall the defense did a fairly good job considering the Browns started in Redskins territory three times (twice off fumbles, once after long kickoff return) and also had a pass interference go against Culliver early on. The defense as a unit throughout the game gave up 170 yards and no points when not put in a tough position. The increase in pressure on the quarterback, with blitzing, was evident as the team notched five sacks and many more hurries that were alluded by the scrambling of Josh McCown and Johnny Manziel. The unit also totaled 7 pass deflections and one turnover on a nice last second reaction by safety Akeem Davis on a pass the went through the intended receivers hands.

Now lets take a look at whose stock is rising and whose is falling as the Redskins continue their evaluation process to cut their roster to 53 players by Friday, September 4th.

  • UP: WR Rashad Ross. Arguably the fastest player on the team behind maybe DeSean Jackson, the Arizona State product showed he wants to be the sixth wide receiver on this roster. Ross finished with 5 receptions, on 7 targets, for 68 yards. Behind the likes of Jackson, Garcon, Andre RobertsJamison Crowder, and Ryan Grant, there is likely just one wide receiver position remaining on the roster. Many have penciled in sixth round pick Evan Spencer out of Ohio State in the role, but Ross looks to change that and will if he keeps up this performance.
  • DOWN: WR Andre Roberts. Although the former Cardinal led the way with a game high 71 yards receiving on four receptions, a mighty miscue in the return game is what lands him on this list. The Redskins were highly criticized for not only their special teams coverage but also returns last year as they ranked near the bottom in the league in the field position battle. Roberts played the primary role has both the kickoff and punt returner. Last night, Roberts did a little too much dancing east and west and was stripped from behind giving the Browns a short field. Roberts will make the roster simply because he signed a 4 year $16 million deal last offseason, but the miscues have to be corrected for consistent playing time.
  • UP: K Kai Forbath. After having a rough start to training camp that Gruden called “puzzling”, the former Lou Groza award winner is returning to his accurate nature as his confidence continues to mount. After making a 33-yard field goal, not the same distance as an extra point, Forbath also nailed a 52 yard attempt just before halftime. This drew a double arm pump into the air from Gruden who was definitely excited for his kicker. Now if only he could get more distance on his kickoffs.
  • DOWN: G Arie Kouandjio. The rookie fourth round pick out of Alabama was reported early on to possibly push Spencer Long for the starting position at right guard. Everything changed once Brandon Scherff was kicked inside making Kouandjio the backup right guard in last nights game. Twice Kouandjio was slow to get outside on screen passes which meant his man had a free shot at Chris Thompson resulting in a total net of -12 yards. Kouandjio will likely make the team with Long as the backup guards because he is not being pushed too hard by Josh LeRibeus, but improvements will surely be addressed in practice.

There is a lot for the coaches to look at from this game and make improvements on in practice to see development in the rest of the preseason. Excluding the terrible injuries to both Paul and Redd, there were pleasant bright spots for the Redskins to take away.

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 6 days on 8/20 at 7:30 PM.
  • The final cuts to a 53 man roster will take place over the next 22 days by 9/4.
  • Season and home opener against Miami Dolphins on Sunday, September 13 in 31 days.

Washington Redskins: Analysis of Quarterback Play in Preseason Opener Win

This was the highly anticipated 2015 debut for Robert Griffin III as fans wanted to see if he has actually been improving from a dreadful 2014 campaign. Griffin played well at times although things were not perfect. Kirk Cousins played well in a backup role facing off against inferior talents so he picked them apart as he should have. Colt McCoy came in with a lead and kept it that way by chewing up clock in the 4th quarter.

On Griffin’s first drive, the Redskins starter converted his first third down attempt with a nice throw on an out route to Ryan Grant, who was starting in place of the injured DeSean Jackson. Two plays later on a decently executed play action fake that resulted in the safety being frozen, Pierre Garcon got behind the defense and was wide open. Although Garcon got turned around by the throw, it is a pass that was well located and caught by all NFL receivers 9 out of 10 times. You can see the play of Garcon’s drop, which resulted in the drive to stall, below.

