Redskins OTAs: Observations from Wednesday’s practice

Spencer Long

Spencer Long walks off the field after Wednesday’s practice. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

The Redskins on Wednesday wrapped up their second week of offseason practices. They have the next four days off, and then return to action next Monday and will conclude the official OTA portion of the offseason program on Thursday.

Then the team will hold its mandatory three-day minicamp Tuesday through Thursday, June 17-19.

But first, here are some observations from today’s practice at Redskins Park:

● Defensive end Jason Hatcher wasn’t in attendance for the voluntary session to attend a function with his daughter back in Texas. Nose tackle Barry Cofield, who is still recovering from hernia surgery, and wide receiver Leonard Hankerson, who is recovering from anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligament surgery, also were not in attendance.

● Cornerbacks Richard Crawford (knee surgery) and Tracy Porter (shoulder surgery) both continued to train on the side as they work their way back to full strength. Running back Chris Thompson fielded punts, but spent the rest of the day training on the side as well. Linebacker Darryl Sharpton didn’t take part in team drills, either.

● Center Kory Lichtensteiger looked right at home at his new position, and coach Jay Gruden said the converted guard has had “no issues” with his shotgun snaps, or making the calls for the line. “It’s been a natural transition for him,” Gruden said. “He’s been great in the run game. He gets up to the second level with ease. And pass protection, with the calls that he’s making already, he’s done a great job. We’re excited about the things to come there both in the run game and the pass game.” Lichtensteiger, after playing at around 285-290 pounds last season now weighs about 300 after bulking up to better handle the rigors of the center position.

● Quarterback Robert Griffin III didn’t appear as sharp with some of his passes today as he did last week, narrowly overthrowing or underthrowing receivers at times. He and Andre Roberts appeared to have a miscommunication on one point, and Griffin threw an interception to Perry Riley Jr. underneath, with Roberts nowhere near the play. Griffin did have a couple of nice throws on the run, however. On one play, Griffin displayed the burst that he lacked last season. Griffin stepped up into the pocket before it started to collapse around him. The quarterback then backpedaled and scrambled to the outside, rolling to his right with Brian Orakpo and Riley in pursuit. Griffin located an open Santana Moss and connected with him along the sideline. Initially, Riley told Griffin he would’ve been sacked had it been a game. Then, Riley teased, “Hey, why didn’t you just throw it to me again?” as they jogged back to the center of the field.

● Gruden said that although evaluations and coaching remains ongoing, he likes what he sees in Griffin’s fundamentals and technique. “He’s got a good fundamental base. He’s played for the Shanahans, and they understand what the quarterback position is all about, and he got to work with Terry Shea, and at Baylor. He’s got a good base, and a good, sound fundamental skill set and now it’s just a matter of perfecting some things and tweaking some things to where he’s comfortable when he’s going back to pass, he doesn’t have to think about it.”

● Wide receiver DeSean Jackson didn’t take part in team drills, and in his place, Roberts got the bulk of the first-team snaps opposite Pierre Garcon. Moss served as the slot receiver for most of the first-team plays, and appears to still have his speed and zeal for the game. The 35-year-old Moss made a number of tough catches and turned upfield. On one play, he put a move on a younger defensive back and darted downfield toward the end zone, whooping and hollering in celebration. Gruden praised Moss’ professionalism, preparation and the example that he sets for his teammates.

 Tevita  Stevens, Josh LeRibeus, Morgan Moses

Offensive linemen Tevita Stevens, left, Josh LeRibeus, center, and rookie tackle Morgan Moses conduct blocking drills on Wednesday. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

● After spending the rookie camp and last week’s practices at second-team right tackle, rookie Morgan Moses spent this week practicing as the backup left tackle. It’s all part of his NFL education. It’s important for him to show that he can play both positions, particularly if he doesn’t succeed in unseating Tyler Polumbus as the starting right tackle this season. “He needs to know both tackle spots right now,” Guden said. “But we had him at the right [last week]. He’s obviously more comfortable on the left side because that’s what he’s been doing the last few years in college. You could see him struggle a bit on the right side and then he went back to the left side, he appeared a little more natural. But he’s obviously not penciled in as the starting left tackle.” Gruden added that third-year pro Tom Compton, who after working at left tackle last week flipped to right tackle this week, and four-year veteran Maurice Hurt are competing with Moses for the backup swing tackle duties for now.

● Fellow rookie Trent Murphy also did some flip-flopping. After spending the bulk of last week’s practice and the rookie camp as the backup to left outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, Murphy saw time as the second-team right outside linebacker, where he would rush the quarterback’s blind side. Kerrigan also received some snaps at the right edge today when he and Orakpo swapped sides.

● Rookie cornerback Bashaud Breeland had a good practice on Wednesday and appeared to avoid getting into trouble by using his hands too much as he seemed to do at times at the rookie camp and last week. On one play today, wide receiver Aldrick Robinson tried to shake Breeland with a move, but the rookie stayed right with him. Robinson still wound up making the catch as the ball narrowly missed Breeland’s fingertips and fell into Robinson’s hands, but secondary coach Raheem Morris applauded Breeland’s technique on the play. Later, Breeland got the best of the speedy Robinson, running with him stride for stride downfield on a deep route and swatting away what would’ve been a touchdown. Interestingly, Breeland fell in the draft because of a poor 40-yard-dash time (4.62 seconds). But he appears much faster than that. There’s an obvious difference between clock fast and football fast, because Breeland hasn’t gotten dusted when it comes to flat-out running. He had told coaches that he didn’t feel like he had learned the proper technique required to run an impressive 40-yard-dash. But coaches are very happy with what they’ve seen so far, and they believe that this time next year, he could be a difference-maker.

● For now, the safety depth chart remains: Brandon Meriweather and Ryan Clark, followed by Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo and Akeem Davis and Tanard Jackson. It’ll be interesting to see when/if Jackson leapfrogs Rambo. The second-year pro must have a good offseason and camp to hold off the more experienced Jackson.

● Kickers Kai Forbath and Zach Hocker squared off for a little competition at the end of practice, and both veteran and rookie nailed all three of their field goal attempts – each recording a long of 51 yards out.

Related: Last week’s practice observations from Mike Jones

Have a football question? Send an e-mail to mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question,” and it might be answered on Tuesday in The Mailbag.

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