wpostServer: http://css.washingtonpost.com/wpost2

Most Read: Sports

http://www.washingtonpost.com/2010/07/06/ABMK8PP_linkset.html
Posted at 04:40 PM ET, 08/01/2014

Defensive players receive live reminders about illegal contact emphasis


David Amerson plays the ball against Leonard Hankerson during a practice on Day 3 of training camp.

RICHMOND — For a second straight day, the Redskins went through practice with a crew of officials, and as they did, defensive players received another reminder of the league’s heightened emphasis on the enforcement of illegal contact on receivers within five yards of the line of scrimmage.

The officiating crew held their annual meeting with the players Thursday night to show them the league’s film on rule changes and emphasis focuses for the 2014 season, and then to hammer home the message, the officials worked the practice a second straight day.

The penalty that drew the most enforcement Friday was illegal contact, which proved frustrating to the defensive players, who believe that the rules already put them at a disadvantage.

“Any time you’re in press coverage, it’s a fight for the receivers and the [defensive backs],” cornerback David Amerson chuckled, shaking his head. “Of course, it’s seems that they always lean to the offense. There’s a lot of pushing and slapping at the top of their routes and stuff. But my biggest thing is just call it both ways.”

Seven flags were thrown for illegal contact Friday. Most drew reactions of disbelief from the defensive backs.

“Like [defensive backs] coach [Raheem Morris] said, the refs are grey matter,” cornerback E.J. Biggers grinned. “If a call gets made while we’re competing, sometimes it happens like that. There will never be a perfect game. Like Coach Jay [Gruden] said, you’ve got to live with the call, you’ve got to move on. You’ve just got to hold teams out of the end zone.”

Gruden agreed that some of the calls seemed a bit excessive, but said that players will have to alter their approach.

“You have to. If they’re going to call it like that, it’s going to be an issue across the league — not just here,” Gruden said. “These defensive backs and linebackers have been taught a certain way for a long time. They’re just going to have to let go of the guys after five yards, and make an emphasis of it, otherwise it’s going to be a flagfest. … A couple of the calls were questionable in my opinion, but, that’s the way it’s going to be and what we’re going to have to adjust to.”

Biggers said players can’t let the fear of calls cause them to become tentative.

“If you modify the way you play too much, you could get hurt out there,” he said. “Of course there are rules and regulation that you have to abide by, but you’ve got to play your game. You can’t worry about what the call is. Just treat it as grey matter.”

Biggers also said that he hopes that the players will have a little more flexibility in games, hoping that the referees were over-emphasizing the infraction this week to help players become mindful of the more rigid regulations.

“They’re going to try to remind us and call as many as they see,” Biggers said. “In a game, it might be different, but for now, they’re trying to show us what’s the right way to play the game.”

What’s ahead:

Washington has a walk-through Friday afternoon at 4:10 p.m. Here’s our camp guide, if you’re planning to attend.

Also from The Post:

Mike Jones’s observations from Day 8 | Images from Richmond

Reid: Is Chris Thompson the answer?

Williams sits; Garcon and Thomas return

Decision on kickers will go down to ‘the very last minute’

Mike Wise: Training camp’s preferred flavor? Vanilla.

Backup guards will have to play both sides

Griffin: Pass-catching back will help the offense

Clark and Moss perfect the art of playing into their mid-30s

More NFL coverage: Home page | D.C. Sports Bog | The Early Lead | Fancy Stats

Follow: @MikeJonesWaPo | @lizclarketweet | @JReidPost | @Insider

By  |  04:40 PM ET, 08/01/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  Defense, penalties

Posted at 02:33 PM ET, 08/01/2014

Redskins training camp: Observations from Day 9


Jay Gruden made Friday’s practice pad-free. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

RICHMOND — Jay Gruden called another audible Friday, opting for a pad-free practice as he looks to ensure that his players have adequate time to heal from various bumps, bruises and soreness in advance of next week’s joint practices with the New England Patriots.

“I think that for the most part everybody this time at camp in the NFL probably has a little soreness right now,” Gruden said the evening before. “Now, it is how you manage it, how you get the most out of them and how you are going to tailor practice. … My goal is to get them to Monday, ready and healthy so they can compete against New England at their finest form.”