On the next, and last offensive drive for the offense, Griffin again converted his first third down of the series by making a decisive decision to run up the middle after seeing his first two reads covered. It is encouraging to see that RG3 did not just take off immediately or scramble in the pocket after not having anyone open. He saw the void in the middle of the field and used his athleticism to extend the drive as he should have. Later in the drive, on a boot leg that drew three defenders in heavy pursuit of Griffin, the Redskins quarterback hung in there and made a throw to Ryan Grant for a big gainer while fading to his left. After converting a 4th and 1, the drive would stall after Griffin was unable to execute a fade route in the red zone and the team would settle for a field goal.

Kirk Cousins did Kirk Cousins stuff, he came in and took advantage of the mismatches he had on the field. Particularly with Andre Roberts, who after fumbling a punt return attempt, came back to have a decent receiver performance. On Cousins’ first drive, he utilized his own athleticism by completing three passes off of scramble drills and another on a nice catch by Roberts down the sidelines. The drive was capped off by nothing other than a Cousins read option touchdown from four yards out that no one ever expects.

On Cousins’ second drive, he got help from his running game which opened things up for his quick read completions on short routes. The drive would then stall after Cousins took a bad sack because of not getting rid of the ball quick enough the team again settled for three. Coming back out for the second half, Cousins got on a roll with his backup wide receivers. The possessions was capped up with a Trey Williams rushing touchdown which would be the last score of the game.

Colt McCoy came in just before the start of the fourth quarter and played fine. After coming in backed up to his own three yard line, McCoy put together a nice drive to flip field position before turning the ball over on downs on a 4th and 2 attempt outside of field goal range. The Redskins would go three and out on the next two possessions, but that is not entirely McCoy’s fault has reserve running back Mack Brown carried the ball five out of six times for just 8 yards. McCoy would take one final knee that would run the clock out and give the Redskins a victory.

Final Stat Lines:

  • Griffin: 4/8 for 36 yards, No TDs, No INTs, No sacks, 1 rush for 3 yards, 62.5 QBR (144.2 if Garcon catches potential 61 yard touchdown)
  • Cousins: 12/14 for 154 yard, No TDs, No INTs, 1 sack, 1 rush for 4 yard TD, 112.5 QBR
  • McCoy: 4/6 for 33 yards, No TDs, No INTS, No sacks, 3 rushes for 14 yards, 80.6 QBR

Overall, all three quarterbacks did their jobs. Cousins’ performance against backups is not nearly close enough to take away Griffin’s starting job as he did throw deep into double coverage a couple times which could have resulted in his patented interceptions against starters. Cousins did however better solidify his role as the second string quarterback ahead of veteran McCoy. In the end there are still three preseason games to still determine the improvements made by Griffin and the pecking order behind him.

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 6 days on 8/20 at 7:30 PM.
  • The final cuts to a 53 man roster will take place over the next 22 days by 9/4.
  • Season and home opener against Miami Dolphins on Sunday, September 13 in 31 days.

Washington Redskins: 2015 Season Position Outlooks- Receivers

After playing second fiddle to Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon signed a 5 year deal with the Washington Redskins for $42.5 million. Garcon is the only top five receiver from the Redskins 2012 roster that is still on the team. Santana Moss (FA), Leonard Hankerson (Atlanta), Josh Morgan (New Orleans), and Fred Davis (FA) are no longer with the team.

To supplement the loss of role players in the receiving game, the Redskins signed Andre Roberts, who similarly to Garcon was tired of backing up Larry Fitzgerald and Malcolm Floyd, to a 4 year $16 million deal. Little did the Redskins know that DeSean Jackson would be released by the Eagles allowing Washington to swoop in and sign an elite deep threat to a 4 year $24 million deal.

The Redskins return these three core wide receivers to the roster in 2015 and have also added the likes of fourth round pick Jamison Crowder from Duke University and sixth round pick Evan Spencer out of Ohio State. The Redskins also have last year’s fifth round pick Ryan Grant on the roster to likely round out the team’s wide receiver unit.

