The Redskins on Wednesday held their ninth of 10 voluntary practice sessions and on Thursday wrap up this portion of the offseason program. Next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the team will hold its mandatory minicamp, and then get roughly a month off before the start of training camp.
Here are some notes and observations from today’s session – the only day of the week open to reporters:
● Wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who this week returned to action after nursing a strained hamstring last week, was heavily involved in the offense during today’s drills. The receiver lined up in a variety of positions and was used in a number of ways, just as he had during the limited action that we saw from him two weeks ago before he pulled the hamstring. Jay Gruden said that Jackson still isn’t yet totally 100 percent healthy, but that he had recovered enough to practice fully. The coach said Jackson has to hold back while making a few different cuts, but that he is doing well. Jackson displayed his speed as he created separation on a couple of crossing routes. He also had enough of a burst to get a slight step on rookie cornerback Bashaud Breeland to catch a pass from Robert Griffin III. Breeland actually had good position on Jackson and swiped at the ball, but just narrowly missed. Jackson made the grab and went the distance.
● Griffin looked sharp in Week 1 of OTAs, and was a little erratic last week. He looked sharper today, and in addition to Jackson, connected with tight end Jordan Reed and wide receiver Ryan Grant for long touchdown passes. Gruden said he’s “very happy” with the chemistry that Griffin is developing with his receivers. Griffin meanwhile, said he feels “very comfortable” with Gruden’s offense, although he admits he still has much left to learn.
● The Redskins still don’t know when wide receiver Leonard Hankerson will receive clearance to practice. The receiver, recovering from torn knee ligaments, continues to work on the side with trainers. Today, part of his regiment included him doing a series of lunges while dragging a weighted sled. Hankerson also ran some pass routes off to the side while wearing a hinged brace on his knee.
● Cornerback Richard Crawford (recovering from surgery to repair torn knee ligaments) appeared to ramp up his activity some more this week, but has yet to receive clearance to practice. Crawford appeared to run well as he dropped back into coverage versus a phantom receiver and made a catch downfield before turning back upfield. Crawford, who as a rookie in 2012 shined as a punt returner, had his helmet on and looked as if he was in line to field punts with teammates during special teams drills. But he just stood behind them and watched.
● Running backs Lache Seastrunk, Roy Helu Jr. and Chris Thompson and wide receivers DeSean Jackson, Andre Roberts and Lee Doss ranked among a group of players working as kick returners. Doss displayed some speed and elusiveness during a containment drill as he got to the outside against tight end Ted Bolser and ran to daylight.
● Doss later didn’t get the separation he needed on a pass route, however, and linebacker Akeem Jordan had him blanketed in coverage and broke up a Colt McCoy pass.
● With DeAngelo Hall “dinged up” following a blow to the chin on Tuesday and receiving an excused absence, E.J. Biggers stepped in as the starting cornerback opposite David Amerson. Breeland joined the two on nickel packages. The fourth-round pick manned the outside while Biggers slid inside to cover the slot.
● With Barry Cofield still rehabbing from hernia surgery, Chris Baker served as the first-team nose tackle a week after Kedric Golston and Chris Neild saw some time there. Baker and Jarvis Jenkins also saw time on the first-team nickel packages. Gruden said despite the addition of Jason Hatcher, Baker and Jenkins will both be “a major part of our nickel pass rush also.” The coach said that thus far, both Jenkins and Baker have displayed an improved ability to shed blocks and get into the backfield.
● Rookie outside linebacker Trent Murphy continues to see a good amount of action with the first team on nickel packages. Today he saw time both as a down lineman and as an outside linebacker, trading places with Ryan Kerrigan here and there.
● Offensive coordinator Sean McVay radioed plays into Griffin’s helmet during 11-on-11 drills today. Gruden said plans haven’t changed, and that he will serve as the play-caller in games, but that today, McVay called plays from a script for practice. Gruden said that on Tuesday, McVay also made some unscripted play calls. Offensive line coach Chris Foerster also called a couple of plays, Gruden said. The coach said that he welcomes input from his assistants during game planning, and that he will continue to do so during games.
● Rookie Spencer Long has spent the previous practice sessions at second-team right guard, and third-year pro Josh LeRibeus has lined up at second-team left guard. This week the two flip-flopped. Gruden said it’s important for the young players to display their versatility because on game days, Washington likely will only dress seven linemen, and that the sixth lineman must be able to play both guard positions and center.
● Rookie running back Silas Redd showed a little wiggle and good burst of speed today as he took a handoff, bounced to the right to avoid one tackler in the hole, then bounced out to the left, and then drew cheers from his veteran teammates as he raced up the sideline.
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