Practice still had a pretty good tempo, particularly the team portions, during which the offense focused on the no-huddle and hurry-up attacks. After some bright spots and some drive-killing miscues, the players came away encouraged for the most part.

“I think it takes time for everything: three-step, five-step, seven-step, and no huddles thrown in there. That stuff is about timing,” quarterback Robert Griffin III said. “Guys have to get used to running a play, coming back and running another play in 10 to 15 seconds as opposed to letting the clock run down. It’s a process. Today was the first day, so I felt like we did a good job of everybody recognizing the code words we’re using and getting out and running the plays. I thought that was extremely good for a start.”

Griffin said the players like running the hurry-up offense, and he definitely does. He enjoys the challenge of being the field general, running the offense and calling the shots on the fly.

“I think every quarterback likes to go out there and have more command of the field, run it quickly. But, whatever coach wants to call, that’s what I’ll run,” Griffin said. “It challenges a defense to make their checks a lot faster as opposed to coming out of the huddle, come up to the line and playing the check game with the ‘mike’ linebacker. You kind of get a play, run it quick and exploit what the defense is trying to do. And it makes them have to adapt quick and play fast. It really tests your endurance. That’s the main thing.”

  • Today was another rainy day for the Redskins, but they must be getting used to this, because it didn’t seem to severely hamper the quarterbacks and receivers, although there was one bad snap because of the slippery conditions.
  • The Redskins had referees in practice for a second consecutive day, and in keeping with the league’s new emphasis on enforcing illegal contact on receivers after five yards, the officials were rather strict.
  • Rookie outside linebacker Trent Murphy is doing well in the pass-rushing department but has some work to do in pass coverage. He was called for illegal contact four times while matched with tight ends.
  • E.J. Biggers and David Amerson lamented the fact that it’s already hard enough to play defense in today’s NFL, and that pass-catchers do plenty of pushing off as they come out of breaks and go after passes. But, they also said, they can’t let the fear of drawing a flag cause them to become tentative.
  • Coaches say inside linebacker Perry Riley has made a jump forward in his development, and Riley credits the work of assistant Kirk Olivadotti. Riley says the coach, hired this year as Jim Haslett revamped his staff, has so much knowledge and a great way of teaching. He feels like he will be a more complete linebacker this year. The one-on-one pass coverage drills for the inside linebackers exhibited this. Riley had done poorly on his first two attempts and was guilty of illegal contact as he got turned around and grabbed fullbacks Stephen Campbell and Darrel Young to keep from losing them. Olivadotti pulled Riley off to the side and walked him through aspects of his technique that needed fixing. Riley came out the next time and intercepted a Colt McCoy pass intended for Young.
  • Defensive coaches are very encouraged by how Riley and fellow inside linebacker Keenan Robinson have looked. Those two seem to be locked in as the starting ‘jack’ and ‘mike’ ‘backers, respectively.
  • It’ll be interesting to see how things shake out behind those two, however. Will Compton remains on the second unit, but Darryl Sharpton, Adam Hayward and Akeem Jordan continue to rotate at the other inside linebacker spot. Sharpton, a fifth-year pro, has good athleticism and speed, and a bit of a nasty streak as well. Coaches like that. Hayward  doesn’t seem to make game-changing plays, but he knows where to be and is steady and reliable. Special teams is his forte. Jordan can make all the calls, but he lacks the speed and athleticism of the other two. He routinely came out on passing downs when he played for the Chiefs and Eagles. I’m curious to see how the numbers shake out at this position. Coaches could very well go with only four inside linebackers as they form this roster, but five remains a possibility.
  • Wide receiver Aldrick Robinson seemed to have one of his better days. He caught a deep touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins after getting past Richard Crawford. Cousins and Robinson can thank Niles Paul for that play. Paul pancaked Murphy as the rookie tried to go low and get around the tight end and attack the quarterback on his blindside. But Paul’s big block bought Cousins the second he needed to locate Robinson and make the throw.
