April 21, 2019

Washington Redskins: Preseason Week 2 vs. Lions What to Watch For

If you think you can make generalizations about the Washington Redskins outlook for the regular season from last weeks play, you are probably wrong. The sample size is simply too small. The starters played roughly a quarter and were not 100% healthy. Robert Griffin III only threw the ball a grand total of eight times, and saying that Kirk Cousins‘s stellar play against backups and soon to be unemployed players is worthy of a starting job is preposterous.

Unfortunately we are not going to see too much more from the starters this week when they host the Lions either. Head coach Jay Gruden said the first units will likely go at least a quarter and possibly a little beyond that based on how many snaps each side gets. In short, it will be tough to evaluate the play of the starters again. Starting with the third preseason game against the Ravens, where the starters could play upwards of three quarters, we might be able to make small generalizations.

But just because there is a limited sample size to evaluate from the starters from does not mean that the second preseason game is not worth watching. Like last week, it will be a great opportunity for those further down the depth chart to showcase why they think they should be on the 53 man roster.

  • Colt McCoy orchestrating the backup offense. With all the talk that Cousins should be the starter over RG3 last week, many forgot that there is currently an open competition for the backup quarterback spot. This week it will be McCoy’s chance to light it up against backups after taking a game managing role last week to close out the win over the Browns. Cousins seems to have put himself ahead in the race and a bad showing by the Texas product could seal his fate as the third string QB.
  • The running attack as the power run scheme of Bill Callahan continues to develop. Last week we saw Alfred Morris and Matt Jones combine for three explosive runs. We saw the physicality level increase and we shall watch for more of the same. It will not show in preseason, but during the regular season that will result in the wearing down of the defensive line. We should also look for Chris Thompson to continue providing a change of pace option for the Redskins in his search to secure his third string running back spot after Silas Redd tore his ACL/MCL last week. NOTE: Redd did clear waivers and was placed on the Redskins injured reserve list joining the likes of Niles Paul and Logan Paulsen.
  • The right side of the offensive line with the combination of Brandon Scherff at guard and Morgan Moses at tackle. Last week the young duo was never put in too many tough positions and held their own against a talented Browns front seven. The more time they get together the more comfortable they should become. This week and the rest of preseason will be used to continue their development in hopes of producing an upgrade from last year.
  • Although there a handful of injuries to notable defenders for the Redskins, the starters are more or less penciled in. It will be nice to see a couple of three and outs with a turnover from the improved unit, but they will have their hands full with Calvin Johnson. It will be interesting to watch who takes on the assignment of the 6′ 5” Megatron as Chris Culliver is more of a slot corner, while DeAngelo Hall might not be able to go with a toe injury. From the front seven, the degree of pressure and effectiveness in stopping the run will be worth observing.
  • The dreaded special teams, can we see improvement? Kicker Kai Forbath has been inconsistent in practice thus far but if he continues his strong play in game time situations all will be set. The former Lou Groza award winner however HAS to try and get his kickoffs deeper in the end zone because the return coverage is still exposed constantly. For the Redskins own return options, watch of Andre Roberts, Chris Thompson, and possibly Rashad Ross get a crack at the duties while rookie Jamison Crowder is likely to sit with a hamstring injury.

Although there are key pieces of the game to watch for as detailed above, there will be little support for wild speculation even if the team executes perfectly or not at all.

Check back on Friday morning for a full analysis of the Redskins hosting of the Detroit Lions after doing battle Thursday Night with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 PM.

Washington Redskins: 2015 Training Camp Day 18 Observations

It’s here the last day of training camp (open to the public). The team will go through a light walk through tomorrow before returning back to Redskins Park in Ashburn, VA for a full practice Tuesday.

As head coach Jay Gruden disclosed yesterday, the Redskins brought in tight end prospects after being put into a delicate situation when they lost Niles Paul in a costly preseason win. The Redskins brought in three players today including former Iowa State player Ernst Brun, UMass product Jean Sifrin, and ex-Packer DJ Williams. Brun had 26 receptions for 330 yards in 2012, but only 6 catches for 47 yards in 2013 due to an injury riddled season. Williams was a 5th round draft pick by the Packers back in 2011 and had 9 catches for 70 yards over two years. In the two years since then he has not recorded a catch when being on the rosters of the Jaguars, Patriots, and Buccaneers.

