April 19, 2021

Washington Redskins Training Camp Notebook for July 25

by Justin Byram

Here is what you missed from the Washington Redskins second day at training camp:

* You may be able to chalk up the Redskins shaky offensive performance on the first day to rust or the weather conditions. The Redskins offense including RGIII looked much sharper on day two of camp. Coach Jay Gruden challenged the team to respond after a bad first day of practice and was pleased with how they handled it.

“Yeah, I mean, we had to. It wasn’t a very good practice offensively, in a lot of respects,” Gruden said. “The weather had something to do with it – dropped balls – and I just thought the tempo wasn’t as clean and sharp as I would like it and had to challenge them. So they responded very well today.”

* The Redskins’ hottest position battle might just be running back. The only player who should feel completely safe is Alfred Morris, and Roy Helu isn’t far behind him. However, Chris Thompson received praise from Gruden today saying the second year back looked good today. Thompson will battle Lache Seastrunk for the change-of-pace back, and both have the ability to make an impact in the passing game out of the backfield as well (that is still to be determined, and will play a large role in who makes the team).

“He’s got the speed,” Gruden said of Thompson. “He’s got the hands. He’s got the quickness. He’s got everything you’re looking for. We’ve just got to make sure he stays healthy. He’s had a little bit of the injury bug the last couple of years, and – knock on wood – he’s been healthy and he’s looked good. So he’s definitely going to compete for that spot.”

Add Silas Redd to the mix as well, he has looked good so far in camp, and although he has an uphill battle to make the roster he shouldn’t be counted out completely. Another scenario that is unlikely but shouldn’t be ruled out completely is if Seastrunk, Thompson, and Redd all impress during pre-season cutting Roy Helu who is set to make more money this year than work-horse starter Alfred Morris.

* Jay Gruden’s brother and father were visitors to camp today. Jon briefly spoke to the media, and stressed the importance of patience with RGIII’s development. He does have a point, Griffin is currently participating in his first full off-season program, while learning a new offense, and adjusting and attempting to build chemistry with his new targets, not the easiest process and there will be bumps in the road but the sky is still the limit for this offense.

* DeSean Jackson responded to the classic “do you think RG3 will be able to keep all his weapons happy with targets?” Jackson pointed out that he would rather be on a team full of weapons, going on to say that with all the weapons they have it will be difficult to focus or double team one player, and if a defense focuses too much on the receivers RG3 and Morris can hurt opponents with their legs.

“Honestly, me and Andre [Roberts] were just talking about it earlier,” Jackson said. “It’s very dangerous and it’s very scary – I’d rather be on the team that has all the weapons. It just makes it easier for Robert. Actually, me and Andre were saying every play somebody has to be open. With me, Tana [Santana Moss], Pierre [Garçon], J-Reed [Jordan Reed], Roberts, it’s so many options – Alfred Morris. “

“There’s just so many options that regardless of how you play it, somebody’s going to have to keep an eye on RGIII, because if not, he’s going to run. If somebody doesn’t get double teamed, another receiver is going to be open. So like I said, we’re putting in the effort to go out there and just all be open. As long as we’re all open, it makes it easier for RGIII, so that’s what we look forward to.”

Gruden spoke about the flexibility his offense has with all the weapons they have.

“You want to get people involved,” Gruden said. ” That’s what the beauty of this offense hopefully is – being able to spread the ball around. We are able to get the running game involved, we are able to get Andre Roberts, DeSean, and Pierre their touches and Robert [Griffin III] whatever he need to do. Darrel Young, Jordan Reed, even [Logan] Paulsen, we’ve got to try to get everybody involved.”

“When we call a play, we don’t know who the ball is going to. We don’t call a play and say, ‘Throw it to this guy no matter what,’ unless it’s a special circumstance. It’s up to the quarterback to make the reads. Some days DeSean will have 10 catches for 200 yards. Maybe he will have two catches for eight yards. We don’t know how it’s going to play out, how the defenses are going to cover us, but the coverage should dictate where the ball goes and hopefully with the weapons that we have, a certain guy can make a defense play depending on how they are playing us.”

