The Washington Redskins on Monday went through their next-to-last practice of training camp and also began preparing for their second preseason game, which takes place in Chicago on Saturday.
Here are some observations from Monday’s practice:
-Trent Williams’s foot injury doesn’t appear to be one that will sideline him for a significant amount of time. The left tackle is listed as day-to-day, but he still was able to go through positional drills in practice. He said after practice that he hopes to practice Tuesday, but that the decision was the coaches’ and trainers’ to make.
-Other O-Line health updates: Chris Chester said that he is encouraged by his progress and that he and his coaches are just being extra cautious to ensure he is healthy by the start of the season. Chester started every game last season, so the Redskins know what they have in him and can afford to let him proceed with caution. Meanwhile, Kory Lichtensteiger (knee) did some jogging under the watchful eye of one of the trainers. Maurice Hurt went through a full practice even though it was expected that he would miss Monday’s practice with that inflammation in his knee. Hurt said he expects to be able to play Saturday.
-Running back Roy Helu Jr. missed practice with tendonitis in one of his Achilles’ tendons, Mike Shanahan said. No injury comes at a good time, but this is particularly bad timing for Helu, who likely would have gotten his chance to start Saturday as he competes for the starting running back job. There’s still time for the ailment to subside with rest, but if Helu misses a bulk of this week’s practices, you have to wonder if he’ll even play. The Redskins two main questions about Helu: Can he be a consistent rusher, or simply a change-of-pace back? And, is he durable enough to be a lead back? Last year toe and knee injuries limited Helu, and in OTAs, it was groin and hamstring injury that kept the Nebraska product from practicing fully. Helu needs to get healthy so he can answer these questions. Helu on the sidelines means more opportunities for rookie Alfred Morris, who had a promising showing Thursday.
-Kirk Cousins took a couple of snaps with the starting offense, and split time with Rex Grossman while running the second- and third-string offenses. He looked better than Grossman in Thursday’s preseason game, but it still would be surprising to see him overtake the veteran. Shanahan said Cousins continues to get a high number of snaps, particularly with the second and third teams to aid his development.
-Cousins threw an interception to inside linebacker Lorenzo Alexander around midfield. Later he was intercepted in the end zone by safety DeJon Gomes, who is looking to improve his standing on the depth chart. On the play prior to the interception, Gomes broke up an end zone pass intended for Leonard Hankerson. Cousins did have a nice touchdown pass to tight end Logan Paulsen down the middle of the field. Paulsen had a step on backup linebacker Donnell Holt and caught the ball over his shoulder and barreled downfield for the touchdown.
-It was a rough day for young wide receivers. Terrence Austin lined up in the slot and ran an inside slant, looking for a pass from Cousins. The ball hit Austin’s hands, but the third-year pro couldn’t hang on as he stretched out for the catch. Later, Brandon Banks had an opportunity for a touchdown pass, and Cousins dropped it over his shoulder perfectly. But the ball fell through Banks’s hands. Later still, the Redskins were simulating having the ball around the 45-yard line with only five seconds on the clock. Leonard Hankerson ran an out route, and Griffin hit him in stride. Hankerson dropped the pass along the sideline. Shanahan, as fired up as I’ve seen him in three training camps, charged over to the receiver and yelled the importance of catching the ball in those crucial situations.
-The Redskins also worked on a scenario in which Griffin and the offense had the ball around the 45, again with time running out. This time, however, the play called for a shot to the end zone.Griffin took the snap, rolled to his right, avoided a would-be tackler and then fired the ball downfield and into the end zone, where Hankerson made a leaping catch.
-Griffin’s best throw of the day came on a straight drop-back – something he’s working to get more comfortable at. The quarterback dropped back and fit the ball between Alexander and fellow inside linebacker Bryan Kehl and into the hands of Santana Moss.
-Griffin wasn’t his sharpest when throwing to his left on one of those plays at midfield with five seconds left. The throw to Hankerson – to Griffin’s right – was on the money. But he over threw his intended receiver on the next two plays – both out routes to his left.
-Rex Grossman’s best throw of the day came during red zone drills. The quarterback wrapped up practice by taking the snap with seven seconds left and hitting Anthony Armstrong on a fade in the back of the end zone.
-Wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe appears to be gaining comfort in Washington’s offense after joining the team with training camp in progress. Briscoe, who led Tampa Bay with six touchdown catches last season, has good size at 6-2, 210 pounds, and is an intriguing prospect. The action had been rather limited for him while he learned the schemes, but today he made a nice catch over the middle while running with the second team.
-It wasn’t a good day for Graham Gano, who missed four of 12 field goal attempts – three wide left and one wide right. His misses came from 32, 49, 53 and 57 yards out. Gano did have a successful 58-yard attempt. Meanwhile Neil Rackers was 10 for 11 with a long of 57. Rackers didn’t attempt a kick from 58 yards out. His miss came from 31 yards out. It’s interesting watching the two kickers’ styles. Gano’s seem to have less immediate lift, but plenty of distance, while Rackers’ kicks rise high above the line from the start. Rackers seems to follow through more on his kicks than Gano does.