Brun was signed by the Redskins who Gruden said “had a good workout today, and we thought we would give him a shot”, while Sifrin left without a contract. Williams was also signed after an afternoon workout with the team and could also be used at the fullback position during practice. If you think there is a chance the Redskins still sign former star Chris Cooley after these two moves, general manager Scot McCloughan all but ended anymore possible reports by saying, “I’m not going there. Chris Cooley, he’s a really good Redskin. He’s part of the Redskins still. I’m not going there”. In corresponding moves, Paul and Logan Paulsen were placed on injured reserve, while Silas Redd was waived/injured. The Redskins hope he passes through waivers unlike Tevin Mitchel who was sntached up by the Colts.

Gruden believes the team is “biggers, stronger, and faster” now than they were at the end of last year’s training camp. Part of that has to do with the signing of Junior Galette who Gruden says will bring explosion and disruption.

On another note, Gruden is glad that training camp is over because it allows everyone to get back a sense of normalcy by sleeping in their own beds and returning to Ashburn where the comfort level is higher. The head coach did  note however that training camp is the most important part of the team’s evaluation process to cut the roster down to 53 men.

Practice Notes and Evaluations:

  • Although Robert Griffin III has been known as a more accurate thrower without too many interceptions in his career, the Redskins tarting quarterback had two passes picked off during red zone 7-on-7 drills. Both interceptions were made by FS DaShon Goldson after deflections of which only one was Griffin’s fault.
  • Similarly to yesterday’s practice, the team was allowed to remove their pads which we can assume was because of the heat and banged up nature of the team.
  • Chris Thompson has all but earned himself a spot on the 53 man roster after another practice with good runs including a rushing touchdown coming on 3rd and goal from 5 yards out.
  • More than 30 minutes after practice and officially training camp had come to an end, Griffin and Pierre Garcon were both still on the field getting in reps. Griffin might have wanted to leave training camp on a more positive note after one of his lesser quality practices.

Injury Updates:

  • Although Gruden said DeSean Jackson (shoulder) is “very close” to returning, he still sat out of practice today.
  • Likewise, Jamison Crowder (hamstring) sat out of today’s practice.
  • After sitting out yesterday for precautionary reasons because of a right knee soreness, Trent Williams returned to practice today.
  • Jordan Reed (hamstring) continues to work off to the side and intends to return to practice soon. Tomorrow there will be a short practice before the next full session practice on Tuesday.
  • DeAngelo Hall sprained his left toe during practice today and is being evaluated for his chances of playing Thursday.

Important Dates:

  • Host the Detroit Lions for the second preseason game in 4 days on 8/20 at 7:30 PM.
  • The final cuts to a 53 man roster will take place over the next 20 days by 9/4.
  • Season and home opener against Miami Dolphins on Sunday, September 13 in 29 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: 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 Running Back Play in Preseason Opener Win

To the running backs who were getting their first taste of game speed contact behind the power running game of offensive line coach Bill Callahan and against the tough “Dawg Pound” run stoppers. Alfred Morris had an ok night running the football finishing with 8 carries for 42 yards. The 5.3 yard per carry average might look great but if you take out a 18 yard run to convert on 4th and 1, Morris could not pass the 3.5 yards per carry clip.

Matt Jones gave Redskins fans something to savor about. The former Gator bruiser finished with 5 caries for 38 yards including two impressive runs within a span of three plays. The first started with a counter play over the right side and after a spin move, the jets, and lowering the shoulder, Matt Jones had a 23 yard gain (see play below). Jones would come back with another 12 yard run which would be his last run of the game after he came out with a possible concussion. Jones was cleared to return back to the game if wanted, but Gruden made the wise choice to rest his third round pick instead of risking possible further injury.

Chris Thompson preformed decently with with 5 carries for 28 yards including a 14 yard burst. Thompson also solidified his spot on the roster with a 32 yard kickoff return, given the opportunity after Andre Roberts was stripped on a punt return. With Silas Redd going down with a gruesome injury, Trey Williams stepped in to rush for 15 yards on 7 carries and score a touchdown. The speedster has his worked cut out for him if he is going to try and push Thompson for the third string running back spot but had a nice play on pass protection that allowed Kirk Cousins to get off a completion to Reggie Bell near the end zone.

The hope is for both Morris and Jones to continue getting better acclimated with the system of Bill Callahan and to grow as the offensive line unit also continues to grow chemistry. Thompson will likely be the true change of pace back for the Redskins and could get extended snaps in screen play situations. Like the quarterbacks, the running backs have three more preseason games to show the coaches what they got heading into Week 1.

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- Running Backs

Alfred Morris was the best draft pick by the Washington Redskins in a long time. The Florida Atlantic product was taken in the sixth round and was known for not being able to hold on to the football. So what does he do? Rushes for 3,962 yards on 4.5 yards per carry, 28 touchdowns, and just 11 fumbles in his young three year career. How is Morris rewarded by new general manager Scot McCloughan? The drafting of a big and physical runner by the name of Matt Jones in the third round.