* I love what DeAngelo Hall said to the media, Hall knows he is at the end of his career and is enjoying his time in the NFL while he can. Hall is also stepping into a bigger leadership role and looks to take over the vocal leader role that London Fletcher possessed the past few seasons.

Justin Byram is a contributor to District Sports Page. He covers the Washington Redskins for several on-line publications. You can follow him on Twitter @Justin_Byram.

Washington Redskins training camp notebook

by Justin Byram

The Redskins kicked off training camp on a rainy Thursday morning at Bon Secours Training Camp. Here’s what you missed at the first day of training camp.

Robert Griffin III had a shaky start to camp, his throws were often inaccurate and off target. That could be due to the sloppy conditions he was throwing the ball in, rust, or maybe he just needs more time to get on the same page with his new targets. Regardless, it is not time to panic if you’re the Redskins, but Griffin must improve on his rocky start sooner than later in camp.

Running back will be an interesting position battle to watch throughout camp, Chris Thompson looked very quick, and appeared to be fully healthy. Seastrunk proved to be as advertised showing extreme burst and playmaking ability. Seastrunk also did a nice job catching the ball out of the backfield, I saw him make two difficult grabs (one low and one behind him). Catching the ball out of the backfield is a huge part of Jay Gruden’s offense and the quicker Seastrunk can pick it up the better it will be for him. Both Seastrunk and Thomas worked on returning punts as well.

Keenan Robinson has received a lot of hype this off-season, and rightfully so. The third year linebacker looked extremely athletic and showed great range covering the very talented Jordan Reed (typically a linebacker matchup nightmare) and did a phenomenal job. Robinson looks like he will be a huge asset to the Redskins defense provided he stays healthy.

Another recovering Redskin that looks healthier than I expected him to be was Richard Crawford Jr., who was playing his best football before getting injured last season, and could be an asset in the return game in 2014. Phillip Thomas also looked good, and doesn’t seem to have lost his explosiveness after missing his rookie season with a lisfranc injury.

In addition to returning punts, Andre Roberts made his presence felt immediately, making some nice plays in eleven-on-eleven drills. Roberts might be an underrated addition thanks to DeSean Jackson, but Roberts will be a bigger playmaker than people expect in 2014. Although their timing was off (it will get better with time) DeSean Jackson appears to be the deep threat RGIII has lacked his first two years. Twice today Jackson blew by the defense and Griffin went to him with no hesitation, one ball was a bit overthrown, and the other Jackson probably could have caught but it’s a safe bet you can expect a lot of deep shots from RGIII to Jackson in 2014.

Trent Murphy was put on the field with Orakpo and Kerrigan and formed a very good looking pass rushing trio. Murphy is enormous in person, bigger than I thought he would be and he looked great in his first practice with Washington. Murphy was reportedly one of the first Redskins to show up for camp around 6:30 a.m. (two hours before practice). With Murphy’s hard working attitude and talent, expect him to make an impact early.

Justin Byram is a contributor to District Sports Page. He covers the Washington Redskins for several on-line publications. You can follow him on Twitter @Justin_Byram.

Jay Gruden to put his stamp on Washington Redskins training camp

“Nothing is worse as a coach than when you let somebody go and they go on and kick your ass later on.” –Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden

The Washington Redskins reported to training camp Wednesday, and new head coach Jay Gruden faced the media for the first time at camp. He addressed the lingering injury situations of Jason Hatcher, Leonard Hankerson and Stephen Bowen and of course, talked about his quarterback, Robert Griffin III.

But he spent much of his first media availability talking about himself, his training camp, and how he expects things to go with him at the helm for the first time.

