Redskins training camp: Observations from Day 1

RICHMOND — Day 1 of Redskins training camp got off to a water-logged start, but skies eventually cleared about midway through the practice, and the team finished their on-field session under clear skies.

The team didn’t have a flawless practice, but players classified the day as a good start to camp and said they believe improvement will naturally come.

Quarterback Robert Griffin III didn’t get off to the sharpest start to camp, missing a handful of opportunities for big plays, most notably with wide receiver DeSean Jackson.

Jackson’s speed was on full display as he beat his defender deep on one play early in practice only to have Griffin underthrow him. Later, Griffin threw a high-arcing pass downfield. Jackson had to slow up a bit and then got underneath the ball as it descended. But he dropped it. Later, Griffin led Jackson too much on a crossing route, and missed his target.

Griffin had one near-interception when backup cornerback Peyton Thompson jumped an out route intended for wide receiver Nick Williams. But the high throw went off a leaping Thompson’s hands and out of bounds.

Giving his assessment of the day, Griffin said, “As an offense, we weren’t as efficient as we wanted to be today all around. … But it’s a good thing to have to work through the rain and have to throw those wet footballs, have to catch those wet footballs, have to work on [handoffs with running backs]. All those things.”

Jackson, like Griffin, downplayed the miscues, reiterating that “It’s Day 1” and that the Redskins still have a number of weeks ahead of them before their first preseason game, and the regular season opener.

Griffin at times seemed to hold onto the ball a little too long, waiting for plays to develop downfield. A couple of times, he would’ve gotten sacked had these been full-contact practices. It wasn’t a good sign for the offensive line that there were struggles to hold off the pass rush. But, as Jay Gruden said on Wednesday, every practice rep is precious, and the quarterback benefits from those throws, whether or not the defense had to hold up and avoid dropping him or not.

I’m still trying to pry apart the rain-soaked, ink-smeared pages of my notebook, but here are some other observations from today’s practice.

● Cornerback Richard Crawford didn’t show any limitations as he returned to action 11 months after tearing ligaments in his left knee. He ran step-for-step with Andre Roberts up the sideline and got good position as a deep pass came toward the two. Roberts shoved Crawford in the back, leapt and made the catch before trotting into the end zone. Crawford pointed at the receiver, who had committed an obvious penalty, then shook his head and jogged back downfield. Crawford, who didn’t wear a knee brace, also fielded punts during the special teams portions of practice.

● Crawford, Santana Moss, Jackson, Andre Roberts, Nick Williams, Lache Seastrunk, Chris Thompson, Rashad Ross all continue to compete for punt return duties and took turns fielding punts Thursday.

● Defensive end Stephen Bowen continued his rehab work on a separate field and wore a brace on his surgically-repaired right knee. Bowen ran a series of cross-field sprints. He has a noticeable hitch in his step when running, but said that he’s encouraged by his progress and will continue to train patiently while confident that he will soon return to full strength. Bowen said that he was told he could possibly come off the PUP list sometime during training camp.

● Nose tackle Barry Cofield said he feels great as he makes his return after rehabbing from hernia surgery this offseason. Cofield likes improved depth, talent level of the defensive front. He also says the front seven feels like it has finally evolved to point it needs to be.

● With Bowen and Jason Hatcher out, Chris Baker took the bulk of the first-team snaps at left end, and Jarvis Jenkins at right end. Jenkins started at left end last season, but based on offseason practice reps, appears to have lost that job to Baker. Hatcher would presumably start at right end. But Bowen’s position remains unclear. It’s possible that he could serve as one of the linemen that rotate in and out at multiple spots to keep the starters fresh.

● The first 11-on-11 play of camp was a run play where Alfred Morris took the handoff, running left. Morris hit a cutback and slipped between the left guard and tackle and picked up about 15 yards before being run out of bounds.

● Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams said he is aiming for improved consistency this season and wants to dominate each week rather than play down to competition as he believes he did at times last season.

● Rookie tackle Morgan Moses didn’t have the strongest of days today. Playing on the second unit, the third-round pick lined up at his more natural position of left tackle, but still struggled. He seemed to play too upright, and didn’t knock defenders off the line. He didn’t appear to get the best jump off the line while blocking on stretch plays, either. A couple times, he got stood up and shoved into the backfield while supposedly playing in pass protection.

● Tom Compton lined up at second-team right tackle and appears to be the more technically sound of the two battling young tackles.

● Third-year guard Josh LeRibeus looks quicker and more effective than he did at this point last season. LeRibeus – battling for backup duties behind left guard Shawn Lauvo – drew the praise of offensive line Chris Foerster as he executed his assignments on a run-blocking drill. “Excellent, Josh. Excellent,” Foerster said as LeRibeus hit his initial assignment and then got to the next level for a combo block with the center. There was no praise of any kind directed at an out-of-shape LeRibeus last season.

● Speaking of out of shape, Maurice Hurt struggled badly through a series of exercises on the sled while working on a side field with a trainer and defensive end Jason Hatcher, who like Hurt is on the PUP list. Hatcher, who is coming off arthroscopic knee surgery, looked good as he shoved a weighted individual sled, but Hurt appeared badly winded as he shoved his. After the round of work was complete, Hurt huffed and puffed as he trudged off, retreating to the trainer’s tent for a drink. Hard to believe he’s still in this poor condition after going through the offseason program.

● Keenan Robinson continues to work as the starting ‘mike’ linebacker. He often drew the assignment of covering tight end Jordan Reed, but had mixed results. On some plays, he stopped Reed for no gain after receptions. On a couple of other plays, he appeared to grab Reed’s jersey to keep the tight end from getting separation.

● That’s one practice in the books, and this afternoon will feature a 4 p.m. walkthrough, which is prep work for tomorrow morning’s practice session.

Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.
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