Gruden happy with groundwork laid in rookie camp

New Redskins Coach Jay Gruden watches over minicamp in Ashburn. (Richard Lipskin for The Washington Post)

New Redskins Coach Jay Gruden watches over minicamp in Ashburn. (Richard Lipski/For The Washington Post)

With four rookie minicamp practices in the books and one left on tap, Washington Redskins Coach Jay Gruden expressed contentment with the amount of work that his charges had gotten in. He surmised that although the eight draft picks, 10 rookie free agent signings and 38 tryout players very much are still learning on the fly, they have managed to put together bodies of work adequate enough for Washington’s decision makers to evaluate for future moves.

“The big thing was giving these [tryout] guys a look so they can showcase their skill and ability and we can make a decision on them moving forward, whether to bring them to [training] camp or sign them or what have you,” the first-year head coach said. “I think we accomplished what we needed to accomplish. We got to see our draft picks for the first time. We’re excited about what they did and what they bring to the team.

“It’s a little difficult,” he added, referring to the fact that players had to pick up limited portions of the systems in a short period of time and then perform, “but it’s good to just get them some general information moving forward so that way the first time they step on the field, it’s not overwhelming to them. It’s a chance to learn the system – just bits and pieces of it moving forward – so they get a good general knowledge of it, so when they do come to training camp, this experience will help them moving forward.”

The Redskins wound up signing four tryout players — defensive end Frank Kearse of Bethune-Cookman, cornerback Courtney Bridget Jr. of Hampton, safety Ross Madison of Toledo and cornerback Blake Sailors of Georgia.

In corresponding moves, the team cut safety Jose Gumbs, who played in eight games while recording six tackles last season, defensive lineman Chris Davenport, tight end Kevin Perry and quarterback Tommy Rees.

The Redskins’ roster – counting veterans, draft picks and college free agents – already stands at the limit of 90 players. So, to add any of the tryout players that made a good impression, they would have to make cuts. Gruden declined to discuss the team’s plans, but he said coaches and officials in the coming days would evaluate the minicamp players and decide whether or not to extend any contracts.

More importantly, however, the camp provided Gruden and his staff an opportunity to work with Washington’s draft picks for the first time.

The selections — outside linebacker Trent Murphy (second round, Stanford), tackle Morgan Moses (third, Virginia), guard Spencer Long (third, Nebraska) cornerback Bashaud Breeland (fourth, Clemson), wide receiver Ryan Grant (fifth, Tulane), running back Lache Seastrunk (sixth, Baylor), tight end Ted Bolser (seventh, Indiana) and place kicker Zach Hocker (seventh, Arkansas) – all showed the promise Redskins brass had hoped. But the need for development also was evident, Gruden said.

Because the delayed timing of the draft, the Redskins and fellow teams have two fewer weeks to prepare rookies for training camp, and Gruden called that “a concern.” But he also expressed confidence in the draft picks’ abilities to adapt sufficiently as they learn from coaches and veteran teammates.

“What we did in free agency, we’re not having guys to necessarily come in and play 70 snaps a game,” Gruden said. “They can come in and be a backup and come in and play situationally and learn and learn and develop and that’s the beauty of what we did in the free agent market this year. They’re going to come in and compete. How much they can handle will be determined after training camp and the preseason.”

The Redskins will begin full-squad organized team activities (offseason practice sessions) late this month, and will continue their work throughout the month of June and then break late in June, before training camp begins later that month.

Also on The Insider

Morgan Moses works to get comfortable again at right tackle