“Every coach wants to have great energy and great tempo, and that’s the big thing,” Gruden said from the training facility in Richmond, VA. “We want to get in and out of the huddle. We want to have great tempo and try to simulate game fashion as best we can. It’s going to be hot. Practices, sometimes they roll into period after period after period.”

“They can be mundane, but it’s important for us as coaches to motivate and keep the tempo moving at a quick pace and make sure we’re learning and coaching and the players are getting needed work – running to the football, pursuit, discipline. All that coachspeak that you hear, it’s what training camp is all about. Fundamentals of football need to be taught every play, every day. The tempo needs to be taught and worked on. The pursuit angles, the pursuit drills need to be practiced and worked on, and we strive for perfection.”

Gruden made sure to point out that he would lean heavily on his assistants.

“I try to use input from everybody. Coach [Jim] Haslett, obviously Coach [Ben] Kotwica, Sean McVay, [Director of Football Operations] Paul Kelly, we’ve all been at different systems and different programs and we’ve seen how different teams do them. Some have been successful, but we try to do what’s best for our team and for this place.”

“We thought practicing in the morning was the best option for us. Just walking out there today, it was hot, so I’m kind of glad we’re going in the morning. I was sweating. This jacket was a bad choice. I used everybody’s input on that as I do in coming up with game plans, and every decision I make will have input. Obviously I’ll have the final say, but I really expect that from the coaches.”

Gruden was asked how his training camp might be different than his predecessors’.

“I don’t know,” Gruden admitted. “I haven’t been to every coach’s training camp, so we’ll see. The big thing is we have a schedule drawn out. Now, how much we stick to that schedule will be determined on how we do. We might have to take a period out or add a period, a live tackling period or something along the way and change it up. I don’t think there’s any special drill in football I’m going to do that nobody’s ever done before. I hope not. It’ll be football.”

Gruden said that choosing the right mix of players for the opening roster is the first priority of the camp.

“I want to make sure we make the right decisions on players, No. 1. We have to make sure we get a good look at all the young guys, all the free agents, all the undrafted free agents, the draft picks, the veteran free agents, and make sure when we make our final cut-down we make the right choices and hopefully these players will make it very difficult on us in making those decisions.”

“When you play four preseason games and you scrimmage against the New England Patriots, hopefully we’ll get enough reps where we do make the right decision because nothing is worse as a coach than when you let somebody go and they go on and kick your ass later on. We want to make sure we get these guys the reps necessary and keep who we think are the best 53 and make the right decisions.”

Addressing the holdovers from last season’s debacle, Gruden said he hopes the players come in with a chip on their shoulders.

“Any time you lose the last one – whether you go 2-14 or we were 11-5 in Cincy and lost the last one – you should have a chip on your shoulder. You should want to get back on the saddle and compete. I think we have the type of guys here that all want to compete, whether they are coming from another team – we don’t have anybody coming from Seattle so everybody in this locker room should have a chip on their shoulder and should be eager to get back on the field and excited to play.”

“Football is a great game, it’s a privilege to play this game and I know they all love it and they want to do well. They are excited. We have worked extremely hard with the strength and conditioning coaches in the offseason program and you see them out there today running. They are all in good shape. Moving forward I feel good about where we are. Now it’s just a matter of getting them out there and playing.”

Washington Redskins Position Battles: Running Back

This summer, District Sports Page will be taking a close look at some key position battles leading up to Washington Redskins training camp. In this first installment, we look at the battle for playing time at the running back slot.

by Justin Byram, special to District Sports Page

There is only one thing certain about the Redskins Running Back position: Alfred Morris is the starter. After that, there isn’t much clarity at the position. The battle for playing time at the running back spot should be one of the most interesting position battles of the summer. Although Alfred Morris is the clear starter, the third down and receiving back jobs are wide open (something that is pivotal in Jay Gruden’s offense). Whoever wins these jobs will have a big role in the offense and an increased role from years past.