Unlike what many may think, Matt Jones is not here to take away Morris’s job, at least for now. Beyond this season may be a different story as Morris will be an unrestricted free agent next summer. However, both head coach Jay Gruden and McCloughan have openly stated that they would love to have Alfred back and possibly as a career long Redskin.

A big factor for Morris’s future will be how he can adjust and perform in the power blocking scheme of offensive line coach Bill Callahan, as opposed to the zone running scheme he used to run under Mike and Kyle Shanahan. Some have faulted Morris’s drop in yards per carry from 4.73 in his first two seasons to 4.05 last year to his reliance on athletic quarterback Robert Griffin III drawing extra defenders and/or the toll of 876 carries in a short career taking effect. In essence it might just be a make or break year for Morris this season as it is with many players held over from the pre-McCloughan regime. Regardless, Morris will be given every opportunity, like Griffin, to return to 2012 form in an attempt to revive a franchise.

That said, Matt Jones will see lots of playing time and not just as a third down back. As a physical runner, Jones is well suited for Callahan’s power run game. Just look at what he did to Texans CB Kevin Johnson that is believed to have started brawls the next day. Jones will probably be heavily evaluated during the preseason, assuming he gets over his tweaked knee injury, which Gruden said is not too much to worry about. From their, Jones could develop into simply the back that gives Morris a breather to splitting carries with the Redskins’ work horse. Time will tell but whatever it is, Jones is likely to have a significant impact on the Redskins offense this year.

The Redskins have traditionally only utilized two running backs at a time although always keeping a third available on the active roster. Matt Jones took the backup spot relinquished by Roy Helu Jr. who opted to sign with the Oakland Raiders this off season, but the third string running back spot is still up in the air.

Chris Thompson has had injuries hamper a possibly promising career with the Redskins. The speedster out of Florida State made the team as a fifth round pick his rookie year but later lost his return specialist role to Josh Morgan for ineffectiveness. Thompson would later have his season cut short due to a torn left labrum injury. Last year, Thompson was also dealing with nagging injuries during the offseason which seemed to keep him from performing at his potential. He lost the third-string running back position to rookie Silas Redd but wound up on the team’s practice squad.

Things seem to be different this year as Thompson is healthy and ready to go. Gruden has already given the 24 year old high praise.

“I think Chris Thompson is really starting to emerge as a third-down back, if we can obviously keep him healthy. He’s done an excellent both in the running game and the passing game and he’s done an excellent job in protection so far.”

There is still a lot of time before the cuts to a 53 man roster have to be made including four preseason encounters, but Thompson has put himself firmly in control of his own destiny. Thompson was also listed third on the team’s first official depth chart behind Morris and Jones, but ahead of his competition in Redd and another speedster Trey Williams.

Silas Redd is an overall good running back, but lacks the excellence in any particular area as a running back to take his game to the next level. Williams on the other hand is lightning quick and could leave Thompson in his dust; however at 5′ 7” and 175 pounds, it is possible that Williams’s body would not be able to withstand repeated punishing hits of NFL defenders. With Thompson also listed as the third string kick returner behind WRs Andre Roberts and Jamison Crowder, the FSU product is all but ensured a roster spot (barring injury *knock on wood*). All of this conversation about a third string running back might be mostly irrelevant during the season as Morris and Jones are guaranteed to carry the load. Thompson however, provides the change of pace speed that the Redskins will do without in the loss of Helu.

It should be noted that although not discussed as a back, FB Darrel Young will continue in his role as a primary blocker and short yardage carrier on dive plays.

Projected Week 1 Depth Chart: Alfred Morris, Matt Jones, Chris Thompson, Darrel Young

Come back and visit District Sports Page for the next position outlook on receivers tomorrow.

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 Minicamp, Day 2 Practice Observations

For the last time in a while, the Redskins completed offseason practice on a gloomy day in Ashburn, VA. Minicamp was originally suppose to last three days, but it was decided to wrap it up earlier after just two days, joining the trend of calling minicamp. With the upcoming six-week gap before training camp, much of what follows will be the last taste we have of the Redskins for an extended period of time before the season eventually sneaks up on us.

Although many fans might be hesitant to think that the team is improving after much promise over the past decades, Jay Gruden stated that he is starting to see results with the team. Not so much with the on field performance, but Gruden stated that the Redskins are “physically in better condition”. He thinks, as well as the rest of the DMV hopes, that will have a positive counter impact on game day. The head coach singled out Trent Murphy and Jason Hatcher for proactively getting their bodies in better shapes. [Read more…]

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.