  • Robinson also had a touchdown pass from Griffin during seven-on-seven action. It was a 60-yard touchdown pass, again against Crawford.
  • Crawford continues to struggle as he tries to make this 53-man roster after missing all of last year with torn ligaments in his knee. As mentioned yesterday, he frequently seems a step late, and his assignments in turn make key catches. Another battling cornerback who has yet to consistently stand out is Terry Porter, whom Washington signed this offseason with plans of using him as the nickelback. But thus far, Biggers still looks like the better of the two, and despite his youth and inexperience, rookie Bashaud Breeland looks a little better than Porter. If you had to go with four cornerbacks right now, I’d have to say Hall, Amerson, Biggers and Breeland. But, there’s still time for things to change. Porter did miss all of the offseason with shoulder surgery rehab, so we’ll see how he looks in a couple weeks and if he’s able to make up some ground.
  • With Trent Williams resting his bruised shin, Tom Compton got the start at left tackle. That was pretty telling because until today, Compton had worked exclusively at right tackle (behind Tyler Polumbus, and then in place of Polumbus when the veteran was away). Compton does have experience as a swing tackle, because that’s what he spent all of last year doing, flip-flopping in practice. But rookie Morgan Moses has worked as the second-team left tackle throughout training camp. However, he has struggled, and with Williams sidelined, coaches felt that Compton was more ready to step into a first-team role. The Redskins did give Compton more tight end help than they did Williams. Compton wasn’t perfect as two shaky plays stood out. But as a whole, he had a fair showing.
  • The first play when Compton appeared to be in some trouble: Brian Orakpo got around him only to have Compton slide back and around to his left more, trying to keep the linebacker from getting to the quarterback. The rest of the pocket was beginning to collapse, and Griffin sensed Orakpo coming up from behind, and so he stepped up, but Kory Lichtensteiger and Shawn Lauvao both were getting shoved into his path. The quarterback spun off the line and took off to daylight off Lauvao’s shoulder and picked up 20 yards, much to the delight of the fans.
  • Griffin had another impressive play, but this one wouldn’t have counted. Griffin rolled to his right with Murphy and Riley breathing down his neck. Both Compton and Chris Chester appeared to be guilty of holds as Griffin continued to scramble and then hit DeSean Jackson for 60-yard touchdown pass. The fans, and some players, celebrated until they saw that the officials hadn’t missed the hold, and a couple yellow flags marked the spot.
  • Griffin later had a nice play where he scrambled to avoid pressure and located Alfred Morris for a completion.
  • The quarterback went to Young on a bootleg pass early in the 11-on-11 portion of practice. But a couple plays later, he had Young open underneath and with pressure coming. Griffin opted not to dump the ball off to Young on that roll-out throw and forced it a little further upfield to Roberts, who was headed out of bounds and heavily covered. Cornerback Peyton Thompson reached in and swatted the ball away.
  • Second-year back Chris Thompson got a fair amount of action as the third-down back during the hurry-up offense portions of practice.
  • Griffin later had a pretty pass, floating the ball into Roberts over the top, dropping it in perfectly so the receiver could catch it in stride. Roberts bounced off DeAngelo Hall, who had provided some coverage over the top, turned and darted toward the end zone.
  • Second-year safety Bacarri Rambo has been short on highlights, but he made a play today, intercepting a Kirk Cousins pass downfield as the quarterback attempted a deep throw to Robinson.
  • The punting battle continues, but today, first-year pro Blake Clingan appeared to do a little better than third-year veteran Robert Malone. Both are good-sized, strong-legged punters (Malone is 6-feet-2, 243 pounds; Clingan is 6-3, 223). But Clingan had the better hang time today with unofficial times of 5.06 seconds, 4.89 seconds and 4.62 seconds. Malone, meanwhile, had hang times of 4.31 seconds, 4.64 seconds and 3.88 seconds, by my stopwatch.

What’s ahead:

Washington has a walk-through Friday afternoon at 4:10 p.m. Here’s our camp guide, if you’re planning to attend.

Also from The Post:

Mike Jones’s observations from Day 8 | Images from Richmond

Reid: Is Chris Thompson the answer?

Williams sits; Garcon and Thomas return

Decision on kickers will go down to ‘the very last minute’

Mike Wise: Training camp’s preferred flavor? Vanilla.