The Running Backs currently on the Redskins roster include Alfred Morris, Roy Helu, Lache Seastrunk, Evan Royster, Silas Redd, and Chris Thompson. Obviously one of the three roster spots is occupied by Morris, but who will prove worthy of the other two spots?

Roy Helu is the next safest bet. Although Helu is set to count more against the salary cap than starter Alfred Morris, two other running backs would have to shine during pre-season in order to knock Helu off the roster. Helu does provide good pass catching skills (31 catches for 251 yards in ’13) and offers a change of pace to the plodding Morris (62 carries, 274 yards, four TDs), but Helu’s actual results have been average at best throughout his time in Washington. But we’ll assume he retains his spot as the No. 2 back.

With two of the three spots likely filled, it will be a battle between the remaining four for the final position, and the ability to play on special teams may very well provide the difference.

Evan Royster has showed some versatility (the ability to play fullback) however, little else. He carried just twice in 2013 for zero net yards. Silas Redd was a solid back collegiately at Penn State and he is now supposedly 100% for the first time in a while. If fully healthy again, Redd is a dark horse candidate to make the roster and a player to keep your eye on in training camp and pre-season.

The battle for the final roster spot will likely be a battle between Chris Thompson and 2014 draftee Lache Seastrunk. This early in the process you have to like Seastrunk. Unlike Thompson, Seastrunk was drafted by Gruden, which means he is already on the head coach’s radar. Thompson has showed no durability, failing to stay healthy throughout his career, and his production on the field has lacked. At the end of the day, Seastrunk is a more durable version of Thompson, and will likely bump him off the roster.

The team went out of its way to describe Seastrunk as a dynamic kick returner during the draft process, and it’s definitely an are of need for the Skins. Thompson averaged 20.0 yards per kickoff return last season on eight attempts, but his longest was just 28 yards. He also returned seven punts for 36 yards, a measly 5.1 yards per attempt average.

My final prediction is Morris as the starter, Helu as the backup and third down back, and Seastrunk as  a change of pace back and return man, unless he displays enough aptitude during training camp to take on a larger role.

However, with Helu’s cap hit, it could be interesting if Redd shows something during camp and in preseason now that he’s fully heathy.

Running back will be one of the most intense competitions in training camp and throughout pre-season. It will be a fun roster battle to watch, and with a lot of competition a good player will likely be cut or make the practice squad rather than the 53-man roster.

Caps Training Camp: Laich leaves practice with lower body injury

It took Brooks Laich 10 minutes of formal practice time to register his first injury of the season. Laich, returning from a devestating groin injury that kept him out of the Caps lineup for all but nine days last season, tweaked a hip flexor skating Thursday morning in the first team workout of training camp.

Laich told the media that he originally injured the hip flexor last week skating on the Kettler ice for the first time since returning to D.C.

“It was actually my first day back in D.C.,” Laich said from Kettler Thursday after practice. “Something I noticed is that the ice here is a lot softer than the ice I skated on back home and when I skated here I just tweaked it a bit.”

Laich indicated he didn’ think the injury was major and that it was not related in any way to the groin injury he suffered last season.

There is no timetable for Laich to return to the ice, and he is considered day-to-day for now. 

Washington Redskins Training Camp: Mike Shanahan on RGIII

With Washington Redskins training camp getting underway at their new digs in Richmond, head coach Mike Shanahan met with the media today to discuss a myriad of topics, not the least of which was the status of his second-year quarterback, Robert Griffin III.

On the plan for quarterback Robert Griffin III during camp:

“Initially, what we’re going to do is what we did today. We had thirty minutes of individual work and we had different types of individual work, as you could see today, different things Robert was doing. During the special teams period, what he was able to do was get his footwork, for us to put him through all the situations that we had in team without being involved in any type of team drills. And then we had a seven-on-seven, which he took eight of the 10 plays, and did a very good job coming into that situation for the first time in a while. But that’s our plan initially, make him feel comfortable with what we’re doing, feeling comfortable with going back to doing some football drills, some football moves, and see how he does.”

