Redskins begin OTAs on Monday with familiar faces

Tyler Polumbus

The Redskins return all five starters along the offensive line.

The Washington Redskins kick off the organized team activity phase of their offseason training program on Monday.

For the next three weeks, players will go through full-squad, non-contact practices. This week’s sessions take place on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. The team will practice May 28-30 and June 3-6, and then hold its mandatory full-squad minicamp July 10-12. Thursday’s sessions during OTAs are open to reporters.

After going through the team’s conditioning program, which began on April 15, the players look forward to increasing the level of activity this week.

“We’re going against the defense now, and those guys will be doing the things they usually do, so I’m really excited,” said fullback Eric Kettani, who spent last season on the practice squad and hopes to make the 53-man roster this season.

The Redskins return 21 out of 22 starters on offense and defense and believe that continuity will benefit them as they work to follow up last season’s 10-6 campaign, which included winning the NFC East division and reaching the playoffs, with another strong showing.

“Everyone’s optimistic and has confidence from last year, but we know each year’s a different year, and each team in the division is changing around,” center Will Montgomery said. “They’ve had changes, we’ve had a few changes. Last season doesn’t mean we’re going to have a good year this year. We have to go back to the grind and work for each victory.”

Washington returns all five starting linemen from an offense that ranked fifth in the league, and on defense the team looks to get a boost from the healthy returns of top pass rusher Brian Orakpo, who is expected to be a full participant during OTAs.

The special teams units will feature some changes, as coordinator Danny Smith has departed for the same position with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and special teams captain Lorenzo Alexander signed with Arizona in free agency.

Former Denver Bronco Keith Burns takes over that unit now, and players this week will get a chance to learn more about his philosophies and strategies.

“We’ve gotten some work together. I like him a lot so far,” place kicker Kai Forbath said of Burns. “He’s got some new game plans, that I can’t talk about, but so far so good.”

Forbath’s top focus of the offseason has been improving kickoffs. He shined in the field goal department, making 17 of 18 attempts last season, including a long of 50 yards. But Forbath, who didn’t handle kickoff duties at UCLA, struggled with consistency in that area and recorded only 15 touchbacks in 62 kickoffs. He aims to change that this season.

“That was obviously an issue I wished I could’ve improved upon last year. … I’m working hard on that,” Forbath said. “It’s technique. It’s not a power thing, it’s making the same contact every time. … You’re coming full-speed at the ball, and you’re trying to make solid contact. Sometimes you get out of control and lose balance. I always liken kicking to golf, which is why I golf so much. It’s about making that same swing every time and getting that contact, and you can improve as you go on.”

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