Washington Redskins Select DE/OLB Preston Smith and Trade Down before taking RB Matt Jones on Second Day of NFL Draft

After the Washington Redskins found their potential bookend on the offensive line to complement Trent Williams Thursday in the first round of the NFL Draft in Iowa’s Brandon Scherff, Scot McCloughan looked to continue rebuilding his team in a manner similarly to what he did while with San Francisco and Seattle. With the sixth pick in the second round, the Redskins selected DE/OLB Preston Smith.

Preston Smith is out of Mississippi St. standing at 6’ 5’’ and 271 pounds. Smith had 15 tackles for a loss, nine sacks, and even chipped in with two interceptions last year in the defensive powerhouse of the SEC. Continuing the trend of big nasty guys for McCloughan, Smith has long arms and refuses to get pushed around. Smith is also versatile enough where he can line up anywhere from nose tackle, edge rusher opposite Ryan Kerrigan, or at times in coverage. In a 3-4 system, he should be able to produce enough havoc to make an impact as he plays the run well after shedding blockers. In Jay Gruden’s post game press conference, he confirmed that his versatility was something that sold the team on him.

After being seen as slow on film by some, Smith was a top performer at his position during the combine as he ran the 40 yard dash in in 4.74 seconds, had a broad jump of 121 inches, and completed the 3-cone drill in 7.07 seconds. Smith might be too slow to be an edge rusher, which the Redskins might want to plug him into, but he did speak of the possibility of losing weight to increase his quickness. According to Gruden, Trent Murphy’s status with the team is unaffected as everyone is going to have to compete for their right at playing time.

McCloughan continues to build his team from the inside on both sides of the ball and could continue to do so in the rest of this draft. McCloughan and company must have felt that they wanted Smith badly enough to not attempt to trade down to get to the 10 picks that the Redskins newly hired general manager desired. The New York Giants moved up to the #33 overall pick and the Carolina Panthers moved up to the #41 pick.

S Landon Collins (Alabama) to Giants from Titans, OT Donovan Smith (Penn State) to Buccaneers, DL Mario Edwards (Florida State) to Raiders, RB T.J. Yeldon (Alabama) to Jaguars, and WR Devin Smith (Ohio State) to Jets were all taken before the Redskins pick in the second round.

Washington traded their 69th overall selection to the Seattle Seahawks, McCloughan’s old stomping grounds. The Redskins will receive the 95th, 112th, 167th, and the 181st  overall pick in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th round of the NFL Draft respectively. The trade is relatively even as per the Jimmy Johnson chart, the Redskins give up 245 points and get back 238 (http://walterfootball.com/draftchart.php). McCloughan wanted 10 draft picks in the 2015 draft and now has it by trading down 29 spots to pick up three additional picks.

After the Redskins moved back 26 spots to gain three draft picks from Seattle, Washington ended up drafting RB Matt Jones out of the University of Florida. Jones had a modest 817 yards on about five yards a carry and six touchdowns last season for the Gators in 2014 in a mere five games of work. Jones season was cut short early because of a torn meniscus in his left knee, which took two surgeries to repair in October. As a result, Jones was only projected to be a fifth or sixth round pick in the draft. For a big running back he is relatively athletic and can move the pile, but must develop into a more patient runners as his vision is not great. McCloughan saw his potential as a third down back because he is arguably the best back in pass protection in the draft because he squares up linebackers, whom he has comparable size to.

Jones met with the Redskins in Ashburn and he says that Washington showed him love leading to his good feeling of coming to the nation’s capital. Matt Jones believes he is a complete back and says he patterns his game after Marshawn Lynch (5′ 11”, 215). In the 25 picks that were made between where the Redskins could have picked in the third round and where the eventually did, names like Tevin Coleman (Indiana), Duke Johnson (Miami), and David Johnson (Northern Iowa) came off the board. While some running backs came off the board, the Redskins passed on names like Jay Ajayi out of Boise State and Jeremy Langford from Michigan State. In the coming months, it will be interesting to see how Jones’s rehab continues and how soon he can get back on the field to fight for a position on the Redskins roster with names like Silas Redd, Chris Thompson, and Michael Hill. Gruden elaborated that Alfred Morris would not be affected as the #1 ball carrier for the team.

Moving forward, the Redskins have seven draft picks moving forward in the last four rounds of the NFL Draft starting with the 6th pick tomorrow (105th overall). Gruden stated that there are still a lot of players left in the draft that can still help the Redskins.

%d bloggers like this: