The rookie minicamp thus far has featured two practice sessions a day on both Friday and Saturday. One final session is slated for Sunday.
Here are some notes and observations from the minicamp, and updates on the team’s draft picks:
● Jay Gruden has a noticeably different coaching style from predecessor Mike Shanahan. Shanahan was more of an overseer during practices, roaming the middle of the field during those sessions and interacting little. Gruden is more hands-on. Offensive coordinator Sean McVay led the unit, but Gruden frequently jumped in to instruct, talk to players, or help lead drills. At times the former quarterback threw passes to receivers. He patted himself on the back for a couple of nice passes and joked around here and there. But Gruden did plenty of correcting as well. Asked about his coaching style, he said: “I just try to be myself out there. I try to have some fun. I want to make sure the energy level is high out there and guys are enjoying what they’re doing. But in the meantime, we have got to stay on them and make sure they’re disciplined and not jumping offsides and running to the ball on defense and offensively finishing blocks and finishing runs and running the routes at the right depth. There’s a lot of coaching going on in there – doesn’t mean I have to be a hard-ass on every snap and yelling at people. I like to have fun, keep things loose and just coach the game of football that we all love to play and coach. I wanted them to have fun when they come out here but also want to be very competitive and do their work.”
● This weekend’s camp already has featured a competitive matchup between Trent Murphy and Morgan Moses. Murphy, who led the nation in sacks last season, lined up at left outside linebacker and across from Moses at right tackle. Moses appeared to get the better of Murphy a number of times in the morning session, but Murphy fared better in the afternoon. “It was good,” Gruden said. “Morgan is a big, big tackle and Trent is a big defensive end/outside linebacker. Both of them did a nice job of coming in.”
● Of all the draft picks, tight end Ted Bolser appeared to struggle the most. He didn’t have trouble getting open, but he did drop a number of passes and struggled while used on the line as a blocker. Gruden had said last week that Bolser would require some developing as a blocker because he wasn’t required to do much of that while at Indiana.
● And of all the undrafted rookie signings to watch, BYU wide receiver Cody Hoffman could be the one. At 6 feet 4 and 210 pounds, he has impressive size. He doesn’t have the greatest speed, clocking a 4.6-second 40-yard dash. But he did catch the eye of Redskins officials. His ability to play special teams could help him. Describing Hoffman, Gruden said on Saturday, “He’s a very smooth route runner with great natural hands and can pluck it. He doesn’t have the great vertical speed. You’d love to be a guy that’s 6-foot-3 and runs a 4.3 40, but he’s [6-4], but he doesn’t run the 4.3. But he’s got good natural hands. He’ll come into training camp and compete with the rest of the guys. Special teams will be important for him as far as making the roster. We’ll see how he does in that area of the game, but we’re happy with what we saw from Cody and a lot of the other receivers also.”
Gruden offered an assessment on the performances this weekend of the draft picks:
- TRENT MURPHY
The scouting reports on Murphy knock him for a lack of explosiveness, and Gruden last week said he needed to work on that. But after seeing Murphy in action these past few days, the coach has confidence in Murphy’s ability to do so.
“You don’t lead the nation in sacks unless you’re versatile in how you rush,” Gruden said of Murphy. “The knock on him is he’s not the greatest athlete, but what I see is a guy who as far as the defensive end and ’backers are concerned, he ran the short shuttles as well as anybody and the long shuttle he ran as good as anybody else. He’s great off the snap, and if you are great off the snap and you have great length, you can make up a lot speed deficiencies, so to speak. He’s got a wide variety of moves and Coach Baker is only going to make him better and better. He’s got a long way to go obviously, but we’re excited to work with a guy that’s 6-foot-5 1/2 with room to get bigger and stronger, and has the arsenal of moves that he has. He can counter-move, he doesn’t predetermine. He’s got a good spin move, he’s got an inside move, outside move, he uses his hands, he can get down and work his leverage. So, he’s got all the skill you want already. It’s just a matter of keep developing him, keep getting his get-offs and develop him. We’re happy with that pick, no doubt.”
- MORGAN MOSES
Moses carried a late-first/early-second-round draft grade but slid to the third round. Gruden said last week that it’s possible he could compete for the starting right tackle job. But on Saturday, he said a significant amount of development lies ahead.
“[Moses], he has a ways to go,” Gruden said. “He’s moving over to right tackle and we just introduced him to the outside zone, the protections the way we want. It’s going to take him some time, but we’re happy with his progress. He’s got a major, major upside with his size.”
- SPENCER LONG
Gruden said he believes it’s possible that Long could compete with veteran starters for a spot on the line. Long said Saturday that Washington’s zone-blocking schemes are very similar to Nebraska’s. And Gruden said Long’s comfort level was obvious.
“He did a great job,” the coach explained. “From the first [session] to the fourth [session] of practice, you could see how effective he’s going to be, how smart he is, No. 1, how physical he can be. He’s athletic enough to do whatever we want in the zone game. He’s smart enough to pick up the blitzes and the line stunts. He’s going to be competitive every day.”
- BASHAUD BREELAND
The cornerback excels in press coverage, using his strength and length to disrupt receivers. Breeland on Saturday displayed these strengths, but he did appear to have a tendency to grab and hold receivers – some of those instances could’ve drawn him a flag. But Gruden like’s Breeland’s competitiveness.
“As an offensive coach, we think it’s holding or interference. If it’s a defensive coach, it’s a hell of a job, so it is a fine line,” Gruden chuckled. “We’re going to have referees throughout training camp and they’re going to police it, and we’ll continue to coach it up. But when he’s at the line of scrimmage, playing bump and run, he has the long arms and that’s his strength. We’ve got to make sure he watches the holding, but very happy with the way he handled the mental aspect of the game, the coverages, and the physical obviously, with how he handled his technique.”
- RYAN GRANT
The wide receiver displayed good versatility with the ability to line up on the outside, in the slot and on special teams as a jammer. Gruden praised Grant’s abilities and the comfort level he displayed despite having just learned the schemes.
“Ryan Grant plays like a 10-year veteran already,” Gruden said. “He’s very smooth, he understands route concepts, he understands depths, how important they are and how to set people up. Easy in and out of breaks, effortlessly. He had a couple drops, but a little nervous I’m sure. But very, very excited to have Ryan and the ability – like I said when we drafted him – to be able to move around outside and inside, I think is going to be a huge benefit for him and he’s going to be a very, very good football player.”
- LACHE SEASTRUNK
The Baylor running back has great speed. There’s no denying that. Gruden has described him as a project player, however, because while in college, Seastrunk wasn’t used as a pass catcher, and he has limited experience in pass protection. The coach believes Seastrunk has the ability to develop into the third-down back Washington needs. But it might not happen right away, he cautioned.
“Lache, it’s brand-new to him,” Gruden said. “No knock against Baylor, because Baylor has had one of the best offenses in football. But they didn’t do any – I don’t know that with him they did a lot as far as protections and route-running. So, the major reach for him was going to be picking up blitzes and running routes out the backfield. It’s brand new to him. It’s no knock on him. It’ll just take him a little time but he’ll get it. Coach Jordan is going to get after him quite a lot, and it’s going to take him some time. It’s not going to happen overnight with Lache, but he’ll get there. He’s 22, 23 years old and some of these guys coming out of college have to see all the fronts and patterns and all the routes and multiple protections. It’s a lot for a young kid, but he can do it. It’s just going to take time.”
- ZACH HOCKER
Hocker ranked among the nation’s leaders when it came to leg strength, and that made him attractive to the Redskins. Washington has veteran Kai Forbath, who has good accuracy on field goals but struggles with distance on kickoffs. Hocker has good potential, Gruden says, but success as a rookie doesn’t come easily, he acknowledged. So for now, all Hocker is assured of is a chance to compete.
“He’s a very good kicker. Very good college kicker,” Gruden said. “The rookie kickers that are in the NFL, not many of them have had a lot of success, but we have high hopes for him, he’s going to come in and compete. We have a good field goal kicker here, but the ability [Hocker] has with a strong leg and a little added dimension for kickoffs and touchbacks is very, very important. We’ll see moving forward. We’re going to have competition, like I said, at every position and kicker is no different. We’ll see how everything transpires in the preseason and how he handles the pressure.
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