Backup guards will have to play both sides

Griffin: Pass-catching back will help the offense

Clark and Moss perfect the art of playing into their mid-30s

More NFL coverage: Home page | D.C. Sports Bog | The Early Lead | Fancy Stats

Follow: @MikeJonesWaPo | @lizclarketweet | @JReidPost | @Insider

By  |  02:33 PM ET, 08/01/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 01:19 PM ET, 08/01/2014

Redskins WR Aldrick Robinson eager to prove he’s more than a deep-ball threat


Aldrick Robinson squeezes between Lee Doss, left, and Akeem Jordan during offseason practices in June. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

RICHMOND — Countless wide receivers would love to claim to be a deep-ball threat for an NFL team. Friday at Redskins training camp, Aldrick Robinson grabbed two huge receptions — one deep throw from Robert Griffin III, another from Kirk Cousins — to embellish that reputation.

But Robinson says he’d love to shed the tag in his third season in Washington, eager to establish himself as an all-around receiver.

“I get that all the time because of how fast I am,” said Robinson, 25, whose 20.3 yards per catch led the team last season. “I’ve had a lot of big plays in my career. I have one-catch games, 68 yards, one touchdown. It’s not a bad stat, but it’s all you see. You don’t see hitches and slants. You see it in preseason, but during the season you don’t really see it. I just continue to work. When I get my chance to be an all-around receiver, I’ll be there.”

A former track star in his native Texas, Robinson says he could have contended for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team had he devoted himself exclusively to the 100 and 200 meters.

“I probably couldn’t beat Usain Bolt,” he concedes, “but I would have tried.”

Instead, he focused on football at Southern Methodist and was drafted by the Redskins in the sixth round of the 2011 draft.

Entering the 2014 season, no Redskins unit has been re-made more dramatically than the receivers. The signing of DeSean Jackson trumped Robinson’s claim as being the squad’s faster receiver. Recently acquired Andre Roberts gives the team yet another speedster.

Robinson, who switched to a No. 15 so Jackson could wear No. 11, says that watching Jackson up close is only making him better.

“He continues to prove himself every single year,” Robinson said. “I want to do that when I get a chance.”

During a visit to camp earlier this week, former Redskins receiver Gary Clark told ESPN’s John Keim that he felt this year’s receiving corps might be better than the bunch he played with, which included Art Monk and Ricky Sanders.

“Look at the competition,” Robinson said of the 12 receivers on the camp roster. “You’ve got guys out there making great plays. You’ve got rookies coming in looking like two- or three-year players. You’ve got Ryan Grant looking like he’s been here four years. The competition and depth is crazy. It’s going to be a tough decision at the end of the day.”

What’s ahead:

Washington has a walk-through Friday afternoon at 4:10 p.m. Here’s our camp guide, if you’re planning to attend.

Also from The Post:

Mike Jones’s observations from Day 8 | Images from Richmond

Reid: Is Chris Thompson the answer?

Williams sits; Garcon and Thomas return

Decision on kickers will go down to ‘the very last minute’

Mike Wise: Training camp’s preferred flavor? Vanilla.

Backup guards will have to play both sides

Griffin: Pass-catching back will help the offense

Clark and Moss perfect the art of playing into their mid-30s

More NFL coverage: Home page | D.C. Sports Bog | The Early Lead | Fancy Stats

Follow: @MikeJonesWaPo | @lizclarketweet | @JReidPost | @Insider

By  |  01:19 PM ET, 08/01/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:51 PM ET, 08/01/2014

Deeper receiving corps should make it easier for Garcon to escape the ‘cloud’


Santana Moss and Pierre Garcon. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

RICHMOND — In “cloud coverage,” two safeties and a cornerback play deep, and the other cornerback stays closer to the line of scrimmage to cover receivers who run short routes. The zone defense is designed to “bracket” a team’s best wide receiver, making it harder to connect with the quarterback. Wideout Pierre Garcon could tell you all about it.

Last fall, Garcon often faced double teams. Opponents figured that if they could contain Garcon, the Redskins’ passing game would struggle. They were right.

Garcon led the NFL with 113 receptions. Among Redskins wideouts, Santana Moss was second with 42. The Redskins needed balance in the passing game. By acquiring free-agent wideouts DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts, the Redskins have built what appears to be their strongest receiving corps in a long time.

“He really did get a lot of cloud [coverage], where he had a corner [on him] and safety help over the top,” offensive coordinator Sean McVay said of Garcon, slowed in camp because of a mild hamstring injury.

“Some teams might decide to do that again. Some teams might decide to do that to DeSean. But we’re excited about having some guys we know we can move around, separate and beat man coverage. Based on the coverage, we’ll get the ball wherever we need to.”

