September 16, 2019

Washington Redskins Week Two of OTAs Observations

Week two of organized team activities began for the Washington Redskins this week which allowed for a slightly clearer image of how next season is shaping up through press conferences with head coach Jay Gruden and defensive coordinator Joe Barry. Unlike last week when Robert Griffin III was the main topic of discussion, more light was shed on the updating of injury concerns and the early evaluation of the younger talent.

The biggest takeaway from Barry’s first press conference as a member of the organization has to be how optimistic and complimentary he was about all of the tools he has around him to succeed. In his short time on the field in Ashburn, Barry has been enthusiastic and willed his players to be more aggressive, which was eluded to last week with a focus on forcing more turnovers.

Barry had high praise for each of his position coaches under his wing, including new secondary coach and ex-Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. Barry spoke about how he was lured to Washington by the rich legacy and tradition of the Redskins even though they are in a down cycle. Moreover, Barry applauded the Scot McCloughan’s mindset of bringing in not only good football players but good character and coachable individuals.

From a scheme standpoint, Barry stood firm that the Redskins will continue out of a 3-4 base defense but will, as much of the league has done, use a hybrid front that is possible because of the versatile defensive linemen they have brought in. Barry stated that no cornerbacks would transition into a safety role, which was once thought to have been an opportunity for David Amerson and/or DeAngelo Hall. Amerson, in fact, was the nickel corner during drills Wednesday behind Baushad Breeland and Chris Culliver on the depth chart. Barry also mentioned that although players will have to learn the new system as they go along, they’re picking it up well and he went so far to say he loves where the unit is at in general.

Following his defensive coordinator, it would only make sense for the offensive-minded Gruden to address the other side of the ball as he did with the majority of his responses. With the release of Chris Chester last week, Gruden discussed how they felt comfortable with the depth they had at guard, including Spencer Long, Arie Kouandjio, and Josh LeRibeus, the latter of which got the snaps with the first team offense as well as at the backup center position. With the addition of Bill Callahan to the coaching staff, Gruden send that he is the best at developing those young talents.

Unlike most of the critics of DeSean Jackson missing the first week of OTAs, Jay Gruden was alright with Jackson’s decision to not attend part of the voluntary activities. Gruden explained that although they would have loved to have had him earlier, “he had his reasons” and “didn’t miss a beat”. On a separate topic concerning Jackson, Gruden admitted that the speedster and the rest of the receivers would probably have liked more consistency at the quarterback position last season.

Gruden again indicated that Griffin is making the correct steps in his development since the end of last season. Although Gruden said that there are occasional mistakes, such as the interception Griffin threw to Breeland in the end zone today, the right progressions are being made.

The head coach addressed his depth at the tight end position with Niles Paul and Logan Paulsen because of the constant injury to Jordan Reed. Although Paulsen is clearly the best blocking tight end in terms of running the football, Gruden noted that Paul has gotten stronger in an attempt to improve that aspect of his game which drew praise from his boss because he is originally a converted wide receiver.

Additional Player Evaluations

  • Matt Jones: Gruden is excited about what he can do in space, but is unable to get a full scouting reports without contact since the prospect thrives on being a “downhill power runner”.
  • Preston Smith: “…learning what he’s supposed to do, being where he’s supposed to be”. His mobility, active hands, and bending hips are some of his plus abilities that can be seen even in a non-contact environment.
  • Trent Murphy: Although not frequently discussed, Gruden made the bold statement that the second-year rusher out of Stanford is a player that jumps out on the screen. Gruden elaborated that he has come back bigger, stronger, and more aggressive, leading the coaching staff to expect him to have the biggest jump from year one to two on the team.

Official Injury Updates:

  • DeAngelo Hall: The veteran corner will not return to the field until his twice-torn Achilles heel tendon is 100 percent healed. It is expected that Hall will get things rolling at training camp with individual and then team drills, but the current focus is continued rehab.
  • Trent Williams: The Redskins best offensive linemen suffered a left ankle injury late last year that kept him out of playing in the Pro Bowl for the second year in a row. After participating last week, Williams felt a little sore so he will be given some time off to rehab it so it does not become a nagging problems when the games count. Like Hall, Williams is expected to be ready to go for training camp.
  • Jordan Reed: After having knee soreness last week that forced him to have his knee checked out by doctors, the big-time receiving threat, when healthy, had a “procedure”, not a scope as Ryan Kerrigan had, on his knee. The same goes for Reed as he is expected to be fully participating during training camp

Important Dates:

  • Three phases of OTAs scheduled for May 26-28, June 2-4, and June 8-11.
  • Minicamp begins on Tuesday, June 16 in 13 days.
  • Training camps starts on Thursday, July 30 in 57 days.
  • Travel to Cleveland for first preseason matchup against the Browns on Thursday, August 13 in 71 days.
  • Season and home opener against Miami Dolphins on Sunday, September 13 in 102 days.
About Neil Dalal

Neil Dalal is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins, Wizards, and Maryland Terrapins. Neil grew up in Silver Spring, MD and attends the University of Maryland. Neil has loved everything related to the Redskins, Wizards, Capitals, and Terrapins since he was eight years old. However, he favors the Orioles, as he started watching baseball before the Expos moved to DC. You can follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.

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