Redskins training camp: Observations from Day 5

RICHMOND – The Washington Redskins wrapped up their fifth consecutive day of practice, and now will receive some time to rest up. Instead of the usual evening walk-through, Jay Gruden & Co. will have a team dinner, and the players then will have all of Tuesday off before returning to action on Wednesday.

“It’s been a grind,” Gruden said. “When you’re around the same guys for five days in a row for about 18 hours a day, you get tired of looking at them. I’m tired of looking at them and I want them out of the building for a few hours; enjoy themselves and get a nice dinner and be ready to work on Wednesday.”

Based on the tempo and energy of today’s practice, the Redskins earned the break.

In what represented their first practice in full pads – previous practices they wore shoulder pads and helmets, but wore either shorts or game pants without pads – Washington’s players put on a spirited, competitive, and at times chippy, practice.

Some veterans remarked that the practices had a game feel to it because of the physicality and pace.

Here are some observations from the action:

● Gruden and his coaches set the tone early as Ben Kotwica wrapped up the practice-opening special teams segment with one-on-one tackling drills. Players lined up 15 yards apart from each other. A ball-carrier stood on one side, and a tackler on the other side. At the sound of the whistle, the two would take off. The ball carrier had to get to the opposite line, and the defender had to tackle him before he got there. Cornerback Chase Minnifield had a good, hard tackle on Andre Roberts. Chris Thompson put a move on linebacker Will Compton, squirting around the right along the sideline, but Compton recovered to get a hand on the back and dragged him down from behind before he could reach the goal line. Aldrick Robinson proved too fast for cornerback Courtney Bridget, who couldn’t get a hand on the wide receiver as he cut to the left and raced by. Wide receiver Nick Williams crossed safety Phillip Thomas over and reached the goal line untouched. Tight end Ted Bolser and linebacker Gabe Miller had a thunderous collision, and Miller lost his helmet. But he still hung on to bring Bolser to the ground. Left tackle Trent Williams begged coach Jay Gruden to let him get in on the action and carry the ball, but the coach laughed and said no.

● Every day, rookie linebacker Trent Murphy does something that impresses me. Today, during a punt coverage drill, the 6-foot-5, 258-pound Stanford product raced downfield along with wide receiver/gunner Rashad Lawrence and got to the returner (Williams) only a step or two after the smaller Lawrence. Murphy definitely looked faster than the less-than-blazing 4.73-second 40-yard dash time he clocked at the Combine. Murphy wasn’t done, though. Later, while lined up with the first-team defense along with Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo, Murphy blitzed from the inside, overpowered right guard Chris Chester and grabbed Robert Griffin III with one hand. The play was blown dead, and Murphy was awarded a sack.

● Today’s practice gave us our first good look at the capabilities of the running backs, because unlike other days where defenders just half-way wrap up a back and then let him on by, the tackling was real. During 11-on-11 action, Alfred Morris was in his Pro Bowl, bruising form, barreling defenders backward and breaking tackles. Lache Seastrunk showed good quickness as he swept around the left side of the line, met resistance on the edge, bounced further to the outside and raced into the end zone on a 10-yard run. Chris Thompson also showed his elusiveness. Silas Redd does really well in the open field, changing directions and accelerating quickly.

● DeSean Jackson’s speed is just something else. During red-zone drills, Griffin swung a pass to him out to the right, behind the line. Jackson hesitated for just a second as DeAngelo Hall closed in, and Jackson pulled off a move that sent the cornerback sprawling, Jackson then made two more defenders miss over the course of the next 10 yards and reached the end zone for the score. Later, Griffin threw a quick strike to Jackson in the center of the field. Jackson made the grab just beyond midfield, tucked the ball away and squirted between Hall and safety Ryan Clark and off to the races.

● Right tackle Tyler Polumbus did well during the one-on-one blocking/tackling drills today and showed that while quickness may not be his forte, power is. Linebackers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan traded places today, so Orakpo matched up with Polumbus. Today, the pass rushers were focusing on bull rushing their opponent, and in two separate reps, Orakpo failed to get by Polumbus. Polumbus (6-8, 308) absorbed initial contact from the Orakpo (6-3, 257), and held him at bay as the linebacker tried in vain to shove the tackle backward and into the path of the quarterback. Later, Polumbus won his matchup with Rob Jackson as well.

● Kerrigan went against Trent Williams, and on the first matchup, it appeared that Williams forgot the snap count, because Kerrigan had fired off the ball and gotten by him before Williams even moved. Next time around, Kerrigan got Williams moving backward, but the left tackle held on to keep Kerrigan from getting to his target before the whistle blew.

● It continues to look as if rookie guard Spencer Long’s biggest problem is matching the strength of his more established counterparts. The Nebraska product proved no match for Kedric Golston in one-on-one drills as Golston, a ninth-year pro, fired off the ball, smacked Long upside the head, knocking him backward, and then barreled on by to get into the backfield.

● Long did do better against the taller and less-established Clifton Geathers. Geathers (6-8, 325) couldn’t overpower Long and drive him deep into the backfield because Long (6-5, 325) had better leverage and was able to stand his ground.