On plan for Griffin III during the preseason:

“What we plan on doing is progressing everyday like we did today. We’ll get a chance to see when he’s ready for a possible team drill, more reps, all those type of things that come with time. But we’re going to take it slow. Relative to preseason, my plan is not playing him any preseason games. The first two weeks, with a Thursday night and a Monday night game, then a relative short week the following week, with a Monday night and a Saturday game and then a Thursday game, it just doesn’t make any sense to play him in any preseason games. So we’re going to try to get him in football shape. What I’d like to be able to do when he’s ready is be able to play or be able to practice at game-type tempo. When that’ll occur, I can’t tell you. When I think he’s ready for it, it’s going to take some time. It surely won’t happen for two to three weeks. It does take some time to get back in football shape.”

On if there was a plan for Griffin III to test his knee without a brace practice:

“No, there’s no plan, and you just got him fined for not having a knee brace on, so I’m hoping you’re very happy with yourself [Laughter]. That was somewhat of a joke. No, he’s supposed to do everything with a knee brace on. I’m not sure why he didn’t have his knee brace on.”

On if he was surprised by Griffin III’s timetable for returning:

“Well, the first thing that you have to realize, you’ve got to get in football shape. Even though he’s cleared, I’ve got to see it on the football field and I’ve got to see it with drill work. It just doesn’t happen like that. If you’re dealing with trainers, you’re dealing with doctors. They’ve got him in shape. They can tell you when that knee is ready to go, but they can’t tell you when he’s ready to play. Because you’ve got to see that happen over time, and you’ve got to get him in shape. In my opinion, you can’t take a chance of going back too quick. And so, as he does get in shape, as he does improve, you can see his body movements improve, the confidence in that knee, then you give him a little bit more rope. And you don’t want to go back too quick. You want to make sure that you keep him healthy and that’s what we’re going to do.”

On quarterback behind Griffin III:

“Well, when Robert is just taking the seven-on-seven reps, our other three quarterbacks have a great chance of getting repetition. We’re working with three quarterbacks, besides Robert, in the individual drills, and what we’re doing… The first team had four reps, the second team had three and the third team had two. So all the quarterbacks got some experience out there, and we’ll continue to do that for a while to get all three ready to play in the preseason games.”

On challenge of not playing a starting quarterback in the preseason:

“I think so many times that the repetition in preseason is so over-exaggerated. I coached college for 10 years. We never had a preseason game. You go in the game ready to play. And a lot of times when you practice and you practice at game speed, you can go into a game without exhibition games. One of the reason you have exhibition games is to evaluate your talent. When a player does have some experience and you’re able to put that person through a good practice or practices or you get them ready to play, I think they’re more than ready to play. Part of it’s the evaluation, part of it’s to get the little rust off the old tires, you’d like to play them some but you have to judge if it’s worth it. In my opinion, if you’re going to put them in you have to put them in earlier than later. You don’t play your whole team in the fourth preseason game and you’re not going to put your starting quarterback in there. And from a Monday night game from a Saturday game it doesn’t make sense to me, so that’s my thought as to why we won’t play him in the preseason.”

***Quotes provided by Redskins Media staff

Washington Redskins Minicamp: Shanahan briefs media after first minicamp session

Mike Shanahan spoke to reporters Tuesday on a broad range of topics after the team’s first session of mandatory minicamp. He gave updates on a number of rehabbing players, spoke about the development of the team’s young defensive secondary, and explained the decision to bring in veteran receiver Donte Stallworth on a tryout basis.

Here are some of the highlights, transcript style:

On Robert Griffin III’s rehab: 

“We’ve got our plan right now….hopefully, Robert’s good when he’s full speed, ready to go. When that date is, I don’t think anybody knows, but the doctors are going to look at him and tell us when his ready to practice. When he is, we’ll see what he can do.”