At tight end, the Redskins had spent a 2013 third round pick on the dynamic receiving threat in Jordan Reed, converted their 2011 fifth round pick Niles Paul from WR to TE, and have the lumberjack blocking tight end Logan Paulsen who is primarily used in the run game. Although Paul is currently listed as the starting tight end on the first official depth chart, it is much more likely that Reed will be more frequently utilized when it comes to the receiving aspects of the job title.

When healthy and playing at the top of their game, Garcon and Jackson are both threats to gain over 1,000 yards through the air each. The same could possibly be said for Reed as well but his inability to stay healthy throughout the course of a 16 game season has deprived us of seeing the former Gator take advantage of constant mismatches. Niles Paul has shown the ability last season to fill in when necessary, but does not have the same natural ability that Reed possesses.

For Roberts and Crowder, most of their playing time will come out of the slot position in three wide receiver sets. After a poor season last year where Roberts did not catch 50% of the balls he was intended for (36 of 73), the ex-Cardinal could be pushed for playing time. Crowder has lit it up in training camp thus far with his quickness. It is likely that Roberts will continue to be the first option out of the slot, but Crowder will see the playing time he has already earned.

Whether it is Roberts or Crowder, the double team that Jackson and at times Garcon demands results in opportunities for others. When facing single coverage against nickle corners the Redskins have to hope to take advantage of underneath routes when the deep patterns are taken away. Quick easy reads could also assist in the continued development of Robert Griffin III. As mentioned in the position outlook on quarterbacks, it will be up to Griffin to utilize the talented receiving weapons around him in order to return the offense to an effective form.

Projected Week 1 Depth Chart:

  • WR1: DeSean Jackson, Ryant Grant
  • WR2: Pierre Garcon, Evan Spencer
  • Slot WR: Andre Roberts, Jamison Crowder
  • TE: Jordan Reed, Niles Paul, Logan Paulsen

Come back and visit District Sports Page for the next position outlook on the much improved offensive line tomorrow.

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 Season Position Outlooks: Quarterbacks

Last year the Washington Redskins were an absolute mess at the quarterback position, doomed as soon as Robert Griffin III went down with a serious ankle injury early in a Week 2 encounter with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The 2012 rookie of the year missed six weeks with the injury leading to Kirk Cousins getting the nod to take Griffin’s place. Due to ineffectiveness, Cousins was replaced at halftime during a Week 7 game against the Tennessee Titans by third string QB Colt McCoy. After leading the Redskins to a comeback win against the Titans, McCoy kept it going with a win at Dallas.

Although at an all-time high, McCoy was not given the opportunity to start the following week once Griffin was cleared to return. Three straight losses later and Griffin was benched for the offenses’s lack of scoring and McCoy got another opportunity. Although in a losing effort against the Colts, McCoy jump started the offense but was let down by his miserable defense. However after McCoy was shutout the next week against the Rams, Griffin was given back his starting quarterback title where he finished the season 1-2 against the NFC East. [Read more…]

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 Minicamp, Day 1 Practice Observations

Today marked the first mandatory offseason practice of the 2015 season and all healthy Washington Redskins players took part including DeSean Jackson, who was excused from portions of the voluntary OTAs. As a reminder, the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) prohibits live contact during minicamp practices as well as the use of equipment pads. Minicamp is a three day set of practices before a six week layoff that build up to the start of training camp starting in the end of July.

Coach Jay Gruden has been nothing of complimentary to his coaching staff and has reiterated that he loves all of their enthusiasm, much of that was on display today. To start the practice, special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica, a holdover from last year, had his unit working on punt and kickoff coverage while the other starters were still stretching out.

New defensive backs coach Perry Fewell was described as a great person that has been productive in all situations according to Gruden. The head coach laughingly conveyed that coming from the Giants, the Redskins might have an edge against the division foe in the coming season. Gruden also spoke about Fewell’s boss’s energy, new defensive coordinator Joe Barry, which he described as “a consistent upbeat, positive influence on our team and he’s always coaching”. Although contact is not allowed, Barry installed a tackling drill that featured shedding a blocker, hitting a tackling dummy, and landing on a large pad. In a lesser known addition to the coaching staff, Assistant Strength & Conditioning/Skill Development Coach Joe Kim was given praise by Coach Gruden because of his past experience in developing the pass rush of the likes of Justin Houston and Tamba Hali.