● Meanwhile, fellow third-round pick Morgan Moses had trouble twice for different reasons. Trent Murphy’s strength was too much to overcome, and the next time around, the shorter Adrian Robinson (five inches and 65 pounds lighter) dipped under Moses’s block attempt and got around him with his quickness.

● Williams did better against Kerrigan during the 11-on-11 action. On one play in particular, Kerrigan tried to get around the Pro Bowl left tackle, but Williams quickly slid backward and to his left to prevent Kerrigan from turning the corner. Williams’s block created an opening for Griffin, who with the rest of the pocket collapsing, stepped to his left, slipped through the opening and took off up the center of the field for a nice gain.

● Bolser had more than just the collision from the tackling drills. He caught a pass, turned and trucked Chase Minnifield as he tried to pick up yards after the catch. Minnifield isn’t the biggest guy, but he’s tough, and he managed to get both hands on the tight end and pull him to the ground while falling on his back. Things got a little dicey after that. On the next play, Bolser scored a takedown on Minnifield (not sure what was said during or after the first collision that fired the tight end up), and Trent Murphy had to come over and pull the two off of each other as they grappled. Minnifield later got into a scuffle with Jerry Rice Jr. at the end of a play.

● On the next play, Andre Roberts didn’t appreciate a shot delivered by cornerback Peyton Thompson. Roberts lost his helmet and the two had to be separated. Griffin was one of the players who pulled Thompson away. Griffin then got up in the cornerback’s face, talked to him and calmed him down, and Roberts trotted back to the huddle.

● Here’s how the defensive depth chart looked today: Chris Baker (left end), Barry Cofield (nose tackle), Jarvis Jenkins (right end), Orakpo (left outside linebacker), Keenan Robinson (mike linebacker), Perry Riley Jr. (jack linebacker), Kerrigan (right OLB), Hall (left cornerback), David Amerson (right CB), Brandon Meriweather (strong safety), Ryan Clark (free safety).

Second-team defense, which is fluid: Golston (LE), Neild (NT), Frank Thomas (RE), Rob Jackson (LOLB), Darryl Sharpton (MLB), Adam Hayward (JLB), Murphy (ROLB), Richard Crawford (LCB), Tracy Porter (RCB), Akeem Davis (SS), Trenton Robinson (FS). First team nickel back was E.J. Biggers, and Bashaud Breeland was on the second team. For the bulk of camp, Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo have served as second-team strong and free safeties, respectively. Today’s designations were a matter of coaches giving other players opportunities, not demotions.

● Offensive first- and second-team depth chart looked like this: Pierre Garcon (WR), Williams (LT), Shawn Lauvao (LG), Korry Lichtensteiger (C), Chris Chester (RG), Polumbus (RT), Jordan Reed (TE), Jackson (WR), Griffin (QB), Darrel Young (FB), Alfred Morris (RB).

Second team: Santana Moss (WR), Moses (LT), Josh LeRibeus (LG), Mike McGlynn (C), Long (RG), Tom Compton (RT), Aldrick Robinson (WR), Kirk Cousins (QB), Stephen Campbell (FB), Silas Redd (RB). Logan Paulsen joined the first team frequently, but also saw time on the second team, as did Bolser. Roy Helu Jr. also saw time with the second team at running back.

● Again, these depth charts change from day to day, but that’s just how things looked for the most part today. The third teams are kind of jumbled because in some positions, there are no third-string players, and other position groups have third- and even fourth-stringers for now.

● Keenan Robinson had a big hit in pass coverage as he popped Morris good right after the running back made a catch over the middle. It was hard to say which was more impressive, the hit from Robinson, or the fact that Morris still managed to hang onto the ball and keep his feet.

● Cousins struggled with the deep ball today and seemed to try to force things , underthrowing two passes to receivers who were in triple coverage.

● Breeland denied Cousins and the second team a touchdown when he nearly intercepted a pass at the goal line on third-and-goal.

● One of the best offensive plays was a play where the protection had broken down and Griffin backpedaled to buy himself time. He started to his left, then took off to his right, and then rolled out and connected with Moss in the front of the end zone for the score.

● Kai Forbath had the better day of the two place kickers, making all three attempts – distances of 38, 43 and 48 yards. Meanwhile, Zach Hocker made his attempt from 38 yards out, missed the 43-yard attempt wide right, and then had his 48-yard attempt blocked at the line by Geathers.

● The players said afterwards that they enjoyed the energy of today’s practice, and that they feel closer to game-ready at this point than they did last year a week into camp. Wednesday, players will practice in shorts, and it remains to be seen what day they’ll put pads back on in advance of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday’s practices with the Patriots, which will all feature pads.

Find previous days’ practice observations here, and all blog posts from training camp here. Have a Redskins 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.

What’s ahead:
Washington is off Monday afternoon and Tuesday; the next practice is 8:35 a.m. Wednesday. Here’s our camp guide, if you’re planning to attend.

Also from The Post:

Garcon rests sore hamstring & other injuries

After feisty practice, Gruden might back off the tackling

Redskins sign OLB Everette Brown

Lichtensteiger transition to center going well

Amerson out to provide stability, swag in Year 2

More NFL coverage: Home page | D.C. Sports Bog | The Early Lead | Fancy Stats

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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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