On Stallworth: 

“I didn’t want to lose Donté a year ago. I did call him up and I told him I thought he made a mistake – giving him a hard time. Before he had signed, he was contemplating what to do and he had decided to go to New England. I really thought that he made a mistake. I thought he would have been better being with us just because I liked what he did, what he brought to the table…..I was happy to see him out there today. I thought he made a couple plays today that he looked very good. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to sign him in the next couple days.”

On how outside linebacker Brian Orakpo has looked in practice thus far: 

“’Rak, just the way he practices is like he’s possessed. That’s what you like to see. You can tell he misses the game, being out as long as he was last season. You can tell that he is looking forward to having a great year. He’s done everything you ask a guy to do in the weight room, rehab. He’s really looking forward to that opportunity.”

On the health status of second-year cornerback Chase Minnifield, who tore his ACL last offseason: 

“The doctors say when they think he’s ready, and they feel like he’s ready to go. He’s worked extremely hard to get himself in great shape. And him coming back just in the first couple of days, it’s been very impressive. It doesn’t look like there’s any setback where he’s favoring anything whatsoever. That’s why I’m excited. He’s got five more weeks to keep on getting better and do what he needs to do to make our football team.”

On strong safety Brandon Meriweather’s status to start training camp: 

“According to the doctors, he’s ready to go in July. They don’t think there’s any question about it. He’s full speed, ready to go. Hopefully there is no setback, but right now the doctors have told me that they believe he’ll be ready to go once we go to Richmond.”

Shanahan is scheduled to the media again for the remainder of minicamp. Assistant coaches will be available Wednesday, including offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett.

The Washington Redskins Announce 2013 Training Camp Dates

The Washington Redskins announced Monday the dates for the team’s 2013 training camp, which will be held at the their brand new practice facility, the  Bon Secours Training Center located in Richmond, Virginia. Camp is scheduled to begin Thursday, July 25th and will run through Friday Aug. 16th.

This summer will mark the first time the Redskins have held training camp away from their Ashburn headquarters since 2003. Their new $10 million dollar facility will feature two full-sized natural grass fields,  an additional drill field, among other amenities.

There will be 17 scheduled days that practices will be open to the public, with the team’s Fan Appreciation Day being held on Saturday, Aug. 3rd at noon.  Admission is free for all fans.

Here’s the full list of practice days that are open to the public (dates and times are subject to change):

Thursday, July 25

Friday, July 26

Saturday July 27

Monday, July 29

Tuesday, July 30

Wednesday, July 31

Thursday, Aug. 1

Friday, Aug. 2

Saturday, Aug. 3       (Fan Appreciation Day – Noon)

Monday, Aug. 5

Tuesday, Aug. 6

Saturday, Aug. 10

Monday, Aug. 12

Tuesday, Aug. 13

Wednesday, Aug. 14

Thursday, Aug. 15

Friday, Aug. 16

Washington Redskins: “Just Robert” already showing veteran poise to the media

(photo courtesy Brian Murphy)

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new quarterback in town. The first day of training camp is over, his quotes from earlier this week have been disseminated. Early analysis from the media on Thursday’s camp indicates his performance was respectable, though not flawless. His interviews from Wednesday, however, were in veteran form, particularly where he declared himself as “just Robert” to his teammates.

Robert, as is Robert Griffin III, better known across the league as “RGIII” and the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft, also showed a refreshing empathy with the common man’s plight when a question came up about housing prices in D.C. [Read more…]

Quick Hits from Day One of Caps Training Camp

Yes, there were some players looking for oxygen on day one. (photo by Cheryl Nichols)

We’ll have plenty of quotes in a longer post later on, but here are some quick observations from Day 1 of the Washington Capitals  2011 Training Camp.  Everyone (including us) has been talking about the shaving cream pie in the face Alex Ovechkin received from some of his running mates for his birthday, but there was actually hockey content as well. [Read more…]

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