As Gruden had stated during OTAs, Bill Callahan, new offensive line coach, is effective in his hands-on style of teaching. The lineman guru, who turned the Cowboys line into arguably the best unit in football last year, was under center taking snaps during positional drills to get a perfect view of his unit’s progress. In case you missed it, the current starting offensive line with Trent Williams currently sidelined is (from left to right): Tom Compton, Shawn Lauvao, Kory Lichtensteiger, Spencer Long, and Brandon Scherff.

Per usual, starting quarterback Robert Griffin III headlined talks both on and off the practice field. Griffin has shown noticeable improvement in his reads since a miserable performance throughout the season last year. When given the time, Griffin surveyed all of his options and make the right reads and accurate throws to his receivers. During 11-on-11 scrimmage, he hit Pierre Garcon for a 15-yard gain, while hitting DeSean Jackson along the sidelines during 7-on-7 drills to beat newly acquired corner Chris Culliver. Griffin later had a 70-yard touchdown bomb to Andre Roberts during the one minute drill; granted Baushad Breeland fell down in coverage, but the former offensive rookie of the year may have missed that read last season.

Coach Gruden continued the same tune that Griffin has been getting a little better each and every day and that is exactly what they ask from him. Griffin was described as starting to have confidence in the pocket by “doing a great job of exhausting all of his progressions, playing the quarterback position with good fundamentals”. Gruden did admit that it is likely that Griffin’s second go-round in a more complex system has helped his development. The second-year head coach went so far to call Griffin a “very gifted quarterback” and chuckled when explaining that “Robert’s going to be Robert” when the pocket breaks down insinuating the use of the former track star’s mobility.

There was little to talk about in the battle for the backup quarterback job. Kirk Cousins was given the opportunity to start with the second unit in 11-on-11 drills, but it seems to be alternating from back in OTAs so do not read too much into it. Cousins did a solid job when practicing as he repeatedly put the ball where it needed to be. The Michigan State product also showed his fleet of foot by avoiding a miscommunicated blitz and completing the play. Cousins’s lone miscue was missing rookie receiver Colin Lockett, who tipped a pass into the bread basket rookie corner Tajh Hasson for an interception.

Colt McCoy was also efficient in dissecting many of the undrafted free agents the Redskins brought into camp. Both backup signal callers received help from their receivers, Ryan Grant and Roberts, who made tremendous grabs to make their QBs look good.

One of the hardest things to watch with the Redskins last year was the self-inflicted wounds that just made the game so heart breaking. Gruden is having it none of that this year because he knows you cannot go from the bottom to the top without perfecting what is in your control. If a defensive back dropped a potential interception during a positional drill, they did push-ups. If an offensive lineman had a false start, they ran a lap around the field and were replaced on the ensuing play.

Injury Updates:

  • Those players who are already rehabbing from injury will NOT practice during minicamp, but home to be back by the start of training camp at 100 percent.
  • DeAngelo Hall went through positional drills with comfort. The veteran was held out of the scrimmages for precautionary reasons. During the 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drives, Hall worked on the side simulating dropping into coverage, cutting and then catching passes.
  • Silas Redd has started to turn a few heads during practice; on one instance he had an excellent cut to get to open field. However, the Penn State product tweaked his ankle and will be held out of the rest of minicamp. That could open the door for Chris Thompson to secure a position as the third string running back behind Alfred Morris and rookie Matt Jones.
  • Trent Williams (left ankle), Jordan Reed (knee procedure), and Ryan Kerrigan (knee scope) were all non-participants during practice but are all expected to return for training camp.

Important Dates:

  • Minicamp runs through Thursday, June 18.
  • Training camps starts on Thursday, July 30 in 44 days.
  • Travel to Cleveland for first preseason matchup against the Browns on Thursday, August 13 in 58 days.
  • Season and home opener against Miami Dolphins on Sunday, September 13 in 89 days.
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