With Jackson and Garcon outside and Roberts in the slot, quarterback Robert Griffin III looks much happier than he used to in practice. Coach Jay Gruden and McVay expect Garcon, and the entire offense, to thrive.

“We all know Pierre is a great player,” McVay said. “He’s gonna be a huge part of what we’re trying to get done offensively.

“It’s funny. In a lot of the defenses were seeing right now [in practice], he’s getting doubled, but he continues to do a great job. It’ll be interesting to see how teams defend us.”

What’s ahead:

Washington has a walk-through Friday afternoon at 4:10 p.m. Here’s our camp guide, if you’re planning to attend.

Also from The Post:

Mike Jones’s observations from Day 8 | Images from Richmond

Reid: Is Chris Thompson the answer?

Williams sits; Garcon and Thomas return

Decision on kickers will go down to ‘the very last minute’

Mike Wise: Training camp’s preferred flavor? Vanilla.

Backup guards will have to play both sides

Griffin: Pass-catching back will help the offense

Clark and Moss perfect the art of playing into their mid-30s

More NFL coverage: Home page | D.C. Sports Bog | The Early Lead | Fancy Stats

Follow: @MikeJonesWaPo | @lizclarketweet | @JReidPost | @Insider

By  |  12:51 PM ET, 08/01/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  Pierre Garcon, Robert Griffin III, Training camp, Washington Redskins, Wide Receivers

Posted at 12:42 PM ET, 08/01/2014

Williams held out of practice; Garcon, Thomas return to action


Pierre Garcon. (AP)

RICHMOND — Redskins left tackle Trent Williams did not take part in practice on Friday, a day after getting hobbled by a kick to the shin during a play.

Williams and coach Jay Gruden said that the injury, which occurred when Williams served as a lead blocker for wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who had just caught a screen pass, was not serious.

Williams didn’t miss a snap, but did have his shin iced down, and he walked with a slight limp as he left the field. Williams took part on Thursday evening’s walk-through, but third-year pro Tom Compton played left tackle in place of Williams Friday morning.

Gruden said Thursday that he wants to handle players suffering from bumps, bruises and soreness with care so they are healthy enough to compete at a high level next week when the New England Patriots visit for three days of joint practices.

Because of that goal, Gruden cut Thursday’s practice short by a few minutes, and on Friday, he altered his plans. The coach had originally said the team would practice in pads Friday. But instead, the players wore shells along with their helmets.

Meanwhile, wide receiver Pierre Garcon returned to full action after having his activities restricted the past two days. Garcon left Monday’s session with soreness in his hamstring, and Tuesday represented an off day for the team. Garcon took part in individual drills on Wednesday and Thursday, but didn’t take part in any one-on-one, seven-on-seven or 11-on-11 drills. Garcon didn’t look to be hampered in any way on Friday.

Safety Phillip Thomas (hamstring) also returned to practice in a limited capacity. He was held out Wednesday and Thursday, but ran each day. Thomas took part in individual drills Friday, but did not participate in team drills.

Starting right tackle Tyler Polumbus practiced Friday morning after re-joining the team Thursday evening. He had received a two-day excuse to tend to a personal matter, according to Gruden.

Rookie safety Akeem Davis missed his second day of practice after welcoming a new baby on Thursday. Meanwhile, wide receiver Jerry Rice Jr., who suffered a shoulder injury Thursday, also was not in attendance Friday.

What’s ahead:

Washington has a walk-through Friday afternoon at 4:10 p.m. Here’s our camp guide, if you’re planning to attend.

Also from The Post:

Mike Jones’s observations from Day 8 | Images from Richmond

Reid: Is Chris Thompson the answer?

Decision on kickers will go down to ‘the very last minute’

Mike Wise: Training camp’s preferred flavor? Vanilla.

Backup guards will have to play both sides

Griffin: Pass-catching back will help the offense

Clark and Moss perfect the art of playing into their mid-30s

More NFL coverage: Home page | D.C. Sports Bog | The Early Lead | Fancy Stats

Follow: @MikeJonesWaPo | @lizclarketweet | @JReidPost | @Insider

By  |  12:42 PM ET, 08/01/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  Injury report

 

© 2011 The Washington Post Company